Pain is often caused by tension, so learning techniques to relax and relieve tension can help break a pain-tension cycle. Relaxation can help to relieve pain, but also help to accept pain.
You can reduce muscle tension and/or tolerate pain more effectively by using techniques like:
- Relaxation imagery
- Mindfulness meditation
- Deep breathing, and
- Progressive muscle relaxation.
Progressive muscle relaxation involves intentionally tensing muscles, and then releasing the tension, which will raise your tolerance to pain. If tensing a muscle intensifies your pain, consider a different relaxation method.
Mindfulness meditation trains the mind to focus on the details of the present moment, so that you are not distracted by your mind wandering to thoughts about the past, or planning for the day. If you are in pain this may seem like a strange concept, isn’t distraction from your pain a good thing? But meditation training can make it easier to cope with short-term pain as you learn to become more tolerant.
The important thing is choosing the method that works for you. No matter what you try, you will need to keep up your practice. Aim to meditate daily for several weeks, but you can use your relaxation technique any time you are more stressed than usual, or in more pain – even several times a day. When you are first starting out, guided meditation through audio may help you find a peaceful mentality, but with practice you may find you require less guidance.
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