Let’s face it, there are a lot of websites, books, podcasts, etc. out there that are resources for both chronic pain and/or personal growth. So many, that it’s hard to sort through to find the good ones. I have been on a personal growth journey for several years, and that journey started just over a year after my UCTD/fibro diagnoses. So for me, they are fairly tied together. While I recognize that is not going to be the same for everyone, I just want to show that it is possible to learn to cope with chronic pain and engage in personal growth and development at the same time. Which is a little different that say Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, which states that basic needs – such as safety and health (I think chronic pain falls under these subcategories) need to be met before achieving self-actualization. If anything, it seems to align more with some schools of existentialism, like that of Viktor Frankl, who could find meaning even while living in a concentration camp (basic needs not being met).
All that said, here are some of my favourite resources for chronic pain and personal growth:
A Chronic Voice (blog) – I’ve actually guest-posted on this blog. Sheryl does an amazing job with blog and has a ton of informative and helpful articles and posts.
The Pain Toolkit (website) – Pete Moore is a person with lived experience who presented at the World Pain Summit that I attended in October 2021. His pain toolkits, workshops, and other resources are comprehensive and impressive.
Tiny Buddha (website) – This website probably falls under the “personal growth” category but because there is a ton of evidence of mindfulness helping improve the lives of those with chronic pain, you may find it beneficial as well.
When the Body Says No – this book by Gabor Mate (MD) is quite informative about chronic pain itself, and includes real life stories about his patients over the years. It can be helpful for shifting perspective and gaining understanding of all of the biopsychosocial factors that affect pain and illness.
Full Catastrophe Living – Jon Kabat-Zinn (MD) writes about his mindfulness-based stress reduction program, research that supports it, and how it (and mindfulness more generally) helps with both physical and mental health. Definitely a read if you’re interested in mindfulness already.
Tuesdays with Morrie – this classic book takes us through several Tuesdays that author Mitch Albom spends with his former university professor, Morrie Schwartz, who is dying of ALS. It offers a lot of wise advice and can help with outlook and perspective in living with illness.
Admittedly I don’t listen to a ton of chronic illness/pain podcasts, but these are some with great overlap.
Unf*ck Your Brain – hosted by life coach Kara Loewentheil who has chronic pain and offers advice and coaching on a variety of topics. She includes a feminist perspective and some cognitive-behavioural inspired techniques.
Therapy Chat – designed for both therapists (and hosted by a therapist) and anyone interested in mental health, there are a ton of episodes on chronic pain because of the overlap of pain/illness and trauma (the hosts’ specialty is trauma). Not a substitute for therapy, but definitely a resource for psychoed.
The Happiness Lab – I think this is just a fantastic podcast for anyone because we all have misperceptions about what will make us happy, and we can learn a lot about what will actually make us happy from Harvard Psychology professor Laurie Santos and her guests.
Okay, I’m actually just going to plug my own content here – don’t hate me for it.
Kelsey L Harris Meditations – I offer a ton of mindfulness and meditative-type exercises, many of them that work great with chronic pain, and most based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy which has been shown to be helpful for chronic pain.
Aligning Mindfully – my other meditation channel which include a 5 minute meditation challenge (with more meditations and challenges coming soon!).
I hope you all find these resources helpful! If you have any others that you think should be on the list, please comment so I can check them out as well! Keep making the most of it!