Chronic Pain – “Breathe”

breatheWhen I went to the follow-up group for our Chronic Pain Clinic a few years ago, they went around the room asking what was the best piece of advice we got for our coping toolbox.

I was the second person to answer and I did so in my very sincere tone and straight face, “How to breathe.” Well, people were laughing and nodding at the same time.

You see, while breathing is something that comes naturally, it doesn’t when it comes to chronic pain. The reflex action when you are doing something through pain is to hold your breath, right? Well, the trick is to actually exhale on the activity, whether it is a stretch, lifting something or even walking.

This simple fact has made my life a lot easier. But there is more.

If I am trying to work through a cramp or spasm, I use the breathing exercise we were taught – breathe in through your nose on the count of three, expanding your belly with the air. Then breathe out through your mouth on the count of six, slowly allowing your belly to empty. I use this also for relieving stress and trying to get to sleep. I usually do five to ten breaths at a time.

Another way breathing helps is just to concentrate on regular breathing to take my mind off a pain when I am in a situation where I can’t take meds, lay down, walk it out, etc. Just keeping my mind on breathing helps me manage the pain and not give it away that I even have it.

My lovable mutt, Violet has this thing when I sigh. Sometimes I am just trying to catch a breath (I have asthma amongst everything else), others I am taking a deep breath in reaction to pain or depression. But the one that worries her is that I am mad (which during severe bipolar episodes I could be. She is very sensitive, especially when it comes to me because we look after each other – two arthritic old ladies LOL! If I cry, she comes over and rests her head on my knee. So it has taken her awhile to adjust to my breathing habits.

While breathing is the most natural and important thing we do simply to live, it is even more so when you are living a life of chronic pain, mental illness or other chronic issues.

I am including the song “Breathe” by Christian artist, Jonny Diaz. While it is about the craziness of life and resting at the Lord’s feet, I think everyone can get something out of it. I know it really speaks to me on many levels.



17 Replies to “Chronic Pain – “Breathe””

  1. I’m one of those hold-your-breath sorts of people. I smacked the top of my head onto the freezer door handle, and the initial instinct is to hold my breath. But really, this is a great song and I passed it on over to the Music Director at my church, because I believe it’s something we could use for Worship.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I forgot to mention I also suffer from several chronic illnesses, the worst of which is MS. I can be fine one day, and the next my eyes hurt, or my hips or back or knees . . . etc, and the list goes on and on, with 23 different medications for one day, some two or three times a day. People tend to not realize the difference between ‘chronic’ and the other, which I can’t bring to the front of my mind, but will come breezing in later today (MS symptom) lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful song. I had never heard this one. One of my favorite songs of all time is “Just Breathe” by Pearl Jam, of which I’ve posted to my blog in the past. That’s what I always say, “just breathe.” It is amazing how when we just stop and concentrate on only our breathing, how much it really does help. We stop focusing on the pain and focus on our breathing……it absolutely helps me get through many rough patches of pain. I’m all about meditation and being mindful. Of course, I had to become so very ill to even be introduced to these things, but they are some really good tools to know and to have. I hope you’re having a much less pain free day. Take care. Peace out! 🙂


    1. Thank you so much for this note and the follow. I hadn’t heard the Pearl Jam song before. Thanks for suggesting it. Yes, it is sad that we sometimes have to something bad to learn the simple things in life. I apply breathing and meditating to so much now. Take good care!

      Liked by 1 person

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