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5 Holistic Pain Relief Therapies for Palliative Care Patients

5 Holistic Pain Relief Therapies for Palliative Care Patients

Palliative care is care that provides pain relief, and is used with curative measures, but does not act towards a cure on its own. In other words, it helps make patients more comfortable as they struggle against serious illnesses.

Best practice in medicine suggests that patients undergoing palliative care benefit most from a holistic approach. Holistic approaches include physical, psychological, and spiritual comfort.

As a result, therapies that help patients can be provided not only by doctors and nurses but also by counselors, therapists, massage therapists, or even family and friends of the patient. These actors can provide complementary pain relief therapies, which are able to help reduce pain and improve quality of life, and support the patient as a whole.

1. Music Therapy

Music therapists use music to help patients advance their health goals. Some therapists prescribe this therapy for those looking to relieve pain.

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Several studies have shown that listening to music can improve patients’ quality of life. Participants in these studies also showed small physical improvements, like improved respiratory rates, blood pressure, or heart rate.

2. Massage Therapy

Massage has health benefits for everyone. But, it is particularly useful for providing pain relief to palliative care patients.

Massage therapists who work with palliative care patients are trained to relieve pain through light touches rather than deep tissue work. The therapy works by providing comfort and soothing anxiety to patients. It can also help patients who have kinks and knots that come with lying down for most of the day.

Massage therapy is one of the most common complementary therapies. But, it should always be performed by therapists who are knowledgeable about working with these patients. Massage can have contraindications with certain pharmacological therapies. Understanding the patient’s other course of treatment is essential for using massage to heal, not hurt.

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3. Pet Therapy

Animal therapy is frequently used in hospital settings to improve quality of life, and provide pain relief. Several studies show that spending time with a cuddly animal can lower your blood pressure, stabilize your heart rate, and reduce anxiety. Additionally, relationships between therapy animals and patients can provide pain relief with a simple cuddle.

Although the benefits of pet therapy are only in the early stages of being understood, it is clear that human-animal interactions help patients undergoing care feel less isolated.

4. Therapeutic Touch

Therapeutic Touch is a practice taught to specialists and many nurses. It is another a way of using your hands to help patients deal with their pain or heal from their disease.

Therapeutic Touch is different to other touch therapies like massage therapy. The basic premise is that humans are open energy systems. This system is constantly interacting with itself, other people, and the environment.

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Because illness creates imbalances in this energy, patients need to re-balance their energy to feel relief.

Therapeutic Touch helps do this by using healing energy to interact with a patient’s energy. The practitioner then direct the energy to create stir up relief from symptoms like pain.

5. Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana has been used to provide pain relief and relieve symptoms of disease from thousands of years. As early as 1854, the US Dispensary listed that the plant offered therapeutic effects on patients, and could even relieve inflammation, spasms, and nausea. Some of the most recent standardized controls have found that it has modest but positive effects on helping people with cancer, HIV, capsaicin, MS, and intraocular pressure relive their pain.

Medicinal marijuana is only available for patients residing in a few states via dispensaries. But, this is likely to change soon.

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The Institute of Medicine, the American College of Physicians, and the American Medical Association are all in favor of more research dedicated to understanding exactly how it affects patients, and what kind of relief it may bring.

Palliative care is an individualized form of care, and the experience is different for everyone. Creating the holistic approach to this kind of care requires nurturing the patient’s body, mind, and spirit. Pharmacological treatments cannot due this alone.

These 5 alternative therapies have the ability to work in tandem with a patient’s care plan to help relieve pain, and boost their quality of life while undergoing treatment.

Featured photo credit: WRAMTAS via wramtas.org

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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