Managing moods

It’s normal to struggle with moods when you have persistent pain. Emotions or moods linked to pain can take over day-to-day life.

Many people with pain say that finding positive ways to manage their mood changes makes a valuable difference to their pain and their lives. So how do they do it? . . .

We all go through periods of  ‘moodiness’ when we feel irritable, sad, frustrated or worried. People with pain often find they feel:

  • Angry and frustrated
  • Fearful and worried
  • Low and unmotivated

If you have these feelings then you probably find that they get in the way of your day-to-day life and feel quite overwhelming at times. It is common to think that there is nothing you can do as they just ‘take over’ and go on for a long time. This is because these mood changes come from the struggle of living with pain.

This is not your fault. It is more about how our human mind works when it is stressed with pain, we feel unwell or deal with difficult life events. The mind is trying to make sense of everything that is happening and cope with it all.

The good news is that you can do things to manage your moods better . . .

Ways to manage moods better

A tape recording in your head

You may have thoughts like, “I’m useless now”, “I’ll never do that again”, “Things are not going to work out” and “No-one seems to understand me now or want to help”. It is like a tape recording in your head, which no one else hears.

Realistic positive changes can come from learning to deal with these unhelpful thoughts.

Be kind to yourself

Being kind and compassionate to yourself is one of the best things that you can do. It’s very easy to be self-critical and beat yourself up for not being perfect or not getting the job done. But the more you do this, the more likely negative and unkind thoughts emerge. This pushes your pain networks into stress mode, they become more sensitive and so increases pain and distress.

You don’t have to be perfect!

So trying to be ‘100% perfect’ all the time can be unhelpful. Instead, ask yourself, “What is kind and caring for me, my body or mind right now?” Experiment and do things that lessen the stress or pressure. This will help your body’s natural opioids (the pain-reducing chemicals) to work better so they soothe some of the pain and upset in your mind. This in turn can reduce the adrenaline levels that increase stressful pressure and symptoms.

Remember that it is not your fault that the pain refuses to go away. So how can you help lessen the stress or pressure?

We’ve put together nine ways to work with moods. Here they are:
How to work positively with your moods

Useful resources

Five Steps to Mental Wellbeing

Evidence suggests there are five steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Trying these things could help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life. Find out more on the NHS website.

Visit the website

Self help resources in all formats

A wide range of free NHS self help resources in all formats – studio recordings and videos about all aspects of managing moods and emotions, including depression, anxiety, anger and many other areas.

Visit the website

Mindfulness on Soundcloud

Listen to free mindfulness audio meditations on the Breathworks Soundcloud page.

Visit the website

Mindfulness self-compassion

For a mindfulness self-compassion approach to pain and life struggles.

Visit the website

Managing moods
Key ideas

✔ It is normal to struggle with moods when you have persistent pain
✔ People who have learnt to manage their moods find it makes a big difference to their pain – and their lives
✔ Be kind and compassionate to yourself. Remember – it is “not your fault” that the pain refuses to go away
✔ There are many ways to lessen the stress or pressure you’re under. Discover which ones work best for you and then use them often
✔ Remember, you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask friends or family for help


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