You have been suffering for a while and are understandably upset that you are still suffering from almost unbearable pain. Here is one set of suggestions to help you begin your journey back to a full life. Check out the following websites, which will help you learn about chronic pain and give you a framework to find your solution to becoming pain free: BACK IN CONTROL: www.back-in-control.com Learn the basic principles of chronic pain – The DOCC starting point It is a complex neurological entity UNLEARN YOUR PAIN: www.unlearnyourpain.com STOMP Swedish Handout (Structuring Your Own Management of Pain): www.swedish.org/services/pain-services/pain-management-guide Start the therapeutic writing exercises, 5-15 minutes, twice per day. Write freely and pay no mind to grammar. Remember to rip up your writing after each session. You can also accomplish the same result by verbally expressing yourself. Write your way out of pain Start the mindfulness exercises, drawing attention to your senses in the present moment. Practice 15 seconds of mindfulness as many times as you can throughout the day. Active meditation Remember to laugh and play. Play Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself and others. Forgiveness We can’t always control the stressors in our lives, but we can control our reaction to these stressors. The eye of the storm Strive to exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 days per week. Find exercise you enjoy, and try to mix it up. Consider joining a group fitness class or gym. Eat a healthy diet full of colorful, whole foods, largely plant-based. Aim to fill you plate with 1/2 fruits and veggies, 1/4 whole grains, and 1/4 lean proteins. Drink water and avoid sugary beverages. Save special occasion foods for special occasions. Shop around the perimeter at the grocery store and avoid the aisles, where there tends to be more processed and packaged food. Don’t shop when you are hungry. Don’t keep unhealthy food in your house. Downsize your plate and bowl size. Plan meals ahead. Eat food and enjoy it! Practice good sleep hygiene habits. Establish a regular sleep schedule–going to sleep at the same time each night helps the body establish a rhythm of sleep and wakefulness. Limit daytime naps. Create a bedtime routine by engaging in relaxing and calming activities before bed. Create a sleep-promoting environment that is quiet, dark, and comfortable. Limit caffeine, especially in the afternoon and evening. Avoid staying in bed for more than 30-45 minutes when unable to sleep. Get up and engage in relaxing activities (e.g. reading) until sleepy. Become your own inspiration These recommendations were created by one of the sports medicine fellows who spent a month with me in clinic. She is a family practitioner who became inspired by watching my patient’s successes. I am saying “my patients” in a tongue in cheek manner. The principles outlined in the DOCC process are not the solution to your pain. The DOCC process just presents a framework that will allow you to find your own solution. People wonder why I am so passionate about all of this. It is because my patients also inspire me every day in clinic. The resiliency of the human spirit is incredible. I am shocked by the depth of misery experienced by most of my patients in suffering from pain and amazed at the capacity to turn it all around. I am honored to be able to contribute my experience to help you begin your journey but you are the ones that can and do regularly pull off almost miraculous turnarounds to a productive and enjoyable life. The one factor that predicts success is your willingness to engage with these concepts, whether you use the DOCC framework or another one. I think her outline is a great starting point although everyone does this differently. You cannot fix yourself. You can only engage in practices that simulate your brain to change and you will be an observer of your own healing.