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Reduce Pain: The Use of Planning

Maybe keeping a schedule is not something that immediately peaks your interest. Still, keeping to a fixed schedule can be one of the best tools against pain. Why is that so, and how can you benefit from this yourself?


No schedule, why is that a problem?

One of the biggest problems that can occur with chronic pain, is that you might do too much in one day, or too little (remember the 75% rule?). These two patterns of behavior can maintain your pain symptoms. By doing too much, you go beyond your limits, keeping your alarm system alert. If you do too little, your alarm system will believe that there was a good reason to cause the pain. And from now on it will create pain even faster...

With a daily schedule you can prevent this problem to a large extent. By thinking in advance about when you want to take a break and which (physical) activities you want to do in a day, you are less likely to fall into this trap. 


Another problem with the lack of a daily schedule is that it can make you depressed and less active. It's often difficult to come up with what you're going to do last-minute, especially if you want to do something with others. By not planning we often choose the easy option, for example watching TV or surfing the internet. These easy options may distract you for a while, but they are not activities you really enjoy or serve a long term goal. 

By planning time for a hobby or a walk, for example, you are more likely to do positive things and be more active. This is good for your body, but also for your mind. In fact, keeping a daily schedule has proven to be effective as a method for dealing with feelings of depression. 


How can you do this yourself? - 5 tips

There are many different ways to plan your day. You can do it strictly on time, or just a bit more loose. Fortunately, there are a number of guidelines on how best to do this, so you can then decide for yourself how you prefer to organize your day!

  1. Preferably plan the day you're going to fill in the evening before. Then you can think about it quietly and go to bed with a good feeling.
  2. Make sure there is a good variety of effort and relaxation. So remember to take time for relaxation. 
  3. Include everything in your planning, such as travel time, or time to change activities. This way you prevent restlessness. 
  4. Be honest in planning. It is fine to plan watching TV, no one is busy all day with just meaningful or useful activities.
  5. Once in a while, don't plan a day! If you are like most people, it is also nice and healthy to let go once in a while. Maybe to wear jogging pants all day, or just because it's just not your day. There's nothing wrong with that.