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My clients tell me that they want to get back to moving, walking, and ________you fill in the blank.
I say GREAT! Let’s do it.
However they feel stuck and worried because when they do certain movements, or activities their pain increases.
One way we work together is by designing a plan for that certain activity or movement, we call it pacing and graded exposure.
You can try this by finding your baseline. This is the amount of activity you can do and know that you won’t have a setback. A setback is an increase in your pain that leaves you feeling angry, desperate, and afraid to move.
Try asking yourself this question: How long can I ______ before I have a setback? Fill in the blank with the activity or movement you want to do more of.
Here is an example:
How long can I stand and wash the dishes before I have a setback?
I can stand and wash the dishes for 30 minutes but I will pay for it the next day.
Can I stand and wash the dishes for 20 minutes without a setback?
No, I will still pay for it.
Can I stand and wash the dishes for 15 minutes?
I don’t think so, especially really dirty pots and pans.
10 minutes washing dishes, no pots/pans
5 minutes washing dishes, no pots/pans
So for standing and washing dishes your baseline would be 5 minutes with no pots/pans. You can use this process for each activity you want to add back in (graded exposure) and/or do more of (pacing).
** Remember talking to a family member, going out to a party, or going to a school function are all activities too.
Once you have your baseline, now it’s time to plan out your progression.
I help my clients plan out each week their progression without exceeding the limit until they reach their goal. Each week is planned ahead of time so there is no temptation to push on and break your commitment to yourselves.
This is important because many of my clients, myself included, would like to do more than was planned because we were feeling great. You know what I mean right, “I will just do 10 more minutes, I am feeling awesome!”…oops…BUSTED! Another setback! We learned the hard way. We found ourselves back in the Boom-Bust cycle! This left me feeling angry, frustrated, defeated, and annoyed.
This Boom-Bust cycle is a trap and will keep you stuck. This is why patience, persistence, courage, and commitment are required. I think trust is important too! I had to trust that by doing a little each week, I would get to where I wanted to be. It worked for me and I don’t see why it can’t work for you. Be kind to yourself and take one step at a time.
With ongoing pain, our alarm system becomes sensitive so it can be difficult to completely avoid a setback during this process. However, if you do have setback or ( you may call it a flare-up) DON’T beat yourself up. This setback is your nervous system protecting you and the best thing you can do during this time is be kind to yourself. Remember what you have learned about pain, don’t give up on yourself, and stay persistent. This is not a quick fix for the short-term this is THE quick fix for the long-term.
This is not simple though it may sound that way, it will be difficult at times. Find yourself a great support system, a positive support group, or someone who can cheer you on or coach you on your journey. Please reach out, that’s why I am here. Believe in yourself! You can do this!!
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A huge thank you to Julie for writing this Guest Blog post – and of course, for being my very first Guest Blogger.
If you’d like to write a Guest Blog for Notebooks and Glasses, please visit my Work with Me page and get in touch.
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