For Grace’s Women In Pain
Awareness and Education Project
101 Ideas to Empower Women In Chronic Pain
to Survive & Thrive!
As you all know, just getting through any day with persistent pain is a challenge.
For Grace has assembled these easy-to-do, self-empowering tools and resources to help you better manage your pain, improve your care and, ultimately, enhance your overall wellness.
Remember to have fun—and seize the day!
- Take a long bubble bath and light some candles.
- Slow down—and breath deeply…
- Use aromatherapy—relax to your favorite scents.
- Meditate, with a group or by yourself.
- Listen or make music (i.e., play a CD, sing or play an instrument.)
- Get a massage by a professional masseuse – or someone you love…
- Seek out things that make you laugh—remember, laughter is the best medicine!
- Buy a bouquet of flowers to cheer up your surroundings!
- Grow something—commune with Mother Nature!
- Stir your imagination—imagine a pleasant experience, moment, sensation…
- Make or craft something (i.e., knit a scarf, do pottery, etc.)
- Go to an outdoor concert, and don’t forget to pack a picnic.
- Treat yourself to a manicure and/or pedicure. Be Queen for a day!
- Explore an antique store—lose yourself among the treasures…
- Practice mindfulness—be in the moment…
- Try art therapy (i.e., paint or draw a picture that shows how you feel!)
- Use narrative therapy (i.e., write your pain experience.)
- Keep a gratitude/affirmation log (write down three things you’re grateful for each day.)
- When depression and/or anxiety hits, don’t fight it. Know it’s a part of the natural pain experience. But don’t hold on for too long…
- Accept that everything you’re feeling is real and normal.
- Take a class, learn something new—and stimulate your mind!
- Wear a bright color—they excite the senses!
- Reflect upon affirming, positive memories…
- Read a great book—or a breezy romance novel.
- Express your true and authentic self. You’re the only you!
- Think positive, affirming things about yourself.
- Take a trip, even if it’s a virtual one.
- Seek support through a professional pain counselor.
- Make a change and surprise yourself (i.e., get a new haircut, try a new recipe, etc.)
- Get dressed up and put your make-up on, just because it makes you feel good!
- Keep a positive attitude, hang in there and keep the faith!
- Practice appreciation for your healthcare providers—more often than not, they’re trying their best to help…
- On a bad day, remember what Scarlet O’Hara said, “Tomorrow is another day!”
- Notice and appreciate the splendor of the season changes…
- Learn a foreign language…or two! Exercise that part of the brain that doesn’t read pain signals.
- Choose something you love, and do it every week, same day and time. A joyful routine gives you something sweet to look forward to…
- Don’t let your pain define you. Remember that while pain is now a part of your life experience, it’s not your identity.
Care of the Body
- Exercise regularly and keep your body moving. Hydrotherapy in warm water is especially effective with pain conditions.
- Eat a healthy diet (fruits, vegetables, lean meats, etc.)
- Avoid or quit smoking!
- Practice good sleep habits—enjoy waking up refreshed and renewed.
- Be open to alternative and complimentary therapies (i.e., acupuncture, guided imagery, etc.)
- Have realistic expectations about therapies (i.e., have you given your physical therapy regimen enough time to help?)
- Educate yourself about your pain condition. But don’t obsess and let it consume you…
- Listen to your body talk—you know it better than anyone else!
- Learn to say “no”—avoid stress by not over-burdening/committing yourself.
- Spend time in the sun—and don’t forget that all-important sun block!
- Practice good posture. A well-aligned and supported spine is virtually guaranteed to help any pain condition.
- Do something nice for someone—it feels good, and that energy is sure to come back your way.
- Learn to forgive those who have disappointed you throughout your pain experience; anger is further fuel for pain!
- Adopt a pet. Unconditional love is good for the soul…
- Give someone a hug—who knows, you might just get two back!
- Volunteer for your favorite charity, school or organization. Doing good is chicken soup for the soul!
- Throw yourself a party. Celebrate an accomplishment with family and friends!
- Get involved in your community (i.e., attend neighborhood council meetings, help plan a block party, etc.)
- Seek out fellow chronic pain sufferers through on-line discussion boards and support groups at medical centers. These bonds could last a lifetime.
- Don’t forget about lovemaking with your partner. Intimacy is second to none to revive the soul and senses!
- Spend quality time with a child or children (yours, nieces or nephews, etc.)—they’ll help you see the world with eyes of wonder!
- Have an afternoon tea with some girlfriends.
- Accept an invitation to a party or other social event, even if you’re in pain. It’s great misdirection—and you’ll probably find yourself having a dandy time!
- Be open to talking to family and friends about your pain experience—and answering their naturally inquisitive questions. If they’re curious, they probably care. Try not to shut them out…
- Remove toxic people from your life—as stress and strain that comes from bad relationships makes pain worse. It’s appropriate to walk away from inappropriate people!
- Remember it’s your body—and ultimately all possible treatment options are your choice.
- Be prepared for your doctor visits (i.e., have questions ready, be educated about your pain condition(s), etc.)
- Partner with your doctor. You’ll get better pain care results if you work as a team.
- Bring a family member or friend with you when you go to a doctor’s appointment. They can advocate for you—and it’s good for your doctor to know someone cares and is watching out for you.
- Examine and weigh your therapy options—the biggest “guns” may not be the answer for you.
- Don’t let your doctor pressure you into a therapy that you don’t want to do!
- Interview your pain management provider (i.e., What kind of therapies do you support for my condition?, Are you open to alternative/complimentary therapies?, etc.)
- Remember, one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to pain treatments. We’re all unique—and what helps one person may not help another.
- Seek out references with any doctor referral (i.e., talk to other patients, look up his/her standing with the state medical board, etc.)
- Make sure your treating healthcare professional is assessing your pain level during each visit—remember, pain assessment is “the fifth vital sign.”
- Find out if your hospital and/or clinic has a “Patient’s Bill of Rights“—and if so, make sure your treating healthcare professionals are following it.
- Learn about the potential side effects of any and all medications you are considering or presently taking. Sometimes their adverse side effects can create more harm than the problem you’re taking the medication(s) for.
- Run—don’t walk!—from any physician or other healthcare professional who doubts, dismisses and/or discounts your report of pain!
- Encourage your family and friends to educate themselves about your pain condition(s) (i.e., provide them with website resources, articles, etc.)
- Educate yourself about all of your therapy/treatment options (including complimentary and alternative choices)—this will enable you to make the best, most informed decisions about your pain management care.
- Using a rating scale such as 0 to10 (0 = no pain, 10 = worst pain) is a useful way to communicate your pain to others and assess changes in your own pain.
- Use the rating scale to rate how much relief you are receiving. For example, if your pain therapy relieves your pain from a “10” to a “7”, this is a good step. But knowing your pain is a “7” should suggest that you still require additional help.
- Prevention of pain is key. Anticipate things that bring your pain on (exhaustion, dehydration, stress, etc.) and make every attempt to prevent pain versus responding only when it happens.
- When taking pain medication, always consider what non-drug treatment you could use along with it. Using heat/cold/massage/relaxation can diminish anxiety and distract you from the pain until the medication can begin working.
- Discover accurate and effective words to describe your pain (i.e., burning, stabbing, aching, pins and needles, electrical, throbbing, etc.) to help your healthcare provider with diagnosis and treatment.
- For chronic pain problems, it is generally better to take medications on a regular, around-the-clock schedule rather than only on a “prn”/as needed basis only when pain is severe.
- Fortunately, there are many choices of analgesics (be it traditional, complementary or alternative)—so if a particular pain therapy that has been prescribed doesn’t work or causes side-effects, ask to try another.
- In general for chronic pain, long-lasting medications are preferred to offer several hours of undisturbed sleep or activity.
- If your doctor prescribes physical therapy, be sure to find a therapist you have a repore with. Explain your symptoms carefully, and go over your doctor’s report together. Also be sure to immediately alert your therapist to any pain you’re experiencing as a result of a therapy exercise.
- “Breakthrough pain” is pain that occurs in episodes between doses of medications. Discuss this with your physician to determine if breakthrough medications are needed.
- Inactivity or decreased function is a major problem in chronic pain and results in muscle weakness, dependence, depression—and this cycle only worsens over time. Try to maintain activity if at all possible.
- Depression and anxiety are generally an integral part of the pain experience—and can become severe. Don’t hesitate to tell your pain management provider about these feelings and indeed ask for a referral for a support group and/or psychologist. Your doctor should know psychologists who specialize in pain.
- Check out The Intractable Pain Patient’s Handbook for Survival by Dr. Forrest Tennent. Download a copy here: http://foresttennant.com/pdfs/IntractablePainSurvival.pdf
- Here’s a wonderful resource to help the people who care about you. Surviving a Loved One’s Chronic Pain by David Kannerstein, PhD and Sarah M. Whitman, MD. Download a copy here: http://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/resources/surviving-loved-ones-chronic-pain
- Here’s a great, up-to-date resource about pain medications! American Chronic Pain Association’s 2016 Medication & Chronic Pain Supplement. Download a copy here: http://www.theacpa.org/Consumer-Guide
- Get educated and informed about your pain condition(s)! Pain Information Library provided by the American Academy of Pain Medicine. Visit it at: http://www.painmed.org/Library/Clinical_Guidelines.aspx
- Go to the American Chronic Pain Association’s website and read check out their video series on Pain Patient Communication Tools: http://www.theacpa.org/Communication-Tools
- Listen in to For Grace’s Wonder Music Project and experience the healing power of music therapy!
- Visit the American Chronic Pain Association and find links to patient support groups throughout the US: http://www.theacpa.org/Support-Groups
- Go to PainTopics.org’s website and find an excellent section on pain patient resources, tools and information: http://www.pain-topics.org/patient_resources/index.php#chronic1
- Review the American Academy of Pain Management’s Pain Patient Resource webpage – Get Engaged, Get Active: http://www.aapainmanage.org/aboutus/Patients.php
- Visit Pain.com and see their full array of consumer support tools and resources:
- Check out the In the Face of Pain’s Pain Patient Advocacy Tools. Learn how to become an empowered voice for pain in your community! http://www.inthefaceofpain.com/
- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! See the Discovery Channel’s groundbreaking one-hour film, Pain Matters – the most comprehensive media ever done about the chronic pain experience: http://www.painmatters.com/