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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 September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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