Week 1 – An Introduction
You will be introduced to a biological and scientific understanding of pain, the brain, and body. You will explore the meaning and usefulness of acceptance as a way of letting go of the struggle with pain, freeing up your valuable personal resources. You will identify your values and learn to set new goals consistent with the things you value most. You will also be introduced to an attention training mindfulness exercise specific to pain that will be practised each week.
Week 2 – Pacing and Breathing
You will learn how to use ‘pacing’ (one of the most effect ways to manage chronic pain). You will also be introduced to the scientific basis and practise of ‘coherent breathing’ a valuable technique for relaxation and desensitisation of the nervous system.
Week 3 – Anxiety and Worry
You will learn to identify and manage unhelpful thinking patterns that feed anxiety, such as ‘catastrophising’. You will explore the different types of worry and how to address each type effectively, thus reducing problem levels of anxiety.
Week 4 – Low Mood
You will learn to identify and manage the unhelpful thinking patterns that maintain low mood and depression. You will be introduced to a mindfulness technique to address the unhelpful thoughts that typically come with living with chronic pain, e.g. “I’m useless”, “I’m a burden”. You will be able to diminish the distress that these thoughts invite.
Week 5 – Communication
The people around us can be an enormous resource. We are a social species by nature. You will explore the importance of communication, focussing on how you can effectively communicate your needs with family, friends, and health professionals. You will learn different communication styles and methods of assertive talk that will help you, get your needs met, and negotiate the adjustments that need to be made to help you live well with chronic pain.
Week 6 – Sleep and bringing it all together
You will learn many useful strategies to improve the quality of your sleep. You will develop a plan to manage the inevitable, but hopefully, much reduced, frequency of flare-ups. You will reflect upon the many strategies and techniques you have learned over the previous six weeks and consider how you will maintain the useful adjustments that you have already started to make.