Facing pain without fear and learning to relax your body to get rid of tension can reduce the intensity of the pain felt. Relaxation is a skill that can be learnt. You may also have your own ways of relaxing, for example some people report that repetitive activities like knitting help them to relax.
Relaxation may also improve sleep, which, when poor can also cause stress, anxiety and increase pain.
There are many different types of relaxation. Some people have their own preferences so it’s worth exploring different ones.
Day Time Relaxation
Please click on the arrow below to listen to a daytime relaxation video.
Night Time Relaxation
Please click on the arrow below to listen to a nighttime relaxation video.
We have recently been developing an interest in mindfulness as an approach that has been shown, in clinical trials, to be helpful for people living with complex pain.
What is Mindfulness?
On the face of it, mindfulness can look like “just another relaxation technique” as the practice does involve taking time out to do things like sitting still and focusing on our breathing, which most people do find very relaxing.
However, mindfulness can also be seen as a sort of ‘philosophy’ or way of approaching life, both its good and bad aspects. Mindfulness practice encourages us to develop a certain kind of awareness of ourselves – our bodies, our thoughts and our emotions – that can help prevent us from feeling overwhelmed or frightened by some of our experiences. Instead, many people report feeling better able to cope and are more likely to“accept” them, without “giving in” to them.
This can be really helpful to all sorts of people in a wide range of different situations, including those who are just caught up in the ordinary stresses and struggles of everyday modern living as well as those with more specific difficulties like complex pain.
How can a mindful approach help me?
People who practice mindful techniques regularly and who have learned to incorporate some of its lessons into their everyday lives, notice the benefits in terms of increased calm, reduced anxiety and increased appreciation of the good things in life. Mindfulness is not a miracle cure or a painkiller, but people who suffer from pain have reported that it can help them cope.
People who live with complex pain can often feel that the only way that they can cope with their physical discomfort is by trying to “blot out”, “push away” or sometimes even “push through” their feelings. These approaches can work, to some extent (which is why people do them!) but, at the same time, to live like this on a daily basis can be extremely exhausting and draining.
Mindfulness offers a different way of approaching these difficulties. Instead of trying to reject them we are encouraged to let them be what they are, acknowledge them and leave them alone. Mindfulness practice encourages us to stop struggling with the things we don’t like and cannot change and to “make room” for them. At the same time, it can raise our awareness that there is more to us than these negative experiences and feelings and help us to identify the positive and good experiences available to us.
https://www.headspace.com – information about mindfulness & mediation
What does it mean when we ‘accept’ something?
Acceptance isn’t giving up, but accepting that pain is going to remain with you. To ‘accept’ could perhaps be thought of as one way to give up the hope that something will change …but this hope could be replaced by hope for something else. Maybe hope that we can use the energy we’ve saved fighting it on something else that matters to us.
You don’t have to like it, want it, approve of it – simply….
- …..allow it to be there (simply because it already is)
- …..give it permission to be where it already is
- …..let go of struggling with it
- …..stop fighting with it
- …..make peace with it
- …..make room for it
- …..soften up around it
- …..let it be
- …..breathe into it
- …..stop wasting you energy on pushing it away (it only comes back)
What do you already know about ‘Acceptance’?
Think about the following questions:
- When have you accepted something in the past?
- What told you this was the right thing to do?
- What was the result of you accepting it – gains and losses?
- What tells you that you ‘need’ to accept something now?
- What might need to happen before you are ready to accept?
- How would you know when you had succeeded in accepting?
When is it the right time to ‘accept’ something?
Perhaps it is time to accept something when….
- The things we have tried to change it or push it away have failed
- It is taking more effort or causing us more grief to fight something than it is to accept it
- Being patient with and kind to yourself also makes a real difference, rather than worrying about the negatives in life caused by pain.
http://www.healthtalk.org/chronichealthissues/Chronic_Pain/Topic/1616/ – further information & patient experiences of chronic pain