What are your strategies for managing a bad pain (flare) day?
So you may be thinking well my pain is bad all of the time anyway, however a pain flare up is a dramatic increase in a person’s level of pain that occurs suddenly.
Pain flares (also known as breakthrough pain) aren’t a new pain, but an increase of an already existing pain. Flare-ups are highly subjective to the individual person. Some people may have a pain flare up that lasts for a few minutes or hours, while others can have flares that last for days or even weeks at a time.
Sometimes a pain flare up may be triggered by an injury, or by stress. Other causes of a pain flare up may include every day activities, such as working, or exercise.
Frequent pain flare ups can be debilitating, potentially stopping you from being able to engage with your life, it may stop you being able to look after the kids, stop you from working, stop you from being able to do the housework, study, the list is endless…
So how can you manage?
My number one recommendation is personal counselling and mindfulness meditation 😉
Regularly taking your medication as prescribed by your GP, or Hospital Consultant is important in managing symptoms of pain.
I would also like to look at some self-management strategies that I have used for my pain, that may be helpful for you too…
If you are able to, my number one suggestion is pacing of daily activities and rest.
The best present I’ve ever received and one that revolutionised my pain management is a heated blanket that I have on my bed. Even half an hour resting in bed with the heated blanket on makes me feel a million times better.
If like me, sleep is an issue due to pain, being able to rest for a short period of time in the day can also be very helpful, so that you can sustain your energy levels throughout the day.
2. Relaxing bath
One of my other top tips is a relaxing bath. If you have sleep issues, a relaxing bath before bed can be part of a bedtime ritual to help you relax and unwind.
What I have found really helps with muscle tension is adding a couple of handfuls of Dr Salts Bath Salts to the water and if you have it, a few drops of lavender essential oils.
3. Watching your favourite film/s, or TV shows.
If you are stuck on the sofa, or in bed with a pain flare and feeling pretty low, one of my favourite ways to manage this is to put on one of my favourite films.
I have a selection of ‘go to’ films for just this situation. I won’t disclose too many, as they are a very varied selection of musical, ‘cheesy’ numbers. One of my all-time favourites is Rocky Horror, I can put it on, not have to think too much about the story-line and enjoy the music! It is guaranteed to lift my spirits 🙂
If you are feeling more mobile during a flare, perhaps you might find seeing a film at the cinema a good way to manage pain. In my experience, being out of the house can be a good distraction from the pain and being at the cinema you don’t have to be too physically active.
I’ve seen two great films recently that I can recommend:
4. Gratitude/ focusing on the good…
Finally, I have found that a gratitude practice is highly effective in managing during a pain flare.
I know that this will probably sound very strange and you may ask how on earth can I be positive, or grateful when the pain is bad and I feel terrible? There is a lot of science to back up that fact that a gratitude practice can literally rewire the brain over time, enabling you to feel more positive.
I will do another blog post on this as it is a really interesting and helpful topic.
It is an idea explained really well by Dr Rick Hanson. He has done a Ted Talk called ‘Hardwiring Happiness’, which you can find at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpuDyGgIeh0
There are loads of ways to develop a gratitude practice.
I have used a gratitude journal where you identify three, or four positive experiences every day and then review them at the end of the week and write a list of your highlights for the week.
I also received this fabulous gift for Christmas:
The Universe Has Your Back affirmation cards by Gabrielle Berstein. The idea with these is that you pick a card from the deck to focus on for your meditation practice. They have lovely quotes on and beautiful artwork. I will be exploring this gift over the coming weeks and months as part of my meditation practice.
Another gratitude practice that I have used with clients is a gratitude jar:
You fill it with written post-it notes about positive things that have happened, however small and on days where you are feeling low you can open it up and read through the messages to remind yourself of the good stuff.
You can decorate the jar however you like, with stickers, ribbons etc…and have fun with getting creative.
One positive that would definitely go in my jar for today would be my new unicorn leggings – I am in love!
I would love to hear your self-management strategies for your pain, or health condition. Please comment, or get in touch!