Get a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle, from top to bottom On the left side, write down what you do on a typical day, including how much you walk, lie down, and sit; what you eat; the chores you do around the house; and when you sleep. Are the ways you spend your time and energy in line with your goals—your vision of life on the other side of the bridge?
Look carefully at your daily schedule. Are there time periods or tasks you can change? Are there minutes here and there you can devote to exercise, quieting your mind, interacting with others, helping.
Others, or otherwise healing your “pain brain? ?
Now create another daily schedule, on the right side of the paper, one that will better help you reach your goals and attain your core values. You don’t have to pack your day full of healing activities; if you just get a few in, that’s a great start.
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For example, the new schedule might include time for exercise, time to take breaks from the computer, time for meditation and prayer, and time to do something for others. Just by thinking through these changes, you’ll be on your way to a better life.
I often tell my patients that the world we live in is like a casino. What do you see when you first enter? Lots of bright lights with constant noise and stimulation, but no doors or windows. Why? Because that is how they get your money; the sensory overload keeps you from leaving. Casinos don’t want you to have a focus or a direction. The more overwhelmed you are by blinking lights and ringing bells, the more likely you are to keep on gambling without thinking about your losses.
Living in our modern society can be very much like being trapped in a casino. We are bombarded by stimulation and sensory overload from our machines and gadgets, distracting us with calls, texts, e-mails, advertisements, videos, shows, messages—you name it. It’s become easier and easier to stop focusing on our goals and lose our way. But instead of losing money in a slot machine, we lose something much more valuable: time. And for chronic pain patients, this is truly a loss because time is a critical element in remodeling and reshaping the “pain brain” and revitalizing the “pain body. ? Pain relief requires structure, discipline, and regularity. It requires a plan. If you just allow life to sweep you along, you probably won’t find the time to address all of the elements of a successful pain management program So make time for quiet and stillness in your life, time when you can filter out all the noise and keep yourself centered on what is important. Then devise a structure that you can live with and begin your journey across the bridge. You can do it! But it will take time, focus, and persistence.
In the words of Steve Jobs, “Time is the most precious resource we all have. ? Using your time wisely will give you the power to help yourself and help others.