Relaxation Techniques for Pain
These last few weeks have been more painful than most. My pain wants to take control of my life. Instead of letting that happen, I decided to continue my fight to conquer it. I decided that researching some relaxation techniques for pain might be helpful.
From that I decided to see what I could find that might help me feel better. I hope it might help you feel better.
The following list is not all inclusive. I am sure there are more techniques. But why not give one of them a try? Can’t hurt you, because no medication is involved. But they will take time and discipline.
What is deep breathing? There are many ways to practice this. The practice is in the name. You breathe deeply.
When you do this, the process sends more oxygen into the blood and into the brain. This releases endorphins into your bloodstream. These are “feel good” hormones which help relax you and reduce your stress.
There appear to be several forms of deep breathing. If you want to get started right now, try this simple form.
- Sit or lie in a comfortable position. Put one hand on your belly (just below your ribs) and the other on your chest.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, causing your belly to push out. Your chest should not move.
- Breathe out through your mouth, using your belly to push all the air out.
- Do this up to 10 times. Notice how you feel afterwards.
You should be calmer and less anxious. By pushing those endorphins through your system you should feel less pain too.
Divert Your Attention
Also called distraction, this involves forcing your brain to focus on something other than your pain. I guess you could say I am doing this right now by researching and writing this article. As I study new ideas, my mind can only focus on the work, and not the pain.
I found a great article on how to get started with practicing distraction. Click here to see the article. They suggest up to 20 activities to distract you. Very helpful. And the video of the children speaking about distraction is so sweet.
That link gave me some encouragement too. Playing a game on an app (which I do), will make you feel better. I’m not going to berate myself when I do that. I didn’t realize I was managing my pain this way.
First of all, I find this particular activity a real challenge, because it hurts me to walk. But I don’t feel I have much choice. I am in pain one way or another.
The same endorphins are released when you exercise, as when you do deep breathing. This makes you feel calmer and relaxed and may also work at minimizing the pain.
If you can get your heart rate increased, all the better. I have read that brisk walking is just as good as running for your heart. And there are other benefits, like lower blood pressure, and better sleep.
I wasn’t able to find much research to back up these claims, but some articles claim that singing can make you feel better for probably two reasons. The first is that you are focusing on an activity, and therefore distracting the brain from the pain.
The second reason is that like walking or deep breathing, you are releasing more feel good hormones into your bloodstream. Think about it; you have to do some deep breathing to sing in the first place. And then combining that with the distraction, you have a one two punch to the pain.
I can testify that when I sang in church choirs, I always felt better afterwards. I didn’t realize until now that the reason was all those endorphins swimming in my system. Find some music you can sing along with and belt out a few songs!
I’ve been singing to some Barbershop tunes while I write. I love the harmony. Listening to uplifting music is also just that; uplifting. Here’s an example of one I really enjoy.
I am a person that loves to go for a massage. But it is something I can’t always afford. I have had positive and negative experiences from massage; but mostly positive, thankfully.
There doesn’t seem to be research supporting the positive effects of massage as far as pain management is concerned. But there is proof that the massage of our muscles does relax the muscle and surrounding tissue.
I am also a firm believer in the power of touch. Just being touched (in a healthy way!) by another caring human can lift our endorphins.
Just a caution. The one negative experience I had made my pain worse. I have a feeling the therapist didn’t know much about pain. But other therapists had profound positive effects. I recommend checking how much your therapist knows about pain massage before they treat you.
Getting out has been a challenge during our quarantine period, hasn’t it? But just a change of scenery can help lift your spirits and take your mind off your pain. Again, some redirecting the mind.
If possible take a friend with you, or have a friend take you. Talking and listening are both activities that engage the brain and help to make the pain take a back seat.
I have a classic Chevy truck that I try to take out every Saturday afternoon for an hour. The feeling of the wind blowing through the cab as I motor down the road is such a spirit lifter. I hope you can find a similar experience to raise your outlook.
I do stretches almost everyday. I do set a goal to do them everyday, but sometimes the day gets away from me. But these stretches make a huge difference in my pain level. I like to think of stretches as a self massage. Pulling out the muscles does release tension.
Stretching also keeps your body young. Since starting these stretches over two years ago, I am more flexible than I’ve ever been, and I’m 69! Some of my friends who are younger tell me they can’t stretch like I can. (I know, I’m boasting. Forgive me.)
I recommend finding a program that you can stick to. Here are two DVDs that I recommend, and that I have reviewed. See the reviews here: Jane Adams Gentle Yoga and Emily Lark’s Back to Life. I use parts of these two programs plus some others.
May I recommend that you choose one of these suggestions and give it a try? I would ask that you get back to me on your results.
I am also open to suggestions of other techniques that you have found helpful. I’m in this to search for help for myself and others.
I am not a medical professional. Any new activity you start should be approved by your physician. I recommend these practices because they have worked for me.
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