So today is not a good day for me pain wise. We had icy roads, so the drive in started out stressful. My job is always high stress, but it was a little bit worse today, and then by the time I was driving home, my pain level was getting on the higher side. Don’t get me wrong, I always have pain, its just a matter of how intense or strong it is at any given time that determines what the rest of my day (and possibly my next few days) look like. Because my pain level was increasing, I knew I would have to spend most of the night just relaxing and trying to build up strength for another grueling day at the office and another difficult drive in (since it is supposed to snow a ton tonight). As I have been sitting here in pain, I was thinking about the things that I could do during the day to make my pain less intense later in the day, and I realized that today I did not do as good of a job of taking multiple “brain breaks” throughout my day. So, I want to share with all of you what I usually do to relax, even just a bit, during my day to try and keep worse pain at bay.
First of all, Why is it that we need to relax, not just at the end of the day, but throughout the day? As someone with pain, I have found that the more time I take to disengage from whatever is causing my stress, and step back, the better I do at keeping my pain level under control. I also tend to have better concentration and get less stressed overall if I take time throughout my day. I try to use a “mini-break” or “brain-break” method to accomplish this. When I get to work, I get myself situated, and then I set a 30 minute timer. Every 30 minutes when it goes off, if I am not on the phone, I turn my phone off for a second, get up from my chair and stretch. If I am on the phone or right in the middle of something, I take two minutes to finish up or come to a good stopping place and then I take my mini “brain break.” This doesn’t mean that I am leaving my desk, but I try not to look at my computer screen just for 30 seconds or so, I stretch my body out, touch my toes, and try to clear my mind. I think about something fun or good, or I say a quick prayer. Usually I will repeat the Lord’s Prayer to myself if I am having difficulty clearing my thoughts. This brings me back to a good frame of mind. Now, if I was mad at the person on the phone, or having a hard time dealing with an e-mail response, or just bogged down by the sheer amount of work I need to finish, I can get back to it with a better attitude and hopefully more clarity as to what I actually need to do. The stretching also helps make me get out of whatever position I had been in for too long and helps me change my focus to something positive. Now that I have taken my mini break, I am ready to get back to work and will have better concentration to do so. I reset my timer and go back to what I was doing.
So, give it a try and let me know what you think. This sort of many mini breaks technique works in many other settings too. All you need is some sort of timer to be a reminder to take those breaks. What do you do to help you relax throughout the day? How do you integrate relaxation into your busy schedule?