Julianne Hough of Dancing with the Stars appears on the cover of the June/July issue of Pain-Free Living, which is on newsstands now. In an interview with our food editor, Julia Aparicio, Hough tells us about her experience with endometriosis and her support for a new awareness campaign.
If you saw the cover headline, “Migraines: Why a Positive Attitude Matters,” and thought, “Yeah, right,” I wouldn’t blame you. The notion that a person should stay positive in the face of serious migraine pain may sound preposterous. But it really can help, says writer Nicola Davies.
In her article “Let the Sun Shine In” (page 26), Davies, a health psychologist and counselor, introduces a term psychologists use: positive affect. It refers to positive moods such as joy, interest, and alertness. Applied to migraines, or any source of pain, the concept is enlightening.
“When a person expects pain, he or she often experiences it more intensely than someone who strongly believes he or she will not be impacted by pain,” Davies writes. “In addition, studies suggest that positive affect results in a person more actively avoiding migraine triggers.”
I’m also fascinated by Dr. Joe Tatta’s essay, “How Pain Is Created in Your Brain” (page 46). It’s an excerpt from his new book Heal Your Pain Now.
“Essentially,” he writes, “pain is an experience your brain has created based on past experiences, upbringing, cultural influences, thoughts, emotions, your environment, and your current stress level. With persistent pain, these factors are continuing to affect your brain’s decision to create pain, and they are interfering with your healing. For example, if you often have negative thoughts or are consumed by fear, anger, and guilt, your brain will continue to create a pain response long after your initial injury.”
That sounds a lot like the discussion Davies presents about positive affect and migraines. Both authors are challenging us to set aside our assumptions about physical pain and how to deal with it. I hope their advice helps you address your own health issues.