Helping patients deal with medical misinformation can be quite frustrating, especially when it causes them to act in ways that are dangerous. Here is a metaphor that helps me avoid getting into arguments and do something helpful.
Imagine that you have fallen off a sheer cliff. You have managed to grab hold of a tree limb that has grown out of the cliff face. If you look up you see nothing but sheer rock. If you look down you see a dense cloud concealing everything below your knees. Your legs vanish into that cloud, and no matter how far you extend your legs, all you can feel under your toes is empty space.
You hear a voice telling you, “The ground is only a few inches below your feet. Just let go.” What would it take for you to trust that voice? What would you feel as you loosened your fingers?
A patient who clings to medical misinformation is in the same position, whether the misinformation is about vaccines, pain medications, food, etc. . In order for us to help them change, we don’t need to prove that we are right, that we know more, or that we are so smart. We need to prove that we will be there to catch them
This short video (~2 min) came from a newsletter I get about fire and safety issues. In the middle it shows a 3-D animation of how the antibodies created by the COVID vaccine protect the cell. I thought the animation was pretty neat.
For about 20 years I have been telling my patients to use a “have done” list, instead of a “to-do” list. Sometime during the day, usually near the end, they are to write down any tasks they completed or made progress on. The feedback has been extremely positive. People feel more hopeful and more energized from their “have done” list, and knowing what they have done helps orient them to what to do next. Its much less stressful than staring at a “to-do” list.
Apparently there is now some research support for this. The authors of the following article use a more structured process than I do. I simply ask people to write down what they have done, without planning to do something first. But I imagine their version may work too.
The “review” and “redo” techniques are powerful ways of training helpful habits. I received a request for instructions on these techniques from a participant in an online course on resilience that I am co-facilitating.
The instructions are adapted from a presentation I gave in Helsinki in Jan 2019 to health care professionals who worked on rapid resuscitation teams in hospitals.
For those who want to download a pdf of the instructions you can find that here:
The following instructions are to help with stress and are not meant as treatment for any medical conditions. If you have any discomfort from any technique then stop using it.
Recovery breathing maintains our reserves.
Stress tends to wear us down physically and emotionally. In the model of stress that I use, this comes from our reserves being depleted. When our reserves are depleted we feel physically exhausted or emotionally drained. Even thinking about doing something can feel too much for us.
We need to maintain our reserves no matter what type of stress we are dealing with. Breathing techniques can help us do that.
We can optimize the rate we recover from stress by developing three aspects of breathing. These are
In this post I will describe unease, one of the components of stress. I will explain how unease is related to emotions. I will also give an example of a meditation technique to reduce the effect of unease on our nervous system. An audio version of the text is below. A meditation track is at the end of the post.
I have a Tibetan bowl that many people have found quite relaxing. However, not all people like the same pitch. This post links to a page that has a number of differently pitched Tibetan bowl sounds. Each link on the page will take you to a 5 min track of a Tibetan bowl at a different pitch. Find one you like and relax.
One purpose of these Tibetan bowl tracks, the paced breathing tracks, and any of the relaxation tracks you can find on this site is to help you relax and recover from stress.
Another equally important function is that they should help you disengage your attention from useless focusing on what is making you uneasy and enable you to shift your attention to what may reduce your difficulty. More on this in a couple of days.
Our parasympathetic nervous system helps us recover from stress. When we breathe at a slow pace, generally between 5 and 7 breaths per minute for adults, our physiology shifts into a recovery state in which natural restorative processes become more active. This is associated with activation of the parasympathetic nervous system and it will occur within a few seconds of beginning that breathing pattern.
The link below points to a page with a series of videos that you can use to breathe with. Pick a pace and breathe with it. If a particular pace does not feel soothing then try a different pace. You are looking for a breathing pace that feels effortless and soothing. Your body should settle into it effortlessly. Most people like a pace between 5 and 7 breaths per minute. Continue reading Paced Breathing for Brief Relaxation→
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