Maintaining Healthy Relationships When a Family Member is in Pain
Maintaining Healthy Relationships When a Family Member is in PainOctober 29th, 2017 by Scott McCutchan
For those who are living with someone who has chronic pain, the challenges can seem insurmountable. As the individual with chronic pain and their family begin to face the reality of living with a chronic pain condition, family and friends want to do all they can to help the individual cope.
After a while however, what started as loving care and support often turns into a major chore, and the helper becomes angry and resentful of the person living with chronic pain. Just as many people who are living with chronic pain become isolated and depressed, many helpers also experience this problem. In order to prevent this from happening, it is important that family members understand and practice the Whole Person Approach, and that the helper maintains a focus on compassion and empathy.
Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual; The Whole Person Approach
The ultimate goal of effective healthcare and well-being is to increase your quality of life on all levels. With that being said, living with chronic pain or helping someone in chronic pain can impact a person biologically (physically), psychologically, socially, and spiritually; therefore the solution must address all of these areas. The key here is ensuring that the needs are being met in these areas for everyone in the family.
– Biological: Maintaining the physical needs of one’s self. This includes proper diet/nutrition, sleep hygiene, exercise, activity pacing, and stress management. Additionally, the individual with chronic pain should be eliminating or reducing intake of substances causing inflammation such as nicotine, caffeine and sugars.
– Psychological: Maintaining the psychological needs of one’s self. Some examples of this include managing self-defeating defense mechanisms (denial), enhancing positive thinking and feeling management plans, participation in counseling, and maintaining a daily balanced structure.
– Social: It is imperative to maintain connectedness with extended family, friends, and social organizations, and also to utilize healthy communication skills. From getting coffee with friends to attending a wedding, family members should encourage one another to participate in social engagements. Practicing healthy communication includes eliminating enabling behaviors, setting appropriate limits and boundaries, and developing healthy support systems.
– Spirituality: Practicing and nurturing the relationship with one’s higher power and enhancing Spiritual Values, Principles and Practices. This may include activities such as prayer, meditation, finding peace in nature, working the steps if in a 12-Step Program (e.g. Chronic Pain Anonymous), and participation in spiritual practices.
When a family member is feeling strained, exhausted, or defeated, it is likely that their needs are not being met in one or more of these areas. People who are willing to develop and practice a self-care plan have a much better chance of obtaining freedom from suffering.
Compassion and Empathy
It can be difficult for someone who has never experienced chronic pain to understand just how devastating it can be. Do your best to see the situation from the pain patient’s perspective, and imagining the pain and emotions the person may be experiencing as your own. It may be helpful to ask the person “what do you need right now” so they may identify an area of the whole (bio-psycho-social-spiritual) that is being neglected.
Instilling Hope and Healing
Whether you are struggling with chronic pain, looking to become free from opioid dependence or addiction, or looking to repair relationships strained by a chronic condition, it is important to seek help when possible from qualified professionals. There is hope, and healing on all levels is possible!
Scott McCutchan is a clinical outreach associate at A Healing Place – The Estates. Learn about their program by clicking Here