According to the National Institute of Health, pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined and is the most common reason that Americans seek health care.
If you've dealt with chronic pain—whether it be back and neck pain, headaches, arthritis or another kind—you may have heard about the mind-body connection. This concept refers to the role your mind plays in how you perceive pain and heal. Your brain sends out pain messages to make you feel pain when there is an outside threat. The mind-body approach to pain management utilizes this connection between your brain and body to help you cope with the pain. How you perceive your pain can worsen or improve your pain levels.
Coping techniques for chronic pain
Meditation can be done alone, or it can be guided. Often during guided meditation, you're encouraged to visualize specific images or situations to help you achieve a deeper state of relaxation. Breathing exercises also are practiced, many times while you focus on imagining inhaling calm energy and exhaling stress.
Moving mindfully involves slow, gentle movements. One of the goals of mindful movement is to stay in the moment by focusing on your movements and breathing. Mindful movement also has the added benefit of exercising and stretching your body. Exercises like yoga and tai chi are types of mindful movements.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
During PMR, you're guided into a meditative state and then instructed to tense and relax each muscle group in your body one by one. The practice can relieve physical and mental tension. Once the skill is learned, you can use it in your daily routine to deal with stress and even help you fall asleep.
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