Across the board, regressions and relapses occur in every type of behaviour or lifestyle change, whether it's recovery from pain, smoking, or weight loss. While the ideal is that we persevere through the road block or speed bump and continue on through the recovery process, often, hitting a point where pain returns, a cigarette is lit, or a few pounds are gained back are enough to shatter motivation and derail progress altogether.
Common reactions to a relapse of pain include feeling negative towards yourself for the occurence or attempting to ignore the event, which are unproductive to moving past it.
As it turns out, you can closely relate behaviour change relapses between health behaviours fairly well across the board! For instance, these tips of quitting smoking are amazingly applicable to this very process!
1) Focus on the next 24 hours:
Manage the acute phase of the relapse. Modify the environment so that further aggravation doesn't occur. Understand that this was an acute occurrence only and that you shouldn't become down on yourself and treat all the work up until this point as a failure.
2) Talk to someone:
Seek advice or support as needed. Seek your therapist or even consult a doctor if it puts your mind at ease that this wasn't a complete reset to square-one.
3) Analyze what happened:
Did you decide to get too aggressive with the weight you were squatting? Did you take a week off of your rehab exercises in too-early of a stage? Try and ask yourself exactly what may have caused this relapse to happen so that you can use that knowledge for future recovery.
4) Build a new plan:
This one is built straight into the basic rehab process. We're always modifying and changing pain-management and prevention strategies as needed, and having this relapse happen is a bit of a blessing in disguise, as it can help you and your therapist to further progress your long-term plan.
We try my best to ensure that our clients are ready for the possibility of their pain returning at some point, whether it's simply next week or a sudden reoccurrence in five years. Yes, it may happen. No, it is not the many steps back that you may think it is. And yes, there are steps that you can take to get right back on the train and continue to always get better.