Supporting Self-Management at Work
Importance of Self-Management
Because persistent pain may not respond to standard medical treatment, if can be disabling and frustrating to manage. Often, health professionals have exhausted their range of therapy and treatement tools. However, there are things an individual can do to self-manage their pain. After all, they live with their pain 24/7 and pain management skills may already be incorporated into their everyday lives. Self-management does not mean going it alone. Any effective self-management plan involves an individual's friends, family, healthcare providers, and co-workers.
There is strong clinical emphasis for people with chronic but manageable conditions that self-management can help reduce the burden of chronic pain or fatigue from illness.
Four Stages of Self-Management
- Seeking effective self-management strategies
- Considering costs and benefits
- Creating Routines and plans of action
- Negotiating self-management that fits one's life
Benefits of Self-Management
- Appropriate exercise and diet
- Mental strategies to cope with pain
- Knowledge and ability to advocate for changes in medication
- Strategies to cope with fatigue
- Ability to set and achieve goals (solution-orientation; internal locus of control)
- Maintaining a positive outlook
- Cultivating discipline and motivation
Self-Management in the Workplace
Studies have found that individuals with musculoskeletal disorders who played an active role in self-managing their condition were less worried about losing their jobs due to their injury/illness.
For individuals who are suffering from chronc illness or pain, coping with the discomfort at work is influenced by multiple factors:
- Monitoring thoughts and emotions
- Using care when talking about the pain or illness
- Finding leeway within their work requirements
- Being prepared for a bad day
- Knowing their work setting
The principles of self-management can help improve all of the coping skills that help people with chronic illness or pain stay at work and avoid long-term disability.
Encouraging Workers Toward Self-Management
Early on, injured workers should be encouraged to learn self-management techniques as a way to deal with their chronic pain. Once applied, these techniques will boost their confidence and increase their chance for returning to work quickly. Prolonged periods away from work have been shown to be harmful.
There are several ways employers can encourage self-management in the workplace:
- Provide information to workers about online and in-person self-management courses
- Create and atmosphere of flexibility around both the activities and hours required for the jobs in your workplace
- Foster a culture of open communication
- Provide educational courses about managing work stress and work-life balance