Is art therapy real? I am here to help you decide.
Here is the cold, hard truth. I have lived in chronic pain since I was ten years old.
Imagine yourself at ten years old. Playing, laughing, riding bikes. You are not thinking about life, the future or worse, pain. You are thinking about your next play date and Batman. Or Spiderman, whatever your thing is.
Except that everyday by 3 PM, I experienced pain. Mostly headaches, sometimes stomach aches and back pain. Every day. I am now well into my adulthood (not going to obsess over my age) and have dealt with chronic pain my entire life.
Here is how you overcome chronic pain through the power of positivity and a little art therapy.
What is art therapy anyway?
Let’s go with the experts on this one. According to Art Therapy Blog…
“Definition: Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.”
Without knowing it, this is what I did to help my chronic pain. Now anyone who has been in pain knows, that it is not easy to get the creative juices flowing when you are living in agony.
The best way to get something going is just to start.
Don’t think about it, don’t plan it, don’t stress about not doing it right. Just begin. Start anywhere. Any way you can. Start small and work your way up.
If you can’t stand up and create, sit down and do it. Do it from the bed if you need to! Once you begin, it will lead to the motivation to see it through.
Art is the one constant in my life that has always been there for me. I have done so many pieces that are absolute garbage. Then I started to own it. I started to believe in myself and my abilities. When I sat down to create, it took the thought of being in pain away. It forced me to think about the artwork instead.
That is the power of art therapy.
Manage the pain through your mind, not your body
Your life still goes on even though you are in pain.
Acting normal does not take the pain away. In fact, the truth is, art does not take the pain away.
Realizing you live in chronic pain takes a while. It’s not consistent in the same patterns. It doesn’t rear it’s ugly head until you are aware of its presence. You may look at a calendar and say, wow I haven’t had a pain free day in three months. That’s a red flag.
The key to overcoming most pain is to lose the fear of being in it in the first place. I spent a good part of my life living in fear that I would wake up in pain. What a horrible mindset! I even went to a hypnotist to try to rid this fear of pain. It worked, sort of.
What I learned is that the mind is extremely powerful. Your thoughts may actually be the thing that’s causing the pain! Let that sink in. If you are constantly thinking about your pain, you are bringing it on full force.
I learned that no matter how much pain I was in, I needed to train my mind to think positively. Not an easy feat.
Once I let go of the fear of being in pain (which is still a WIP) I began to rebuild my days around the things I wanted, instead of the things I didn’t want.
Try an Artfirmation here:
Say it out loud. It’s going to sound funny. You are going to feel uncomfortable. But just relax, breathe and say it. See how it makes you feel. These four words could change your mindset from fear to confidence in less than a minute.
Positively reaffirming your mind is step one. A little help from our friends Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay and Tony Robbins also help you to stay motivated. Haters gonna hate here, but these fine folks got me through some dark times.
Yes, I am still in pain. But remember, the mind is pretty powerful. If you’re angry about the pain, you’ll need to work on letting that go. I went through a few years where I screamed at the sky saying, “Why can’t I just be normal?!” No one was listening. Don’t waste your breath. I even wrote a blog about it.
Talk to someone if you need to, it helps.
The body follows next.
Build up the body the best way you can
Once I understood how powerful the mind was, I knew the body surely had the same power. If it could put me in this much pain, it had to be powerful.
Health plays a big role here.
Living a healthy lifestyle is a choice! If you are chugging beers and pounding cheeseburgers you are toxic, my friend. But that’s the catch, I was well aware that health was a big deal.
I did my research.
I learned how to eat properly, I tried my best to go organic, non-GMO, eat all the protein, do the liver cleanse, eat the coconut oil, take the honey, get the sunshine, huff the essential oils, use the CBD drops, be the ultimate food warrior. It was exhausting. Your body naturally wants french fries, cmon!
Fight the urges (when you can) because the more good food I ate, the better I felt. This is not a newsflash but people do ask why they are in pain as they are sipping Coke and eating a bag of chips. Toxicity in food is everywhere!
Caylin’s quick tips for a healthier lifestyle:
- Be a label reader. If you can’t pronounce the first three ingredients on the label, don’t buy it or eat.
- Eat more out of the ground and less out of a box.
- For God’s sake, drink water, friends! Preferably with lemon, because it helps with cleansing the toxins. Drink tea too! I recommend Buddha Teas.
- Get up and walk. You don’t need Crossfit or a gym membership. Just walk for 15-30 minutes a day if you can. You can even take Sunday off.
- Be careful what you put ON your body. Just because you aren’t eating it doesn’t mean you aren’t absorbing it. Watch those make-ups, lotions and soaps. Read the labels there too!
- Get the tools you need for daily pain management. Keep reading for my recommendations.
- Laugh. This is a MUST. Find joy in things because laughter is, as they say, the best medicine.
If you can follow these quick tips 90% of the time, you can then go out and get your damn french fries. You deserve it.
Don’t do drugs
The quickest and easiest way to get out of pain is to do drugs.
I don’t mean the bad ones, I mean the ones that a doctor will (so willingly) perscribe to you so they can meet their dosage quota.
I am here to say, been there done that and it SUCKED. Pain killers are basically the devil. They take your soul away from you! You lose yourself in the cloudy chemical warfare in your body.
I know a woman that went from being a bright beautiful athlete with a loving family, to losing her mind and everything she had all due to pain medication. You will go up against the chemicals and they will win, every time.
Don’t fall for the doctor prescribed easy way out.
Pain can be managed naturally, you just have to find natural alternatives to toxicity. And it will not be instant relief. It will not take the pain away completely. That’s where you exercise the power of your mind and body instead.
If you want to get all Earthy for your pain relief, that’s one route. Check out this article by Verywell on Herbs for Natural Pain Relief. My advice is to try a combination of everything.
Here’s the thing. You won’t know your foods are helping you with the pain because you can’t feel it. If you eat garlic on your spaghetti for dinner, that is not going to take your back pain away. But it will help reduce the inflammation around it so just keep going even if you don’t feel relief.
Also, chiropractic is the best decision I made for pain relief. I highly recommend getting a good chiropractor when the pain gets too intense. Your spine is the root of your body. Keep it straight!
On top of food and chiropractic, there are a ton of tools you can buy that will manage daily pain. I have acquired a few over the years. I am going to share the ones that worked for me.
Here are the tools I use for natural pain relief:
- exercise ball
- foam roller
- inversion table
- Tempur-pedic mattress and cervical pillow
- acupressure mat
- ice paks
- standing desk
- knee brace
- heating pad with massage
- massage chair pad
- epsom salts
- essential oils
- CBD oil
- Organic teas
And of course, art supplies.
Combine your inner forces, art therapy, healthy foods, tools, laughter and belief to overcome the pain.
Listen to your body
I’m going to wrap this up here because you may be saying, alright, Caylin. I get you but I am still in pain and it’s never going away.
I am right there with you. As I’m writing this, I am in pain. My head hurts. My back hurts. My knee hurts.
What I do know is that I’m going to get up and live my life with a positive outlook the best way I know how and rest when I need to.
Full transparency here, I suck at down time. My whole life I’ve been a powerhouse of energy, despite the pain. I have gone so fast at times that I’ve ended up in the hospital!
Slow down. Listen to your body.
When your body is telling you to rest. Do it. Don’t push yourself too hard. When you are done resting through, get up and move. Don’t stay down for long.
When life throws you off track, get right back on. Injuries are going to happen. Heal up, lean on your support system and then get right back on track.
Here are my go-to tips for overcoming fear and managing your pain naturally:
- Be aware of your pain.
- Overcome the fear of being in pain with art therapy.
- Lose the anger. No one cares.
- Think positive. Do positive affirmations daily.
- Eat right. Be well to your body. It’s the only one you have.
- Don’t do drugs. Research natural remedies for daily relief.
- Listen to your body.
- Believe in yourself.
That last one will come when you have combined all of the tips and tricks I mentioned in this article.
Become aware of your inner power.
You got this.
Image Credit: https://unsplash.com/@sommi, https://unsplash.com/@rhondak