Monday, April 21, 2008

Getting the balance right is like walking a tight rope.

Getting the right balance between doing therapy and family, work or social activities is almost like walking a tight rope for people with chronic pain. One of the hardest things is accepting our situation and sometimes letting go of our pre-pain identity. (I found that really hard.) Often the reality is that we cannot do all that we managed to do before. We need to redefine what is the new normal for us. Pushing on when our body is telling us we've done enough can set us back in the long term so that we "pay for it" later. Above all, I think that we need to believe that we deserve to give ourselves the time to work at helping ourselves. That's especially hard for those who have always seen themselves as helping others.

Although sometimes the direction in which life takes us impacts on our sensible life choices, pacing and keeping stress to a minimum is our basic survival plan. It's easy for me to say pace, a little and often but in a practical sense how do you do this?
I believe the secret lies in HTCwP's posts on changing a habit.

Here's what works for me. I had to get in the habit of doing this by practising every day. I divide the day into the number of therapy sessions I can manage.
At present I do five a day.
  • Before I get out of bed I breathe in for 4 and out for 6-8 with a pause in between. On the first day I do this I'll do 12 sets of in/out breaths which is about 3 minutes in total. I increase the time by one set occasionally. I then stretch whilst lying down and finally do some exercises sitting on the bed.
  • About morning tea time I do breathing again followed by some different exercises (usually either with weights or a band).
  • Before lunch I breathe again and do a different exercise and
  • again in the afternoon and
  • in bed at night I do muscle relaxation and breathe again.
My exercises don't take long and I vary what I do each time. The breathing is calming and is mindful if you focus on what is happening as you breathe. HTCwP has good posts on "mindfulness".
Allow yourself time to practice and develop a routine whether at home or at work. (It's in their own best interest to allow you time for therapy and rest at work.)

The other things I do are to notice and correct my posture if I am in more pain or tired and to try and move "normally". The more we move normally the more we reinforce the "OK" message in the brain.

Above all else I believe we should listen to our body,
I encourage you to alter and enhance your life style to accommodate your needs and feel empowered by knowing you are helping yourself.

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