Is pain in the eye of the beholder?
Pain intensity heavily depends on how dangerous, scary, or how you perceive the situation. If you feel safe or that it’s a beneficial pain, the pain will be dulled. If you think you’re in danger or anxious, the pain will be more intense
Pain is a complex phenomenon because it’s not one thing, its multi-dimensional. This may be why therapists and doctors have a hell of a time getting rid of it. There’s a silent epidemic of chronic pain, one in five Canadian adults suffer from chronic pain.
Your brains decision to create pain is based on numerous factors, which include:
A few common causes of pain
Things that can influence pain
What can make your pain worse
6 - Deep breathing
When we are confronted with stress or pain, it’s natural to hold our breath but this mechanism won’t help you get out of pain. Breathing through the pain can actually help us significantly. When breathe deeply, we do a few things in the body. We oxygenate the blood which can release endorphins which can help with pain
Here’s our tip to help with breathing if you’re in a lot of pain
- Breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of 4.
- Hold your breath for a count of 4.
- Breathe out through your mouth for a count of 4.
- Hold for a count of 4.
5 - Mindful Meditation
In recent years, a growing body of evidence has found that mindfulness and meditation have the ability to relieve pain by creating structural and functional changes in the brain.
Regular meditation can help you enjoy lowered stress levels, increased wellbeing, reduced blood pressure, and your resting heart rate.
There was a study that assigned 109 patients with chronic pain to either a mindfulness meditation program or a control group. The meditation group reported found for lower general anxiety and depression, better mental quality of life (psychological well-being), feeling in control of the pain, and higher pain acceptance.
More on that here
4 - Relaxation response
Dr. Herbert Benson is an author, cardiologist, professor of Mind Body Medicine at Harvard Medical School– his book “Relaxation Response “ is used by top psychologists to reduce stress and pain. The response is defined as your personal ability to encourage your body to release the chemicals and brain signals that make your muscles and organs slow down and increase blood flow to the brain.
The whole point is to bring down the “fight or flight response” aka the response from stress. The Relaxation Response as a physical state of deep relaxation which engages the other part of our nervous system—the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest).
Research has shown that regular use of the Relaxation Response can help any health problem that is caused or exacerbated by chronic stress such as fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal ailments (IBS/ Chrons / Colitis, insomnia, high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, and others.
3 - Swearing
What starts with “F” and ends in “uck”?
Well if you said “Fire Truck” technically you’re not wrong, it’s just not what I was thinking.
Get it out it helps.
There are reports that swearing can increase your pain nearly 50% longer than people who don’t swear. Buy a bigger swear jar and use that extra money to be put aside to a trip that’s warm (it can help your pain too).
Swearing can make you stronger!
2 - Exercise
Exercise can have positive implications for pretty much everything from your heart, lungs, brain, muscles, mood, and pain levels.
There are side effects though..
- Improved sexual function,
- Changes in gene expression (Exercise Turns Off Fat Genes)
- Clearer skin
- Improved mood
- Improved sleep
Research and the impact of exercise on chronic pain has significantly grown over the last 25- 30 years. The results consistently support the benefit of physical activity for the treatment of chronic pain, either alone or with multimodal approach.
Tip: This one is tricky – you’ll have to try different types and intensities of exercise to find with what works for you. Too much or too little exercise can make the pain worse
1 - Perception
Positive thinking, is it bullshit?
What if I told you that the body may register two different types of pain. The soreness of a getting stung by a bee just doesn’t feel the same way as a muscle soreness from working out.
What may be able to explain this?
The muscle soreness is beneficial and your brain may perceive it as a good pain.
Here’s where it gets interesting…
Researchers wanted to put this to the test. They tested this by cutting of the blood supply to the arms with one main reason, who can last the longest. The average was about 14 minutes per both groups. They split the groups by telling 1 group that doing this to their arm is a bad or detrimental to it. The other group was told it was beneficial for strengthening and the greater the pain… the greater the benefit
Okay but what happen…
The second group was significantly higher than the group that was told it was bad for them. How does that happen? Probably because they truly believed it was a good thing.
But what if my pain isn’t good? That’s simple..
Lie to yourself.
I’m not joking, the mind is an incredible. Did you know you can trick your brain into feeling well rested after a poor nights sleep – By telling yourself and believing you slept well!
How does that help you?
Lie to yourself and try and change your thoughts on pain. It may be easier to listen to someone else’s lie than create your own, give it a try. It can be a valuable skill to add to your tool bag
BONUS - Fix your diet
We’re learning more and more about our “Gut Microbiome” from scientific articles but we still don’t know much about it.
Early reports are showing that our “bad bacteria” increases our pain perception to some extent. Poop link here
More research is needed but it’s a positive outlook for the chronic pain epidemic.
These 6 things aren’t a fully encompassing approach but may be able to drastically help you out.
Do you have any other tips that seem to work for you? We’d love to hear them! Comment on the post
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