As I look back, my four decades on this planet have been relatively pain-free. I had migraines growing up. I broke my arm in youth and several ribs in adulthood, all due to clumsiness. But by and large, I’ve been lucky. Friends and family haven’t had as easy a road as I’ve had. Rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia: Those in my circle endure pain in ways I cannot comprehend.
When pain is our constant companion, peace of mind is sure to suffer. According to a study by Mental Health America, living with pain daily can cause deep emotional stress. “Chronic stress is known to change the levels of stress hormones and neurochemicals found within your brain and nervous system, ” the study found. “These can affect your mood, thinking, and behavior . . . and bring on depression. ” Pain is unavoidable. But it cannot overtake us.
Dr. Colleen Arnold, a physician, offers a remedy of sorts in this month’s issue. In her article, “Praying through Pain, ” she writes about how prayer can soothe the minds and hearts of those who wrestle with pain—chronic or otherwise. This holistic approach to self-care, of tending to our spirits as well as our bodies, is good medicine.