Is Pain Coming Between You and Your Loved Ones?

Research from the National Institute of Health find that just over 10% of Americans live in chronic pain—having pain every day for at least three months. For 17% of Americans, severe pain is part of normal life. If you’ve turned on the news lately, you know that this pain problem is directly tied to the opioid crisis. But even for those who are able to manage pain without the struggle of addiction, there can be noticeable effects on work and relationships. This blog will address the ways in which pain may come between you and your loved ones, the signs that you should seek couples counseling in Highlands Ranch, and ways to reconnect with those you love .

How Pain Affects Your Relationships

Pain is stressful. It distracts you when you try to concentrate, ruins your short-term memory with constant interruptions, and can even cause anxiety or mood disruption. Your brain only has energy to devote to so many things at once, and pain ranks high on your brain’s list of “important things.” Why? Usually, pain is a sign that something needs to change. You put on shoes that you think fit and experience pain later, this tells you the shoes do not fit well. You lift a heavy cabinet and your back screams out in protest, this tells you to lift with your legs or ask for help. But when pain is chronic, your body still keeps sending out these alarm signals, putting you on-edge and demanding your attention. When people visit Dr. Lazarus in Littleton for couples therapy, many report that the person who is in pain is irritable, frustrated, distracted, and distant.

DIY Tips

If your loved one had an acute injury, such as getting banged up in a car accident, it would be easy to accommodate these needs for a few days while he or she heals. The problem occurs when pain is chronic, because this “temporary” shift may seem like it takes over the person in pain forever. For the partner, there may be feelings of guilt, resentment, or frustration as well—your helpmate in life has taken a big blow, and may take a very long time to return to their previous levels of functioning. For the person in pain, seek effective pain management with your physician or pain specialist, and consider offloading some stress and learning new coping skills with a therapist. The partner may need to seek support as well. Both people in the relationship may need to re-think priorities and values, focusing on what is really most important. You may need to adjust your favorite activities together to accommodate the pain, but remember: the best part of being with your partner is shared time.

When to Seek Professional Help

No matter how hard you work at home, you may find that you and your partner are still struggling with the relationship effects of chronic pain. If you feel like harming yourself or others, if you or your partner is finding it increasingly difficult to engage in fun or daily activities, or if you feel that your resentment is growing faster than your understanding can accommodate, seek professional help to save your relationship! Intensive couple’s therapy with an animal-assisted therapist can help people break through barriers  and remember why they love each other, no matter how much stress, pain, or other life circumstances get in the way. To set up a session, contact Dr. Steve Lazarus today!

Harness Summer Learning With These Tips

With school out for the summer, children everywhere rejoice! At the same time, parents and educators tend to worry about the same problem: Where will all that new learning go? This is particularly true for children with ADHD, who not only have academic skills that have grown over the school year, but skills in terms of self-management, organization, and responsibility. Parents who bring their children to Littleton for ADHD counseling often ask “how can I keep my child’s brain active and engaged over the summer?”

Fortunately, the answer doesn’t need to involve summer school. It doesn’t even need to involve homework! In fact, there are plenty of fun ways to help your child maintain growths in learning, practice executive skills, and be prepared for the next school year without ever lifting a pencil! Read on to find out some of the best activities to keep learning active!

Math

Math requires a lot of remembering, so it makes sense that students will lose a little over the summer. Spice your child’s summer break up with some alternative math ideas! For younger children, quick reviews can help maintain gains. Consider asking your soon-to-be fourth grader to help you figure out how many hot dog buns to buy for the family picnic if 12 people are coming and each will eat two hot dogs, or have your middle school student learn financial skills  by calculating the tip at your favorite restaurant—without a calculator.

Science

With nothing to do all day, your children will have plenty of time to explore the natural world around them. To make it more exciting, consider staging a scavenger hunt, outdoor dissection, grow a garden, or even raise some animals, depending on where you live. This is the chance to interact with the environment.

Reading

The secret to raising a reader is to help them love reading. Model reading yourself, and seek out fun things that appeal to your child. They don’t have to read Shakespeare this summer—graphic novels, comics, or other “non-academic” pieces are perfect for summer fun. Check out your local library for reading promotions with prizes!

Social Studies

A vacation to a historic site or political area can leave memories for a lifetime, and your child will have the best “what I did last summer” essay ever!

Executive or Organizational Skills

Most ADHD counselors in Littleton will tell you that children with ADHD tend to do better with structure and routines. But tell your teen that you’re going to keep the school-year schedule all summer, and you may be in for a battle! Instead, work with your existing schedule and emphasize flexibility. Remind them how some routines (such as showering or tidying up the living space) continue year-round, and encourage the same self-management tools  you have used throughout the school year for summer management—those summer camps, marathon sleepovers, swim lessons, and more can be planned and prepared for just like anything else, and are usually easier to prepare for as well.

If you feel like your child has typically “lost” more learning over the summer than other children, your child may benefit from a psychological assessment to better understand strengths and limitations to learning. To find out more, or to discuss parenting and behavior management tips, contact Dr. Lazarus.