As Disney's Mary Poppins once said, ok, sang - “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Beyond taking this literally, we can also translate this into modern forms of treatment for patients, aside from pharmaceuticals.
The human mind is complex; we all have different reactions to life, as it rushes in to delight and/or overwhelm us. What Florence Nightingale considered "common sense" alternatives tomedical treatments, is what we moderns can use to physically mend ourselves through stimulating the senses. Here is my list of the top three modalities to enrich a patient’s recovery:
1) Music: I originally came across research that affirms the motherly intuition that music may be a power toease pain, because I also curate news about premature babies (see Health4mom.org). There have been quite a few studies done on this topic, including a piece I did encouraging moms to Sing to Your Baby from 2009. Here's an NPR article, that also mentions Florence Nightingale's work in this regard. Music is commonly used by many people to relax and induce sleep, or muffle the sounds of the city, so it’s only natural that an everyday element of many people’s lives be included in their recovery.
2) Art Therapy & Pop Culture: The American Art Therapy Association has made it their mission to spread the word that art is a healing methodology and that Art Therapists (AT) are vital to society. If an AT is unavailable, nurses have the ability to advocate to keep art materials on hand for patients. Inexpensive supplies such as sketchbooks, water color kits, or maybe even a few Etch A Sketch toys have proven to be therapeutic. This can also apply for pop culture, e.g., have a conversation with your patient about what movies or TV shows, or music they enjoy. This can jog positive memories and distract from physical or emotional pain.
3) Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) has become immensely popular in the last few years. Simply put, some people who hear common sounds like whispers, a pen scratching paper, tapping, crinkling of plastic packaging, or hair being brushed, get odd sensations that can cause a pleasant scalp-tingling sensation that leads to deep relaxation. The mysterious concept of ASMR is the focus of an upcoming documentary called “Braingasm.” A neurologist from Yale University School of Medicine is fascinated by the concept and cannot write it off as fiction. It is worth exploring to see if your patient reacts to these triggers in such a profound way that could relax them or make them feel less pain, and with such a wide variety of ASMR videos free on YouTube, you only need access to a mobile device or computer.
Candy Campbell,DNP, CNL, is an Assistant Professor at the University of San Francisco. She is also famous for “Channeling Florence Nightingale: Integrity, Insight, Innovation” on stage and in print. http://candycampbell.com and candythenurse.com