Use this list to start the New Year and consciously reduce your pain.
Trust that they work. There is a reason that you’ve probably heard most of these suggestions. Why? Because they consistently help!
Practice these ideas alone when you first learn them. You can do this at your own pace until it becomes second nature and then access these amazing tools when pain strikes.
You now have quick and efficient skills you can use even if you are out with others. No one will know when you pay attention to your breath, distract yourself from your pain, do a quick body scan, watch your words while speaking, smile, reduce your stress, or drop your shoulders. What a powerful toolkit!
9 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Chronic Pain
Let’s delve a little deeper into these 9 proven ways to reduce chronic pain. I use them to take my focus off trigeminal, occipital, and glossopharyngeal neuralgia, migraines, arthritis, and fibromyalgia.
Use these 9 suggestions as a master plan for pain management. Once your attention moves to something as simple as your breath, you will feel relief and can return to what you love doing.
By being consistent, you’ll trust that these will retrain your brain’s response to pain.
One – Deep Breaths
Bring your focus to your breath. Breathe into the count of three and out to the count of six. That’s it. If you can’t remember how many breaths in and out when you need this, just make your in-breath shorter than your out-breath. No one is checking to make sure you did the right number. Seriously. Just focus on your breath in the moment of pain.
For more breathing information, visit Harvard Medical School’s 6 ways to use your mind to control pain.
Two – Distraction
This is one of the best things you can do for pain relief because distraction helps move you away from catastrophizing about every ache and pain. “… it appears to involve competition for attention between a highly salient sensation (pain) and consciously directed focus on some other information processing activity.”
Keep a To-Do List where you can see it! Use this to turn your attention away from your body sensations. It works.
PubMed.gov clearly explains this concept in How Does Distraction Work in the Management of Pain?
For more information, check out my blog on Distraction is the Most Powerful Analgesic.
Three – Body Scan
The idea behind this is you may think that you have pain everywhere. Body scanning allows you to scan your entire body and notice what aches and where you are pain-free. In the process, you will find areas that feel good like your kidneys or fingernails. Focus on all your pain-free areas and be grateful.
Once you have practiced this at your own pace, place your attention on your feet and move quickly through your body to the top of your head. You will then be able to do this when you are with others without them ever knowing.
For an expanded version of body scanning, read Scan Your Body to Reduce Chronic Pain. It includes a short video on body scanning.
Four – Watch your words
When you talk about your pain, listen to the words you use. Are you saying, “It’s killing me? It’s the worst pain I’ve ever had. I’m a 10 on the pain scale. I can’t stand this anymore. How can I live another 10 years with this?”
Just notice. No judgment.
When you get some time alone, jot down the words you used and dig into them. A good sentence to focus on is “It’s the worst pain ever.”
Now ask yourself if you were having a conversation or eating a meal during your worst pain ever. Most people with this level of discomfort would not be able to talk or eat. After you think about this, learn how to change your words when speaking to others.
The School of Medicine and Public Health University of Wisconsin Madison suggests the following steps in their article Chronic Pain: Using Healthy Thinking
Stop. Notice your thoughts. When you notice a negative thought, stop it in its tracks and write it down. Ask. Look at that thought and ask yourself whether it is helpful or unhelpful. Choose. Choose a new, helpful thought to replace a negative one.
Five – Smile
Smile for no reason at all. Smiling helps reduce pain even if all you’re doing is moving the muscles in your face up. When you are with others, smile where it’s appropriate or you’ll look a little maniacal smiling at everything.
“…many studies have shown that facial expressions really can influence how we feel….” Bob Hirshon, Science Update
Six – Reduce Stress
This has to be added, but I purposely did not put it as number one. Why? Because you know this, but the question becomes, “How do I reduce stress when I am in so much pain??????!!!!!!!!!!”
You can reduce it by using these 9 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Chronic Pain in 2020. When you stop focusing on it, you will reduce it. Enough said.
Stress Relievers: Tips to Tame Stress by Mayo Clinic Staff
Seven – Drop Your Shoulders
Place your awareness on your shoulders. Are they by your ears? Drop them down where they belong. Now move them down a little deeper and feel your shoulders relax and notice how your whole body relaxes.
When you have more time, you can do progressive muscle relaxation throughout your whole body. It’s worth it.
Relaxation Techniques by Australian Pain Management Association
Eight – Walk or do Some Form of Movement
You know that you have to move even with back pain, arthritis, or nerve pain. Search the internet for the best exercises for your condition and check with your doctor before you start a new routine. Be safe.
Remember that motion is lotion! “…in most painful conditions, with too much rest, people stiffen up and get more painful overall. Moving them regularly keeps joints and soft tissues more flexible and less painful.” Best Health Physio Knowledge in Motion
Nine – Join an Online Support Group
Face-to-face support groups are often difficult to get to when you have persistent pain. Online support groups (often through Facebook or online meetings) are now available for most issues, so search for your specific disease. These can help you feel understood because you will be chatting with those who have the same condition.
Make sure your group has an active administrator who will remove posts and ban people who break the group rules such as no promotions or spam, no links to products you sell/earn commission from, no service you provide that earns income, no self-interest, and no becoming over the top or pushing your viewpoint to scare others.
Select one that is kind, compassionate, supportive, caring and creates a safe place for you to share your experiences and to hear others. Know that you have the right to drop out of groups that are not a good fit for you.
Support groups: Make connections, get help by Mayo Clinic Staff
Start the New Year with a pain reduction plan. This is a great place to start.
Gail Sinclair, MHt, CNC is a hypnotherapist who helps those living with chronic pain go from discomfort to thriving by using hypnosis, pain management tools and resources.
She is a Master Hypnotherapist, Nutritional Consultant, and a Reiki Master Teacher. She has over 20 years in healing work and is an international award-winning speaker.
Gail lives in Portland, OR with her delightful husband, son, and cat. She can be found cooking, knitting, writing, and figuring out new ways to thrive with Trigeminal, and Occipital Neuralgia.