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Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex
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With April marking Stress Awareness Month, here at Uplands Rehabilitation Centre we believe it is important to consider the different aspects of and contributors to stress amongst the general population.

In the UK, 38% of over 16s experience noticeable pain at least once a day. An often-forgotten part of pain management - which we see a lot here at Uplands - is stress management.

It is true that pain and stress share significant conceptual and physiological overlaps, as pain is one of the most disabling conditions a person can experience, and chronic pain has far reaching implications on a person’s life.

Stress affects us by its effect on the nervous system. It makes us tense and nervous, meaning our muscles become tight, particularly in certain areas of the body - the lower back, mid and upper back, shoulders, neck, head, forehead and jaw are the most common areas. Over time, these chronically tense muscles can ache and spasm, meaning the persistent stress that results from chronic pain can cause chronic muscle tension, thereby leading to more pain.

Here, we outline some of the natural measures you can work into your daily routine that may help manage pain and the resulting stress:

 

Relaxation exercises

Calming your mind lowers the amount of stress hormones in your blood. It relaxes your muscles and elevates your sense of well-being. Using them regularly can lead to long-term changes in your body to counteract the harmful effects of stress.

It is important to choose whatever relaxes you, like music, prayer, gardening, going for a walk, or talking with a friend on the phone. Here are some other techniques you can try:

  • Guided imagery - Breathing slowly and deeply. For example, imagine a tranquil scene in which you feel comfortable, safe and relaxed. Include colours, sounds, smells and your feelings. Do this for five to 10 minutes each day.
  • Self-talk - Change how you think about your pain and yourself. For example, change "Pain prevents me from keeping house the way I used to so I'm a failure" to "No one will die if the house isn't perfect. I can get a lot done by breaking down tasks into baby steps."
  • Mindfulness meditation - Sit or lie quietly and notice your breathing without controlling it. If pain or thoughts interfere, simply notice them without trying to push them away. Think of them as a cloud passing over; then return to observing your breath. Do this for about 20 minutes.

 

Uplands Pain Management Service Plan

With the pain management service plan, our multidisciplinary approach allows for you to focus on your pain within the context of your whole routine.

You will have the ability to review how everything from sleep and personal care to productivity activities impacts on your own pain and, with support regarding your medication, exercise and understanding of your pain behaviours, you can develop your own bespoke pain management programme which is transferable to your home and social environments.

This plan lasts four weeks and will include:

• A full multidisciplinary assessment
• Development and implementation of a bespoke pain management plan
• Twice weekly input from relevant therapies
• Full training to carers and caregivers prior to discharge regarding communication
• The opportunity for 24- or 48-hour home leave to enable carers/ caregivers to practice the pain management plan within the home environment
• Referral to relevant statutory community services and relevant charitable organisations that can provide further support on departure

 

Eating a healthy diet

A well-balanced diet is important in many ways for pain management as this aids your digestive process. By reducing heart disease risk, keeping your weight under control and improving your blood sugar levels, this in turn improves your stress levels.

To eat a low-fat, low-sodium diet, choose from these: fresh fruits and vegetables; cooked dried beans and peas; whole-grain breads and cereals; low-fat cheese, milk, and yogurt; and lean meats.

Here at Uplands, we have a fully equipped kitchen and our fully trained and highly skilled cooks prepare fresh home cooked meals ensuring a balanced and varied diet. Residents who have additional dietary requirements such as diabetes or low sodium can have meals prepared to their individual requirements. To have a look at the food we offer here at Uplands, Follow this link: https://uplandscare.co.uk/about/gallery

 

Join a support group

Meeting others living with chronic pain who may understand what you're going through encourages you to feel less alone. You will also benefit from their wisdom in coping with this pain.

You could also consider meeting with a mental health professional. Anyone can develop depression and lower mood if they are living with chronic pain and the stress that comes with this. Reaching out for counselling can help you learn to cope better and help you avoid negative thoughts that make this pain worse - so you have a healthier mental attitude.

For more information on the conditions we treat at Uplands and services we offer, or to book an appointment with us, visit our website: https://uplandscare.co.uk/contact/contact-us, call us at 01702 880087 or email us at info@uplandscarecentre.com.