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Pain Management Class: Guided Imagery

February 29th, 2016 · Comments Off on Pain Management Class: Guided Imagery

This article is in our series featuring pain management techniques to help you decrease and cope with pain. It’s your at-home pain management class!

Guided imagery helps reduce pain even more directly than relaxation exercises through the use of suggestion. An image is paired with your pain, and by imagining decreasing or changing the picture in some way, your pain may also decrease. This exercise uses the image of special water.

Guided imagery of water

There are several ways to use this exercise:

  • listen to the audio on our website
  • read through the exercise and then do it from memory (it doesn’t have to be done exactly as I’ve written it)
  • tape record the exercise yourself, then play it back and listen (record it in your cellphone!)
  • have someone else read or record the exercise for you

As you try guided imagery, notice if you benefit even more than from using relaxation exercises.

Your assignment: Do a guided imagery exercise at least once a day

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Pain Management Class: Try 1/2 a Habit

February 22nd, 2016 · Comments Off on Pain Management Class: Try 1/2 a Habit

This article is in our series featuring pain management techniques to help you decrease and cope with pain. It’s your at-home pain management class!

Sometimes it’s hard to do things that will help yourself, even if you know they’re good for you. An intriguing suggestion comes from Haider Al-Mosawi. He writes that committing to a new habit – say, using your skills every day – doesn’t need to be a decision between zero commitment and 100% commitment. You can try 1/2 habits.

What does that mean?  Rather than commiting fully to a new habit, you simply take a step in its direction. Why is this better? Your focus then turns to the progress that you’re making instead of the times you don’t succeed. Here are some examples:

  • Commit to using your pain management skills every other day instead of every day
  • Meditate for 10 minutes instead of 20
  • Try to modify 1 favorite activity so you can still do it instead of all 5 of your hobbies

Your assignment:  Try 1/2 a habit

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Pain Management Class: Visualization

February 15th, 2016 · Comments Off on Pain Management Class: Visualization

This article is in our series featuring pain management techniques to help you decrease and cope with pain. It’s your at-home pain management class!

Visualization is using a picture or image to help you relax. Both relaxation and visualization reduce pain by helping you relax. An image that may people enjoy is the beach, but you can use any place or thing that you love.

(And as you’re reading this post today, click here for sounds of the ocean to accompany your reading!)

Visualization exercise

There are several ways to use this exercise:

  • play the audio of the exercise on our website
  • read through the exercise and then do it from memory (it doesn’t have to be done exactly as I’ve written it)
  • tape record the exercise yourself, then play it back and listen (try recording it in your cellphone!)
  • have someone else read or record the exercise for you

When you picture your image, use as many of your senses as possible with visualization – what you hear, smell, see, feel, etc. Some people find one favorite relaxation exercise and do just that one, while others like to vary the ones they use. Either way is fine.

Your assignment: Do a visualization exercise at least once a day.

(Thanks to Adwriter for the photo from Flickr.)

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Pain Management Class: Websites to Help You

February 8th, 2016 · Comments Off on Pain Management Class: Websites to Help You

This article is in our series featuring pain management techniques to help you decrease and cope with pain. It’s your at-home pain management class!

I hope you’re using pain management techniques regularly – or at least making progress getting into that habit! But none of us is perfect, and we can all use a boost, right? Here are some interesting websites that can give you that needed lift to start or stop whatever habit you’re focuing on, including regularly using your skills to decrease and cope with pain.

Sites that offer great information about sticking with your habit:

A websites to help you track your habit:

  • Walker Tracker: Track how many steps you take each day. Are you close to the suggested 10,000?

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Pain Management Skills: Relaxation Exercise

January 25th, 2016 · Comments Off on Pain Management Skills: Relaxation Exercise

This article is in our articles featuring pain management techniques to help you decrease and cope with pain. It’s your at-home pain management class!

Relaxation exercise help reduce pain by helping you be more relaxed.

Relaxation Exercise

There are several ways to use this exercise:

  • read through the exercise and then do it from memory (it doesn’t have to be done exactly as I’ve written it)
  • listen to it on this website
  • tape record the exercise yourself, then play it back for yourself to do (you can even do this on your cellphone)
  • have someone else read or record the exercise for you

Your assignment: Do the relaxation exercise at least once a day.

***To get every new article delivered to you for free the instant they're published, sign up for How to Cope with Pain by email or RSS feed.

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Pain Management Class: Breathing Exercises Part 2

January 19th, 2016 · Comments Off on Pain Management Class: Breathing Exercises Part 2

This article is in our series featuring pain management techniques to help you decrease and cope with pain. It’s your at-home pain management class!

Relaxed breathing can help you reduce pain by helping you relax.

stone with the word

Here are 2 for you to try:

You can use these exercises in several ways:

    • read through the exercise and then do it from memory (it doesn’t have to be done exactly as I’ve written it)
    • tape record the exercise yourself, then play it back for yourself (you can even do this on your cellphone)
    • have someone else read or record the exercise for you

Your assignment: Do at least 1 breathing exercise a day

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Pain Management Class

January 4th, 2016 · Comments Off on Pain Management Class

This series looks at ways to cope well with pain and how to get yourself to use helpful techniques regularly. It’s your at-home pain management class!

Before we jump into the actual skills, I want to take just a second to talk about changing behavior. Getting yourself to regularly use your pain management skills. If you think about it, it’s not as simple as just saying, yes, that would be good for me to do. Think about exercising, stopping smoking or eating better. Wanting to do those is one thing, but actually doing them is harder. It’s hard to change our behavior!

Habit change experts talk about the “stages of change”, the idea that people are at different points in wanting to make changes in their behavior. Find out where you are in these “Stages of Change”:

Stage 1: Precontemplation In this stage, you’re not really even thinking about using pain management techniques to help yourself.

What should you do at this stage? Write down what you’ve got to lose if you don’t try new exercises to help with pain. You don’t need to make any commitment to do anything different – just explore your options.

Stage 2: Contemplation In contemplation, you’re considering pain management techniques, but have not yet tried them.

What should you do at this stage? Write down the pros and cons of trying some pain management skills. What prevents you from trying some? What’s the best outcome for you if they work?

Stage 3: Preparation In this stage, you’ve decided to start using pain management exercises, but haven’t yet done so.

What should you do at this stage? Write down what exercises you’d like to try. Where will you learn some? (The articles on specific exercises in this series will be a lot of help!) When will you practice them? Write out your plan of action, being as specific as possible.

Stage 4: Action You’ve started to actively use pain management techniques. Good for you!!

What should you do at this stage? First, give yourself a cheer! Then, write down what’s working for you, and what problems you’re running into. Continue to work to incorporate doing exercises regularly into your life. Remember, it takes about 1 month for a new habit to take hold, so take extra care to keep practicing during this time!

Stage 5: Maintenance You’re regularly practicing exercises.

What should you do at this stage? Motivation is the key here. Figure out how to motivate yourself to continue using pain management skills. Reward yourself regularly, and give yourself pats on the back. Also, look at the times you don’t practice exercises as regularly as usual, and identify ways to keep going.

Stage 6: Relapse If you relapse, you go back to not practicing your skills regularly.

What should you do at this stage? First, don’t see it as a failure, but rather as an opportunity to learn. You’re human, be kind to yourself. Second, figure out where you are now in the stages, and start again as soon as possible. And lastly, take some time to figure out how you lost your footing, and identify ways to avoid it happening again.

Those are the stages, but we’re not done quite yet. Your challenge right now:

  • identify what stage you’re in
  • figure out 1 specific way to help yourself commit to using pain management skills regularly or to get yourself to actually do them
  • write down what you’ve identified for yourself at home

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Use Your Senses to Help with Pain: Kinesthetic Sense

October 19th, 2015 · Comments Off on Use Your Senses to Help with Pain: Kinesthetic Sense

How can our senses increase the positive in our lives? Today is: Kinesthetic Sense

Kinesthetic sense is our body awareness, our ability to sense where our body is in space as well as our sense of movement. When I think of how our sense of our bodies can help us, I think of beautiful movement such as dance or yoga. I also think that all sorts of effortless movement can help bring back freedom and joy. Activities such as ice skating, swinging in a swing, rolling down a hillside, skipping along, bicycling – those things that you laughed while doing as a child.

When in pain, we often start to dislike our bodies. Can you think of things you could do with your body that would bring you joy?

Your assignment: Each day, do 1 thing with your body that makes you smile!

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Use Your Senses to Help with Pain: Thermoception

October 12th, 2015 · Comments Off on Use Your Senses to Help with Pain: Thermoception

How can our senses increase the positive in our lives” Today is: Thermoception

Thermoception is our sense of temperature, our ability to detect hot or cold. Some of my favorite warm things – warm sand of the beach between my toes, the sun on my face, snuggling under warm blankets, sitting in front of a wood fire. Favorite cold things – ice cream, snow, cold water after a run.

Your assignment: Each day, notice 1 thing related to hot or cold that makes you smile!

(As you know, hot/cold can also help directly with pain. Heat – think heat packs, snuggling under blankets, or warm showers. Cold – think cold packs or menthol cream.)

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How to Live Well Book Review

October 7th, 2015 · Comments Off on How to Live Well Book Review

Toni Bernhard has written another great book, How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness! Her first one, How to Be Sick, is one of my all-time favorites, and this is a wonderful follow up.  Both books share her experience of living with chronic illness, including fatigue and pain. She fully describes her journey to figuring out how to best live with a new reality, using Buddhist principles of acceptance, compassion, and mindfulness.

How to Live Well is full of suggestions for coping and thriving with chronic illness:

  • finding joy in the life you now lead
  • how to soothe your body, mind and heart
  • using compassion to alleviate your suffering
  • facing ups and down with calmness and acceptance

When I most enjoyed about the new book is how full of examples it is. She describes exactly how she uses these coping techniques, and which ones she uses to deal with each particular challenge. Tony is also brave enough to share when she fails, and when things don’t work. I found the book very practical and clearly explained. I believe it would greatly benefit not just those with illness, but everyone facing life’s challenges, and of any spirituality.

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