Tips For Helping Clients Thrive Despite Chronic Pain

July 23, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Posted in Migraine Headaches, Mind Body Medicine, Pain Management, Pain Relief | 6 Comments
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by Tina Tarbox, M.S.

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:

Take decisive actions.

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

http://www.mindbodymedicinenetwork.com/Webinars.html

 

6 Comments »

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  1. […] more on this topic via my guest post on the Mind Body Medicine Network’s blog. And thanks to Ed Glauser, M.Ed., N.C.C., LPC, for sharing my work with clinicians and […]

  2. Thank you for another informative, helpful and dynamic blog. LC

  3. Thank you , I look forward to each of your posts.
    I use Hypnotherapy and create a control room within the mind giving the client a opportunity to use the dials within the room to control pain in different areas of the body. Once learned by the client creates a new reality in the sub-conscious mind with very good success.

    • Ron, Thank you so much for the affirmations about our posts! I really see the efficacy in your approach too. Ed

  4. Hi Ed,
    Great blog….I could not agree more…I use all!! the techniques you have outlined above…it’s a daily challenge, but one that can be faced headlong and managed. Reduce stress, to your body, within your body and your mind, that’s number one for me.

    • Ellen,

      Your comments made my day and inspires me to keep going with this approach and sharing it with others.

      With much gratitude,

      Ed


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