Tags: Behavioral Pain Relief, Chronic Pain, Holistic Health, Integrative Medicine, mental-health, mind body medicine
One of the biggest challenges for people who live with chronic pain is the ambiguity of not knowing if or when the pain will lessen or end altogether. We all appreciate seeing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, and most of us prefer for the journey to be as brief as possible.
In many life situations, we can ensure the tunnel is finite and that we travel through it at an acceptable rate of speed. With chronic pain, however, clients don’t necessarily have the opportunity to alter the duration of their distress.
This perceived lack of control over their situations can lead some clients to feelings of victimization, hopelessness and despair. Here are some strategies that have been invaluable to me personally, since I’ve lived successfully with chronic pain for decades, as well as in my work with clients:
When clients are inundated with sensations of pain and discomfort that seem to be endless, it’s easy for them to slip into the role of victim. If medical interventions have failed to bring about sufficient relief, clients can plunge even deeper into despair.
Sometimes, even the smallest positive and decisive actions can help to reverse any negative feelings. There are always interventions clients can pursue that will help tip the balance and turn the sense of victimization into one of victory.
Help your clients to seek out areas in which they can make some decisions that will likely lead to successful outcomes, such as choosing to increase their level of knowledge about their condition, embarking upon a gentle exercise regimen, or making an appointment with a physical or occupational therapist.
Break down challenges into bite-sized pieces.
It’s easy for clients to become overwhelmed when faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges. When chronic pain limits one’s ability to tackle large projects, suggest that the client break the project down into smaller tasks that can be achieved at his or her own pace.
For example, instead of attempting to clean out the entire garage, focus on one corner first. When clients accomplish these smaller goals, it can boost their confidence and help fuel their desire and resolve to continue moving toward a larger goal.
Indulge in positive sensory experiences.
Chronic pain can wear people down – even those who are well-versed in mindfulness and other coping techniques. That’s why it is vital to ensure clients experience some pleasurable moments each day.
I always recommend dedicating the time to creating positive sensations that can at least temporarily compete with any distressing symptoms. These enjoyable feelings can involve any of the senses and can be something as simple as relaxing in a warm bath or enjoying foods that delight the taste buds. Encourage clients to practice mindfulness and really savor the moment when engaging in these gratifying activities.
Don’t let pain define you.
Chronic pain can take a toll on self-esteem as limitations become more evident and affect clients’ daily lives in ways they never expected. It’s important to encourage self-esteem building exercises to help clients nourish a self-concept that is separate from pain and suffering.
Our clients are dynamic and resilient beings who happen to live in bodies that may not be working properly. But that doesn’t mean that the essence of who they are is broken. Helping clients to make that distinction between their consciousness and the shell that contains it can be quite empowering.
Make peace with your body.
While people who suffer from chronic pain may not like the idea of residing within the confines of bodies that hurt, it’s still important to make peace with their bodies in order to live rewarding lives. And to take it a step further, clients must move beyond simply accepting their bodies and make the decision to nurture them.
Living with chronic pain is a challenge that requires the mind and body to work together in a harmonious manner. Encourage your clients to listen to their bodies and to meet their physical requirements, even if they conflict with what a client would rather be doing. It may not be the most exciting choice to forego an activity during a flare-up of pain or to eat a more healthful diet, but these body-affirming decisions will help ease your client’s symptoms in the long run.
These strategies for living a vibrant life despite chronic pain should complement the work you’ve already completed with your clients and will provide them with some tangible, practical tactics they can implement immediately.
The Mind Body Medicine Network, LLC is dedicated to bringing you the BEST clinical webinars in Mind Body Medicine in the World. In this spirit, please join us for our next clinical webinar on how to “Control the Migraine,” with Bonnie Groessl, MSN, APNP. This 90-minute webinar will take place on Sunday, July 29, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. EST/6:00 p.m. CST/5:00 p.m. MST/4:00 p.m. PST. This live and interactive webinar will be recorded if you miss the live event. For registration for the webinar/recording, please click HERE.
The “Control the Migraine” webinar will provide you with the techniques and strategies to help you or your patients/clients to significantly bring much needed relief to migraines. Start enjoying life more with less pain. This webinar has the power to change and heal the lives of those that suffer through migraine headaches. Click HERE to get started living with less pain and more relief! (Written by Tina Tarbox, M.S.. Tina will be presenting our February 2013 webinar on significant steps to alleviate chronic pain and illness.)
Ed Glauser, M.Ed., N.C.C., LPC
Mind Body Medicine Network, LLC
Tags: chronic pain management, Integrative Medicine, migraine headaches, mind body medicine, pain management
Many of us have had a headache, but some of you know what it’s like to have the “monster headache.” About 30 million people suffer from migraine headaches in the United States alone. Many migraine sufferers find that medications are not as helpful as publicized. What about the people who do not find the relief they need from prescription medication alone? Are they doomed to suffer? The pain and disability of migraine is real, but suffering is optional. We all have more drugs in our brain than any pharmaceutical company could ever make.
Migraine sufferers can learn to use their own drug store to take control of their lives again and not rely solely on prescription medications. What we eat and how well we sleep, what we think, our emotions, how we move our bodies and handle stress all play significant roles in our experience of the migraine. This is largely due to the natural drugs we make in our brain.
Five foundational concepts are essential in learning to use the natural drug store effectively and successfully manage migraines. These include lifestyle, nutrition, learned associations, the power of the mind-body connection and stress management.
Here are some tips for you or the migraine sufferer in your life:
- Eat three meals a day (Yes, breakfast is the most important meal!)
- Stabilize your blood sugar by eating in balance
- Eat real foods and avoid processed or fast foods
- Drink at least eight glasses of water each day
- Avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame (NutraSweet)
- Move your body; exercise in some way
- Don’t just count the hours of sleep, make sure it’s restorative sleep
- Notice the thoughts and feelings you have most of the time
- Learn to journal your migraines in a beneficial way
- Be aware of your stress, present and past
- Practice gratitude every day
The next 90-minute and interactive “Control Your Migraine” webinar with Bonnie Groessl, MSN, APNP will be on Sunday, July 29, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. (EST), 6:00 p.m. CST, 5:00 p.m. (MST), 4:00 p.m. (PST). Click HERE to register for the Webinar.