Mind and body go together. As stated by every naturopath ever. However, this is incredibly true. Our pain receptors are in our brain, and how each person perceives pain is different because of this. This isn’t to say that you can completely cure chronic pain by having some enormous will-power to make your mind perceive it differently. But there are some great ways to help with chronic pain in the meantime. I’ve touched on mindfulness in the past, but I feel it needs more exploration.
Image from: http://www.aplanforliving.com/science-shows-mind-body-connection-real/
Most of us, whether we suffer from chronic pain or not, can benefit from meditation. It has a calming effect, and can put you in the right place to live your day in the present. I like to start off my day this way. Recommended length of time for meditations is 20+ minutes. I’m pretty comfortable at around the 10 minute mark, at least for the time being. If you’re not used to meditating, it’s good to start slow and work your way up. It can be a little boring, and it’s impossible for your mind not to wander. The slow process of training your mind to come back to the present can be excellent for chronic pain, anxiety, and honestly, just life. Temporary relief can be better than no relief, and training your brain is only helpful in the long run. I started off with guided meditations (which I mainly still use), and now can, if I’m feeling up to it, do unguided (definitely requires more discipline). There are lots of place to find guided meditations (or unguided meditation soundscapes). YouTube is a great resource, as are certain apps (basically type ‘Meditation’ into your AppStore or PlayStore and you’ll find some good ones (some free, some paid. Try out the free samples on the app before making a decision if you want the membership or not). There are also meditation groups you can go to if you want some company while you meditate. I haven’t done any yet, but there is a LGBT-friendly group here in my city that meets every Wednesday night from 730-930. They meditate for an hour or so and then socialize with cookies and coffee after. It sounds interesting so I plan on checking it out this month.
Image from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/faisal-hoque/mindfulness-practice_b_4114543.html
Visualizations can also play a key role with chronic pain. They allow you to use your imagination to morph your body, pain, etc. into something else. Potentially something that doesn’t feel pain (like my “zombie hand”). If you haven’t done visualizations before, you can find them on the internet, but they are pretty generic. If you want to do more personalized ones, I suggest working with a therapist (if you already see one, if not, I recommend you check one out). Once you’ve done few, they are easier to come up with on your own. I find them particularly helpful if I’m in pain at night. Lying in bed in pain, I have nothing better to do than to imagine my pain turning into something not painful.
Image from: https://paindoctor.com/chronic-pain-management-mind/
These are just some suggestions for mainly free, alternative therapies that have had some proven effect on chronic pain, as well as anxiety and depression. If you have any similar suggestions, please feel free to send me an email or comment on this post!