Pain is a loaded gun. Whether emotional or physical, introduce a high dose of pain and even the strongest, baddest, toughest among us can be immobilized. I have pushed a child out of my groin not once, but THRICE. The first time this happened I was so confused. I actually didn’t understand why it felt like someone was ripping me open from the inside with a hacksaw. By the third time I had apparently forgotten my previous two bouts with death. I crumpled into a pile on the floor and used what was left of my depleting oxygen to mouth the word “help,” to the nurse. I wanted morphine and a straw.
What if I told you that your body actually dishes out something very similar to morphine, and it’s totally legal for you to use it. The hormone is called endorphin, and endorphins serve one purpose in your body, and that is to mask our pain. It is your body’s natural way of releasing painkillers which allow you to continue moving forward on tasks that would otherwise immobilize you.
I used to be a runner. I say “used,” because it was a past life. In fact, I am no longer even sure if it was me. I had a college scholarship for track and at my peak I was able to run 5 miles in about 35 minutes. Then I had children. Now I mark it a win if I pick my body up off the couch on a Sunday to snatch a Poptart. That said, I do remember, once upon a time, having a good run, and then getting home and taking off my shoes, only to discover my feet had blistered. Why couldn’t I feel the blisters until I stopped running? Endorphins.
Endorphins don’t necessarily help you feel good, but they DO help you feel less bad. And like all good drugs, you can get hooked on endorphins. This is why these crazy people actually CHOOSE to work out rather than watch 5 straight episodes of Downtown Abbey. They are addicts.
In today’s world there is A LOT to be depressed about. The United States is floundering in nearly every academic standard. Men are ceasing to be present in fatherhood at alarming rates. Women are posting selfies and ductaping quotes by the Daili Lama on them thinking that that somehow means they are activists for equality? There are a lot of things you can look at today, and feel pained over. I just had a student sit in my office and talk about how emotionally painful this semester has been for her. I think the last few weeks of this election have been emotionally taxing for most of us with a newsfeed. In the midst of all that I want to take a minute and offer you some good news; your body is capable of dealing with pain, and it even has a built in defense mechanism to help you beat it.
If you are struggling through a break up right now, go to the gym. Exercise is one of your body’s best ways of naturally masking pain. Endorphins don’t just treat pain they can also alleviate anxiety and depression. So put down your bong and pick up some sneakers. Laughter is another easy way to induce a rush of endorphins. So invite your best friend over, and watch your favorite comedy make fun of your exes, and sift through old photos of the two of you from middle school. It will actually allow you to breathe easier, less stifled by life’s pain.
Laughter, smiling, exercise, all these things will help you naturally diminish your bodies perception of pain, and it’s a lot easier than smuggling morphine out of your local Pharmaceutical rep during the night at gunpoint.
You will survive this divorce, break up, injury, and failure. It may take time to fully allow your heart to heal, but these few tricks may help you get through the next Saturday night.
Heather Thompson Day is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Andrews University. She is the author of 5 Christian books including Life After Eden, available now. You can follow Heather on Twitter or IG at HeatherThompsonDay
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