Spoonie Store

Chronic Pain Life has opened an Etsy shop, Spoonie Store, selling Spoonie jewellery and other items. So far there are a variety of spoonie earrings for sale. Buy and wear these earrings if you need some extra spoons and at the same time teach people about the Spoon Theory!  The first 50 orders will also receive a  FREE “Official Spoonie Card with self-laminating sleeve. Buy earrings for your spoonie friends and for yourself!

Check the store regularly as many other items are being created and will be added soon.

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Invisible Fight Photo Gallery

#myinvisiblefight
“I struggle with more than just ‪#‎narcolepsy‬ — but this is a very visible reminder of ‪#‎myinvisiblefight‬” – Gina

 

I have received some really powerful photos from people showing their #invisiblefight with illness and/or pain. Check out the gallery of images so far! You still have time to submit a photo in order to be entered in a draw for a pair of Spoonie Earrings in honor of Invisible Illness Awareness Week.

*Read submission details here.

What is your Invisible Fight? Share a photo and win a pair of Spoonie Earrings!

The #myinvisiblefight Photo Campaign has been launched by Invisible Illness Awareness Week and since Chronic Pain Life is all about promoting the therapeutic value of photography, for individuals living with pain/illness, we have been asked to help promote the campaign! So we are going to showcase a photo gallery on our website of your #myinvisiblefight photos. Submit your photo to be included in our online photo gallery and you will have a chance to win a pair of Spoonie Earrings!

#myinvisiblefight3 WAYS TO ENTER THE DRAW:
1.  Join the Chronic Pain Life Facebook group and post a photo of your “Invisible Fight”. Be sure to tag it #myinvisiblefight.
OR
2.  Post a photo of your “Invisible Fight” on Instagram, tag me @chronicpainlife and hashtag #myinvisiblefight.
OR
3.  Email me a photo at info@chronicpainlife.com.


*Winner will be randomly selected on the last day of Invisible Illness Awareness Week – October 4, 2015.

*Your name will be kept confidential.
*By entering the contest you permit Chronic Pain Life to display your photo on our gallery page and use it for future purposes. Your name will be kept confidential unless otherwise requested. 

Adult Coloring for Chronic Pain or Illness

 

IMG_1021Adult coloring is all the rage right now. People living with pain should definitely explore this new fad as coloring can provide incredible relaxation and allow one to temporarily forget about physical pain.

Not to mention that scientists have found that coloring actually quiets the part of the brain, the amygdala, that causes stress and is often activated when we are distressed by our pain.

A recent Huffington Post article stated that the famous psychologist, Carl Jung believed that the coloring of mandalas could be used as a relaxation technique. I personally find mandalas to be the most calm-inducing items to color as the patterns are repetitive and require concentration. I get so focussed I literally am completely in the moment and don’t worry about my pain or anything else. Here is a photo of two manadult coloring bookdalas that I recently colored from the Just Add Color Mandalas Adult Coloring Book. I used two types of markers,
Stabilo Point 88 Pen Sets rollerset set of 25 and Stabilo Point 88 Pen Sets rollerset set of 25. These types of extra fine-tipped pens are required, especially if you plan on coloring the detailed drawings in the most popular adult coloring book right now, The Secret Garden.

secret_garden_roll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to see if coloring should be added to your “pain toolkit”, you can download two free beautiful coloring pages, “Today is Going to Be Awesome” and a gorgeous owl.

Creative-Coloring-Inspirations-PrintableNature-Mandalas-printable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For people with chronic pain or illness, the great thing about adult coloring is that it can be done just about anywhere. You can color laying down, standing up or sitting. You can be in bed, at a desk, in the waiting room of your doctor’s office or my favourite place to colour, at the beach.

Is coloring going to heal your pain or illness vanish…no, but at least for brief periods of time you can hopefully forget about your health and feel a sense of peace and calm…a state of mind that is a welcome respite from the stress of living with chronic pain/illness.

Have you found coloring to be helpful when living with chronic pain or illness? If so, I would love to hear about your experience!


 

Chronic Pain/Illness Photography Project Follow-Up

“Know This…You’re not alone and you’re more than your pain.” – Participant, Janice Feinstein

Chronic Pain Life’s online 21-Day Chronic Pain/Illness Photography Project recently completed. The participants’ photographs and accompanying explanations were all incredibly impactful, insightful and powerful. The most popular of the project’s daily photo prompts were: Goals, Identity, Know This, Who I Was and Acceptance.

Day after day as participants explored and shared their experiences of pain/illness, through taking and sharing photos as well as viewing and commenting on other members’ photos, a sense of community was established. The online group space remains open indefinitely so that members can continue to connect and support one another through the sharing of photographs related to their pain/illness.

“I’ve come to love this group of women and men who share the same burden in life that I do. This group has changed my life, my marriage and my entire outlook on my illness. Your project saved me in a way I can never repay. I’m forever grateful to you for it.”
-Participant

chronic pain therapeutic photography
“I used the door and the half of me because one part of me puts on a good show for all to see but behind that door is pain non stop, worry, depression, stress, wonder, and the one with the eye means lots of people don’t see or understand at all. And the last one is the real whole healthy me.”

Several members expressed how photography provided a safe and less vulnerable way to explore and share their feelings about their pain/illness. As most of the participants do not regularly practice photography, most were surprised at how much insight, clarity and healing could take place through taking and analyzing photos.

“I had not used any visual means to express anything I felt about my illness/pain before this project. It gave me a way of saying things […] and helped me see myself more clearly.” –Participant

The success of the project validated my belief in the therapeutic value of photography for people who live with chronic pain/illness. Chronic Pain Life will continue to offer a variety of photography-related projects related to pain/illness. To learn more about these projects and therapeutic photography, join the Chronic Pain Life Facebook group and sign up for blog updates.

You can view more photos from the project on the Participant’s Photography page of the Chronic Pain Life website.

Insight Meditation App – Chronic Pain & Illness Group

Insight meditation appRecently I created a “Chronic Pain & Illness Meditation” group on the free “Insight Guided Meditations” app. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Insight app, it is a well-respected and popular meditation app. I literally give this app the credit for helping me to become a dedicated daily meditator. The app has a meditation timer as well as numerous guided meditations, including many body scans, which are great for people living with chronic pain/illness.

In the group we discuss meditation resources and experiences as they relate to chronic pain and/or illness. It would be wonderful to have you join the the group, whether you are just thinking about trying meditation or if you are a seasoned meditator.

Steps to Joining the Group:

  1. Download the app if you don’t have it already:
    Link to Insight Guided Meditations app for iPhone
    Link to Insight Guided Meditations app for Android 
  2. Once you have downloaded the app, click on the “Groups” tab.
  3. Scroll to the very bottom of the page click on the “Search” icon.
  4. Type “chronic pain” and the group will pop up.
  5. Click on “Request an Invitation”.

Yay, you are now part of an awesome pain/illness meditation community!

Join the 21-Day Chronic Pain/Illness Photo Project

chronic pain photo projectI am hosting a 21-Day Chronic Pain/Illness Photo Project in a closed Facebook group starting Monday, April 27, 2015. Each day there will be a photo prompt related to chronic pain/illness. Participate as much or as little as you would like. No experience necessary. Just use your phone-camera, snap away and share in the group.

If you are interested in joining the project click on this link.

Follow Chronic Pain Life on Instagram – @chronicpainlife
Hashtag your chronic pain photos with #chronicpaininfocus.

Meditating has drastically improved how I am able to handle Chronic Pain

meditation for chronic painI posted back in September that I had completed a 21-day meditation challenge. Now I can proudly, and more importantly, gratefully, say I have completed a solid 6-months of daily meditation practice.

I continue to reap the benefits of using meditation to deal with the challenges of chronic pain. The challenge is to put into words how exactly meditation has specifically helped me manage my daily pain. What I do know is I have a greater sense of calmness, increased gratitude, and I have developed the ability to not panic when I have a flare-up. I have learnt how to stay in the moment, to feel my body as it is and accept it. These abilities grew gradually with time.

I don’t find that meditation has in any way reduced my pain but it has become the most effective tool I have ever used to cope with the challenges of living with pain. By this I mean that meditation has significantly diminished, if not prevented, the feelings of anxiety, panic, depression, and fear that in the past would overcome me every time I had a flare-up.

I have to clarify though, that this took time. I think around the 3-month mark is when I really recognized the difference in myself. The shift was somewhat subtle but at the same time powerful beyond measure. Now that I have been meditating for over 6 months I can’t imagine my life without this practice.

Another benefit of regular mediation is the spillover into the other aspects of my life. Meditation is assisting me in dealing with relationship, financial, and many other life issues. I have learnt how to stay calm, grounded and connected to reality and the moment, not to the stories that swirl in my head and attempt to control my thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Back to meditation and pain…I did find that specific approaches to my practice made me ‘successful’. I have found that regular body scan meditations are the most beneficial type of meditation. I do one every night before I go to sleep. I have also personally experienced, and recently read research, that the regular use of the same guided meditations is more beneficial than flitting from one to another meditation to another.

For instance, In the past I would get bored of guided meditations and want to listen to a different one each time I meditated. Over the past 6 months I took a different approach, I downloaded the Insight Timer app (a highly recommended meditation app which has 87 guided meditations and/or a meditation timer). I tried out many of the meditations and then selected approximately 8 that I really enjoyed. I then began to use these regularly.

The other thing I like about the Insight app is you get rewards!!! Yes, STAR rewards just like in elementary school. I have to tell you, you have no idea how many times the lure of a star on my meditation profile ensured I meditated every day! Hey, whatever it takes! The app also keeps a tally of how many minutes you have meditated, and provides a variety of charts showing your meditation practice. More recently I have joined the groups that are in the app and have connected with others who are using meditation for dealing with chronic pain and illness.

I know many of you have likely read that mindfulness meditation is a great resource for dealing with chronic pain and like me you probably really struggled with sticking to it. I am here to say give it another go, keep trying, I know if you stick with it you will experience incredible benefits. Maybe you are like me and have stuck with it and appreciate all it offers you, I would love to hear about your experience. Maybe you have even been meditating for years and can offer myself and other readers more insight and knowledge about using meditation for the management of chronic pain/illness. I would love to hear from you too.

What I do know is I will be continuing my practice and sharing my experiences here on my blog. On that note, it is time for my nightly body scan meditation 🙂

What helped me succeed at my 21-day Meditation Challenge

meditation challengeAs of today I completed my 21-day meditation challenge and I succeeded! Honestly a huge part of me didn’t think I would, due to how many times I have attempted to maintain a regular meditation practice and not followed through. I think the 6-step approach that I laid out in my blog post 21 days ago really assisted me in successfully meditating for the past 21 days. Below I will comment on how I found each step to be helpful or how I amended it to be so.

1) Make a public commitment to meditating
I wrote a blog post about my meditation challenge which made me feel super accountable. I suppose I could have not written a follow-up post but I would have felt like I failed at meditating and blogging!

2) Make a daily checklist or write daily meditation time on a calendar
I printed a checklist and posted it on my fridge. I found that this was the BEST type of reminder since I go to my fridge multiple times a day. In the past I have put a “meditation” daily notation in my online calendar but I found it is too easy to gloss over. A checklist cannot be so easily ignored as that empty box beckons to be filled. For a list-maker, type-A personality like me it is very satisfying to be able to check an item off a list.

3) Create reminders on my phone
I pretty much forgot all about this step. I did initially add a reminder to my phone but I dismissed it the first time it went off and I never did receive another reminder again. I still think creating a phone reminder could be a valuable idea for helping to ensure regular meditation practice.

4) Make a list of meditation resources for quick reference
I referred to my list of meditation resources and made a point of utilizing a variety of them so that I wouldn’t get bored. What I found was that I really do love using the meditation apps on my phone because no matter where I am I have my phone by my side and it was easy to just click on the app and select a meditation. I actually created an app “Meditation” folder and put it on the home screen of my iPhone so that I would see it throughout the day. I can’t tell you how many times I ended up meditating because I glanced at this folder when checking my emails.

In addition to the ease of using apps, I really like how some of the meditation apps, such as Insight Timer, keep track of your progress which I found REALLY encouraging and motivating.

As for types of meditations, I really found “body scan” meditations really helpful for when I was feeling pain and even when I wasn’t. I am slowly learning to just “be present” with my pain through the use of these types of meditations.

5) Pick a realistic time of day to meditate each day as well as a realistic length of time
I originally said that I would meditate after eating breakfast. That happened exactly ONE time! I quickly realized that upon waking up I enjoy activating and stimulating my brain (ie. reading the news) not meditating. To ensure success I knew I had to choose a different time so I started meditating once I got into bed at night. The only problem with this time I realized what that I often fell asleep during the meditation. So I revised my goal time to the broad period of “after dinner but before bed”. This ended up being the most successful goal. The result has been that I have ended up meditating at all times of the day with evening being the most common time.

As for length of meditation, I have been meditating between 5 and 45 mins. per day. My original goal was 10 minutes per day so I am happy with what I have been managing to do. Some days are less than 10 mins but others are much longer. I would say that overall I probably average 15 mins. per day. I often find that I start with a short guided meditation but I enjoy it so much that I do another longer one right after the first.

6) Report back to someone

I told my therapist about my 21-day meditation commitment. I provided her with an update after one week of meditating and told her how I was going to amend my practice to be even more successful. I am to report back to her next week again. I think having a specific person to check in with REALLY increased the feeling of accountability.

NOW WHAT?!:

Overall I am really, really happy and proud of myself but I don’t want it to end here. I want to ensure that I keep meditating every day. I also want to expand my meditation practice to include more specific chronic pain resources. So here are my next steps:

*I am going to keep doing all the steps in my 6-step process. I think it would be too easy for my practice to wane if I am not checking off a checklist, reporting back to my therapist, etc.

*I am going to incorporate more specific “chronic pain” meditations such as those by Jon Kabat Zinn and Peter A. Levine, some of which are listed on my website’s Meditation page.

*I am going to do more healing visualization guided meditations. I will try and see if there are any guided visualization apps for iPhone.

*I will report back here with another blog post!!!

I am always looking for more resources, inspiration, and suggestions so I would love to hear from you! Happy meditating!