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Pain Management Class

January 4th, 2016 · No Comments

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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