Wellbeing Wednesday 10th August 2022

Jane Fowler – Head of Customer Support Services

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s wellbeing update.  The sun is shining! And that’s a good thing for my wellbeing and my garden, (I found a beautiful slow worm sunbathing on the track yesterday evening).

Thank you for your feedback from last week’s WBW.  The Cat feature was obviously very popular!  We will also be featuring the benefits of living with Dogs in the coming weeks for those of you who are not Cat lovers – so any photos of your Dogs or you and your Dogs would be great to see! And don’t forget to tell us about your Cycling to work experiences – or any other Cycling you are doing around Argyll and Bute.

We’ve got information this week on pain management and on control.  Many of us live with various levels of chronic pain, which affects how we live our lives in different ways.  There is some practical advice and information here to guide you and any of your friends or relatives about pain management.

We also have a little practical tool for you on control and how you can improve your mental wellbeing by identifying what is in your control and what is not. This can help with feelings of being overwhelmed and to recognise what is your responsibility and what is other people’s. We hope this is helpful – let us know how you get on with it.

The next reading instalment – I am still in Siberia with Dervla Murphy – it’s not a long book, but with spending as much time as possible outside, progress is a little slower than I anticipated. And when I told my folks about it, my dad gave me ‘Vagabonding at Fifty’ first published in 1928 by Helen Calista Wilson and Elsie Reed Mitchell – so that should be interesting! It has an old, hand drawn map at the beginning – right up my street!

See you next week.

Living with pain

What is pain?

Pain is a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli. The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage.”

In medical diagnosis, pain is regarded as a symptom of an underlying condition. Pain motivates the individual to withdraw from damaging situations, to protect a damaged body part while it heals, and to avoid similar experiences in the future.

Most pain resolves once the stimulus is removed and the body has healed, but it may persist despite removal of the stimulus and apparent healing of the body. Sometimes pain arises in the absence of any detectable stimulus, damage or disease

Long-term pain has many causes, such as arthritis, back problems, an old injury, illness or nerve damage. 

If you have been struggling with pain for more than 12 weeks you should contact your GP in the first instance to help identify the underlying causes of the pain.

GP Advice

Your GP will discuss your pain history and identify where the pain is coming from, usually via a physical examination.  They may also check for any signs of illness that could be causing your pain or making it worse and ask you how your pain is affecting your life.

The GP may suggest trying some painkillers for short-term pain relief. However, painkillers are generally not considered a primary way to manage long-term pain.

If appropriate, the GP may suggest ways for you to stay active, which can help ease pain and improve your general wellbeing.

You may also be referred for complementary therapy to see if that helps with the pain.

You should be offered advice on how to better manage your pain on a day-to-day basis, such as by using self-help techniques.

What support is available for people living with pain?

Pain Clinics

People with chronic pain may be able to attend a specialist Pain Clinic for assessment and possible pain management, together with advice on living a fuller life in spite of pain.

Pain Clinics vary in the treatments offered and not all hospitals may have a specific pain clinic. Sometimes a Consultant with an interest in pain will prescribe drugs or give injections to try to control pain. Other clinics have teams of doctors, psychologists, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and others. Your GP can refer you to a Pain Clinic.

Pain Management Programmes

A Pain Management Programme (PMP) is a psychologically-based rehabilitative treatment for people with chronic pain which remains unresolved by other treatments currently available. It is delivered in a group setting by an interdisciplinary team of experienced health care professionals working closely with patients.

Some Pain Centres may run Pain Management Programmes that aim to teach a group of patients with similar problems about pain, how best to cope with it and how to live a more active life, others may offer acupuncture and other complementary therapies.

For the majority of people, attending a Pain Management Programme reduces the disability and distress caused by chronic pain by teaching physical, psychological and practical techniques to improve quality of life.

Referral to a Pain Management Programme is usually via your local pain clinic.

Support groups

There’s lots of self-help advice available from a variety of organisations supporting people living with long-term pain, such as:

Charities specialising in specific conditions, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia, may also offer more targeted pain management advice.  You can also find more information at Pain – NHS (www.nhs.uk) and Your Health | Healthy Argyll and Bute

Able Futures: Access to Work Mental Health Support Service

Your health and wellbeing at work is our highest priority and we are always looking for ways we can enhance the support we provide. That’s why we have partnered with Able Futures.

Able Futures delivers the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service which can give you a mental health professional to talk to about whatever is on your mind.

There’s no charge to use the service and, over nine months, support from Able Futures can help you learn how to take care of yourself so can feel more able to tackle issues, feel better and learn new ways to manage your mental health throughout the ups and downs of life. 

If you are experiencing issues such as anxiety, depression or stress, or are struggling to deal with problems such as debt, disrupted sleep or relationship breakdowns that may be affecting your mental health, Able Futures could give you support from a mental health professional who will help you make a plan to help your mental health, so you can feel better and have more good days.

Support from Able Futures is available over the phone, video calls and through email. There’s no waiting list and it’s a completely confidential service. Able Futures won’t inform us, your colleagues, family or friends that you have accessed the service.

If you feel you could benefit from some support with your mental health and wellbeing, call Able Futures on 0800 321 3137 or visit Able Futures to find out more about the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service and sign up online.

What is and is not in our control?

Life can sometimes become overwhelming and it is easy to be affected by the actions and behaviours of others and in some cases, to try and take responsibility for them.  However, we can only truly be responsible for our own actions and behaviours.  One of our readers has sent us this poster which shows the things we can and cannot control in life, which may help to keep things in perspective.

You can easily create your own personalised “what is in and what is out of my control” chart in Word or via an online App or if you email wellbeing we can send you a blank template

Please let us know your thoughts and ideas about the items featured in our Wellbeing Wednesdays each week and send us your suggestions for future topics – we love to hear from you.

The Wellbeing Team:  wellbeing@argyll-bute.gov.uk