Category Archives: Thrive Pain Campaign

8 TIPS to Help Clients Do Homework

Posted June 6, 2018

Dr. Lane P.: Hi, I’m Dr. Lane Pederson. One of the most common questions I get from participants in my seminars is, How do I get clients to do homework? In this short video, I’m going to share with you eight tips that I find to be very effective. Continue reading

Relaxation Script for Pain

Posted December 13, 2017

Studies indicate that up to 50% of individuals diagnosed with chronic pain will also meet the DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria for anxiety. This is because many individuals who experience chronic pain describe anxiety and pain distress as a circular fashion: pain contributing to stress, which leads to muscle tension, which leads to more pain. It is important to practice relaxation strategies to cope with anxiety which will release tension in the body. You will find one example of a relaxation script below. In addition, use your mindfulness skills to pay attention to your body’s needs and shift the relaxation script as needed.

Breathing and Body Relaxation Script:

  • Begin by resting your body in a comfortable position. You may close your eyes, or if you are more comfortable keeping them open, stare at a fixed focal point in the room. Start grounding your awareness into your body. Feel your feet firmly meeting the floor, your back supporting you in your chair.
  • Once you have physically grounded yourself, slowly bring your attention to your breath. Notice the patterns of your breathing- the inhalation, pause, and exhalation.
  • Observe the rise and fall of your belly as you are breathing. If you notice that you are breathing from the chest, work to slow your breathing down, with slower and deeper breaths from your diaphragm. Allow for a few more rotations of this breath, going deeper and deeper into your core.
  • The goal of this breathing exercise is target a slower breath, a soothing breath. Perhaps counting allows you to pace your breathing. Try this experience, perhaps starting with intervals of 4 seconds.
    • Inhale, 2, 3, 4. Pause, 2, 3, 4. Exhale, 2, 3, 4. Inhale, 2, 3, 4. Pause, 2, 3, 4. Exhale, 2, 3, 4.
  • Repeat for a few more rotations.
  • It is natural for distractions to pop up in your mind. If you observe a distraction, identify it as just a thought and redirect your attention to your breathing.
    • Inhale, 2, 3, 4. Pause, 2, 3, 4. Exhale, 2, 3, 4.
  • Continue this breathing until you have found a natural rhythm of inhalations and exhalations that work for your body today.
  • Continuing to move with this rhythm, consider the idea of releasing tension with your exhalation as we expand into meditation with the breath. Feel yourself working to inhale calming energy, and exhaling muscle tension.
    • Inhale calm, 2, 3, 4. Pause, 2, 3, 4. Exhale tension, 2, 3, 4. Inhale calm, 2, 3, 4. Pause, 2, 3, 4. Exhale tension, 2, 3, 4. Imagine your body slowly releasing all of the built up tension.
  • As you work through your muscle groups, observe the experience of feeling lighter in your muscles are you work to cleanse your body of the tension.
    • Inhale calm, 2, 3, 4. Pause, 2, 3, 4. Exhale tension, 2, 3, 4.
  • Continue this process for as long as you find meaningful for you. When you are ready, you may begin the process of orienting yourself back to your surroundings. Feel your back against the chair, your legs against the chair, your feet resting on the ground. When you are ready, you may start to shift your body and prepare to move on to the next part of your day. Remember that you can return to this place, to ground yourself and release tension in your body, at any time you choose.

Asking for Help With Pain

Posted November 21, 2017

It can be challenging for individuals with chronic conditions to find the balance when asking for help. Many people have experienced barriers with everyday household activities and responsibilities as well as occasions of cancelling plans due to pain. It is common for individuals to feel like they will upset their support system by asking for help.  This leads many people to keep their needs to themselves. It can be easy to think that other people will automatically know what you need, and frustrations can result when they don’t get it.

Even though it may feel this way, keep in mind that we don’t know what other people are thinking.  Other people cannot read your mind to know what you need. It is appropriate to ask for help, and doing so builds self-respect. Use this idea as motivation to prepare and reach out

  • Start by identifying your different support needs. This includes emotional and physical needs.
  • The clearer and more specific you are, the better.
  • Communicate with your supports ahead of time. Ask them what kind of help they are willing to offer. For some, it may be help with chores like carrying laundry. For others, it may be help with getting to appointments or providing emotional support during challenging times.
  • Make sure to reinforce others for jumping in.

It may feel challenging in the moment to follow up and ask for help. Remember that your supports have shared with you what they feel comfortable with, and to trust their word and intention with what they offered. Use mindfulness to work on balancing the acceptance of help from others with the things you can do independently to enhance your quality of life.

Being Your Own Care Advocate

Posted November 6, 2017

Don’t get lost in the shuffle.
When you have chronic pain and mental illness, it is easy to feel like your sense of self gets lost in the shuffle. Between all the appointments, lists of diagnoses, and varying treatment opinions, it is common to feel overwhelmed as you wonder how to become your own care advocate. Pair this with limited appointment availability and you have a recipe for reduced advocacy as you feel unheard and shut down.  It may also lead to treatment burn out and turning to your providers as the directors for your treatment.

You are the expert!
It is true that your providers may be the experts in certain assessments and interventions. This does not mean that they are the experts in your day-to-day experience. Keep in mind that you are not only the consumer and advocate for your care, but also the expert in your daily life. YOU are the one who lives in your body and the only one who knows how this truly feels. You are your own advocate. Hold on to this idea so it empowers you to ask for help as you advocate and direct your care. If something doesn’t feel right, speak up. Ask questions. The goal is to advocate and collaborate with your team—you as the expert in your life meeting with the provider in the middle, to develop the best plan for you based on your experiences, goals, and values.

Thrive for Mental Health and Chronic Pain Management Care Advocate

 

Written by:
Morgan Cusack, PsyD
Program Coordinator of Thrive for Mental Health and Chronic Pain Management at MHS

Preparing for a Provider Appointment

Posted October 23, 2017

It can be sometimes feel daunting to get all of your goals met during your provider appointment. Between your questions and goals, the treatment planning of the provider, and limited appointment length it can feel like there isn’t enough time to get everything accomplished. This can be frustrating and disheartening for individuals who experience chronic pain and medical conditions. To avoid feeling shut down during your appointments, it is important to take active steps in preparing for these meetings. This planning can help to build confidence and sense of control, in addition to working towards efficiently meeting your goals.

Prior to your appointment, take some time to plan ahead. Write down your list of questions and goals. Gather any medical history, medication lists, and any symptom tracking details you have been collecting. It can be helpful to store these details in a folder or binder. Plan out your transportation, and make sure to allow for plenty of time for unexpected traffic or road construction. Will there be parking on or off site? What is the schedule or call ahead policy for scheduling transportation? When you arrive at your appointment, ask your provider to establish the timeline, and share the tools you have gathered and your top priority goals for that meeting. Bring a notepad and pen, and make sure to write down any questions or next steps recommended by your provider. These tips can allow you to not only increase your experience of feeling heard during the appointment, but can also increase your ability to understand the treatment and to follow through effectively afterwards.

Written by:
Morgan Cusack, PsyD
Program Coordinator of Thrive for Mental Health and Chronic Pain Management at MHS