By Carol Charland
THE PAIN SURVIVAL KIT
This blog post is an excerpt from an eBook I use with chronic pain clients. It is designed to help you create your own Pain Survival Kit to combat painful flareups and manage chronic pain better.
Chronic pain is a complex issue. It is as individual as our own fingerprint in how we experience it. What works to relieve pain for one person may not work for another. The best way to see what approach works best for you is simple trial and error.
During a pain flare-up, we not only find ourselves coping with the increased pain but the stress and unpredictability of not knowing when it will subside, where flareups can last days, weeks and even for months at a time. With the unpredictability comes an emotional rollercoaster of guilt, self-blame and depression.
When overwhelmed by emotions you can face many challenges, it can feel as if everything you once knew or defined yourself by has vanished in an instant. You may consider yourself strong and independent until an increase in pain renders you homebound or in bed. You may find that it’s hard to think of anything other than the pain. It is in these times, when you feel a lack of control over your circumstances that relying on your pain survival kit to help you manage your pain symptoms is key.
The Importance Of Stress Management In Pain Control
Everyone benefits by reducing stress and anxiety, but it is especially important for people with chronic pain and illnesses. Emotional upset and stress can trigger painful flare-ups in most all chronic pain syndromes. The flight or fight response in the body makes muscles tight and tense, inflammation in the body increases and you find yourself in a flare up that may last a day, weeks or longer.
Included in this article is instructions for three popular methods for natural relaxation using Progressive Relaxation, Guided Imagery Visualization and an NLP Neurolinguistics Sub-modality. Using natural relaxation methods is essential to soothing the “fight or flight response” in the body and calming the nervous system. Doing this on a daily basis is like putting money in a savings account for a rainy day. When You do experience a pain flare-up your mind and body will already be trained for natural relaxation. Regular relaxation therapy can help you control stress better, develop healthy coping mechanisms and may even prevent the frequency of pain flareups.
Pain Survival 101
The key to pain survival is controlling stress and find healthy activities and therapies that works for you. Create a Selfcare program that helps you manage pain better
1. CREATE YOUR OWN INNER SANCTUARY: Use Progressive Relaxation, Guided Imagery Mediations, breathing exercises to calm the parasympathetic nervous system
2. RECORDINGS: Listen to a soothing meditations or guided imagery recordings to reduce stress and pain levels and relax before bedtime.
3. SELFCARE ACTIVITIES: Selfcare is preventative healthcare. Finding ways on a regular basis to soothe the soul and calm the mind and body is key.
4. MINDFULNESS: Mindfulness Meditation practices (a study found pain was reduced up to 70% by mindfulness meditation. You can find excellent videos on YouTube.)
The Pain Kit Guide: Planning Ahead
Create your Pain Kit by starting a notebook of your "go to" activities and coping techniques to use for pain flareups. Do this during your “good” low pain days, compile the list of things you will do to combat pain so that you are prepared when a Flare-up occurs. You may find that once you begin to use pain relief strategies with natural relaxation methods that you may enter into this ‘honeymoon” phase of less pain or very minimal flare-ups. By using this strategy, you will build self-confidence in your own ability to control pain and that is very empowering.
How To Create Your Own Pain Survival Kit
Keep a notebook of therapies you like using that soothes the soul, you find relaxing and to distract your mind from pain. Complete the list and prepare your Pain Survival Kit notebook on your “good” low pain days or you can have someone assist you in preparing your notebook kit.
You will keep a written list of pain management strategies like progressive relaxation or guided imagery recording in a notebook that help you cope with different levels of pain. This way when you are in a pain flareup, you don’t have to think of what therapy to use, you will have a completed list ready for you to choose from. This is your "GO-TO" notebook for activities that help you cope with pain flareups.
Pain Kit suggestions:
Medications as prescribed by your doctor
Daily Stretching, massaging muscles if tolerated, aqua pool therapy (please check with your doctor first)
CAM therapies; Massage, Reiki, Acupuncture, Reflexology, Hypnotherapy…
Heat can soothe pain. Heating blankets, or a warm Epsom salt bath
Relaxation: soothing music, candles, take a time out, walk in nature
Guided Imagery, Mindfulness meditation for pain
Schedule selfcare activities that soothe the soul, provide rest and restores your energy
Infrared light therapy
Distraction- find something to distract your mind like; adult color books, a comedy on TV, journaling, get creative juices flowing with a hobby or craft.
Endorphins are your brains natural painkiller (laughter releases endorphins so put your favorite comedy DVD in to watch)
Oxytocin hormone release reduces pain and is referred to as the happy hormone. It is released by showing and receiving affection/love making. A study was done that proved a therapy dog showing affection and petting the dog can release oxytocin!
Get Restorative sleep. Deep restorative sleep is crucial. There are many devices, white noise machines, hemi-sync CDs, NLP guided imagery for sleep.
Stay hydrated- drink more water
Eat anti-inflammatory foods/diet
Use Activity Pacing Program (found in my books) to eliminate over-flareups from over-activity. ·
Seek Medical help with severe flare ups or any change in condition.
Natural Methods of Relaxation For Pain Relief
Exercise 1: Create Your Inner Sanctuary
This natural relaxation exercise is designed to automatically connect the mind and body to relaxation. It uses the image of a warm sunny beach in a guided imagery visualization, make it someplace special where you can mentally escape; be free of pain, and relax. It is your inner sanctuary.
Take 3 deep breaths… and fully exhale to elicit the relaxation response in the body.
Picture in your mind a beautiful warm sunny beach. Perhaps it’s a place you’ve traveled to before or a place you’ve always dreamed of traveling to.
Use all your senses to place yourself there; feel warm sunlight on your face and body. The smell of fresh salt air, hear the sounds of the waves gently rolling into shore.
Use Progressive relaxation method to relax all the muscles in the body- start at the top of your head all the way to your toes, bit by bit you are relaxing muscles, loosening the grip of pain. *If you feel stressed, overwhelmed, having a bad day, a pain flareup from stress or emotional upset coming on… you will immediately use this technique to release the stress and pain.
Practice this technique daily: As soon as you visualize your special place and go to your inner sanctuary you should begin to feel the relaxation. You will be amazed at how quickly the “inner sanctuary” appears in your mind and you feel relaxation filling your mind-body. Muscles relax and tight tense pain lessens. The nervous system resets itself to calm relaxation.
Exercise 2: Progressive Relaxation With A Colorful Wave Of Pain Relief
Take 3 deep breaths… and fully exhale to elicit the relaxation response in the body.
Picture in your mind your “Inner Sanctuary”. a beautiful warm sunny beach. Use all your senses to place yourself there; feel warm sunlight on your face and body. The smell of fresh salt air, hear the sounds of the waves gently rolling into shore.
Breathe & Relax
Imagine a powerful silvery blue wave of color flowing down from the top of your head… this silvery blue is a cooling calming wave of pain relief… it goes to where ever you need pain relief. Let it flow down your face and throat, your shoulders and arms and hands… down your neck and back and spine… down to the legs and toes. It goes to where ever you need relief. Its calming and soothing, it relaxes the muscles, the tight grip of pain lessens (its more and more effective each time you use this technique) just imagine it absorbs the pain like a thirsty sponge… until gone.
Feel the flow of this soothing wave through out your mind and body.
Now scan your body… is there any place you need to send this beautiful wave of pain relief
Breathe and relax… escape into a daydream of being on a wonderful beach vacation… enjoy being in your inner sanctuary.
Exercise 3: The Pain Dial
Each morning (and anytime throughout the day you need to) You will use the pain scale dial to lower your pain levels.
You will take 3 deep breaths… exhale and relax. Relax the all the muscles in your body using progressive relaxation method.
Picture in your mind a master control panel with a dial on it. The pain dial has numbers on it from 10-Zero
Locate your level of pain on the dial (or you may simply start at the number 10) and begin to slowly turn the dial down.
With your breath you are turning the number on the dial down lower and lower, as you exhale your body is relaxing, muscles are loosening, pain is subsiding and finally it is fading away.
Count down 10-9-8- breathe and relax 7-6-5 with each number count 4-3-2-1-ZERO
At the number zero you are free of pain, calm and relaxed.
You will repeat this up to 3 times until you have lowered your pain level to Zero
TIP: Practice the pain dial each morning when you get up before you start your day. The more you use this image, the more immediate and responsive your body will become. Remember your body has no mechanism to tell it this is not the master control center. It simply follows what the mind instructs it to do.
The brain is what allows you to experience pain and the brain
is what allows you NOT to experience pain!
A Proven Method
In 2017, The University of Utah published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine their research conclusion stating: “after participating in a single 15-minute session of mind body medicine therapies patients reported an immediate decrease in pain levels similar to what one may expect from taking a painkiller”. (resource: pain pathways publication)
Self-Empowerment Through Self Care
You will find that practicing and using natural relaxation and pain relief methods very self-empowering and helps to build self confidence in your own ability to manage your pain. You will begin to notice a mental shift occur in how you act, feel, and think from being in pain mode into pain relief mode. Research has proven that when pain patients combine traditional medical care from their doctors with natural mind-body therapies like my program they gain self-confidence in their ability to manage pain levels, they become more active and function better in their daily lives but most of all they have better quality of life by having effective pain relief techniques available to them whenever they need it.
Finding Your Own Way To Cope And Manage Pain
Staying out of pain can feel like a full-time job, it can be exhausting just trying to find pain relief. I am aware that pain is very individual, we all experience it differently. Treating pain is not a one-size fits all solution. What works for one person may not for another. Everyone responds in their own way and in their own timing. I like to refer to that as “healing timing” because it can be different for everyone. When you experience high levels of pain- visiting doctors and constantly going in-and-out of medical facilities, invasive treatments, they can only offer so much relief then you have to find your own way to cope and manage with “your” pain levels. This is where opiate-free selfcare programs like my 4R’s Neuroplastic Healing System can help you manage pain better by integrating both your traditional medical care with complimentary-alternative type therapies.
You Can take Back Control of Pain. Start Creating Your Pain Survival Kit Today.
By Carol Charland www.carolcharland.com
Amazon "Retrain Your Brain" Wellness Series of Books: www.amazon.com/author/carolcharland