A University of Michigan researcher told the 8th Annual Women in Pain Conference that positive language and emotions can have a real effect on chronic pain patients.
Afton Hassett, Ph.D. was speaking on the topic: Resilience in the Face of Pain to about 100 persons attending in Los Angeles and a world-wide audience on the internet.
She said that 30% of patients that I’ve studied are resilient. She understands why that number isn’t higher.
“Chronic pain patients do what they have to do in order to survive,” she said. “They have to go to work, pay the bills, and take care of their families.”
And one important thing gets lost, she said and that is the “joy” in life.
She outlined a number of things that she recommends chronic pain patients can do to enhance resilience.
- Create a social support round robin: More social interaction and engaging with friends and even people you don’t know is a key step.
- Keep a Gratitude Diary: She suggests that your write down three things you are grateful for each day, and make sure there are three different things each day. “You start to appreciate everything from your family to sunshine.”
- Savor a Beautiful Day: Hassett says that chronic pain patients should set aside a block of time each day for their own pleasures. “It helps you focus on what you have.”
- Practice Intentional Kindness: Do one kind thing a day for yourself, a stranger and someone you know.
- Write 3 Good Things Every Day: Hassett said that concentrating not only the fact good things happened buy Why They Happened can promote resilience.
The focus of this year’s Women in Pain Conference was on the topic of resilience. It was sponsored by the non-profit For Grace which for a decade has championed the fight for better diagnosis and treatment of chronic pain in women.
The whole idea of resilience is receiving a lot of attention in research these days.
Stanford’s Drew Sturgeon, Ph.D, is conducting a study on the topic of resilience. (He has surveyed some readers of the National Pain Report). He is asking why do some people who suffer from chronic pain are able to stay productive while others are not? His study is being reviewed and should be ready for public discussion in the next few months.
He was also enthusiastic about the work of the conference.
“There’s no doubt we need more education about pain treatment in general, and the idea that so many women go to their doctors with genuine pain complaints and aren’t taken seriously is troubling- alliance with one’s healthcare provider is a valuable part of the treatment process,” he said.
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