Most people who experience chronic abdominal pain (or any kind of chronic pain for that matter) feel somewhat hopeless about their situation. Whether there is an undering ailment that is driving the pain or the origin of the pain is unclear, there are steps you can take to help yourself live with a better quality of life.

1. Remember that chronic pain is complex. The abdomen is the central part of our body and when it is out of order, it can affect our entire lives. As much as we desperately wish for there to be one single moment in which we start feeling better, as much as we wish for one flip of the switch to make us better, that almost never happens.

Because unresolved pain in one area of ​​the body often gradually starts to affect other parts of the body, complex pain patterns can emerge that are hard to untangle.

In addition, all of the emotions we feel around our pain, our judgments of ourselves, our practitioners, our loved ones, and the sense of isolation we often experience get layered into the process of chronic pain. This often gets layered into the abdomen itself since, for most people, the belly is the seat of emotion in the body. It can take a lot of effort to unwind and make sense of all of this. Some measure of patience and a good therapist or partner or friend is needed for when our patience utterly fails us.

2. Work to connect. Chronic pain is exhausting and it is hard to do more than the absolute bare essentials of life when you're in the thick of it. But a little extra work in order to stay in loving connection with our bellies, with ourselves, is absolutely vital. A simple breathing meditation while laying your hands on your own belly can be of immeasurable help.

And of course it is so disappointing and frustrating to be in chronic pain. It's healthy to take breaks, to intentionally ignore what is happening for a few hours or days here and there. But in the end, our best information, our best source of knowledge about ourselves is … ourselves. Staying connected to our bodies and our minds no matter how crazy and problematic they seem at the moment is absolutely critical to our wellbeing.

3. Keep a log or a journal with dates. Over the years, my detailed chart notes have helped my clients maintain perspective on their progress. Healing most often moves in fits and starts and it can be hard to remember that we feel better now than we did last month because we still feel uncomfortable in this moment. A log to track your daily or weekly progress can reveal long-term trends that might utterly surprise you and knock your socks off with how far you have really come!