Chronically-ill people are always in pain; this is one of the main reasons why chronically-ill individuals experience a low quality of life. So, most chronically-ill people spend a lot of money on medicine that they can use to minimize their pain. But there are other non-medicinal cognitive ways to manage pain.
We must remember that our brain is an organ which perceives pain. This does not mean that you are making up the pain. Rather it means that you can use your mind to manage pain since that is where it originates. So, you can use the brain for good too.
Changing how our brain functions and responds to pain is a skill that can be learned which can be very useful in mastering and controlling pain and its effects on our daily lives.
To demonstrate the power of the mind, try the following exercise.
• Make yourself comfortable
• Close your eyes
• Think about a lemon
• It is bright, yellow, juicy and ripe
• Bring the lemon up to your nose (in your imagination) and smell the citrus aroma
• Slice the lemon in half and imagine biting into the lemon with the sour juice squirting into your mouth and dripping down your chin
• Suck the juice
• Linger another few seconds with this image in your mind
• Now open your yes
This is a simple example of how the mind can affect the body. If we can affect the body so easily without trying very hard, imagine what we could accomplish if we worked at it!
Another way to manage pain using your mind is to try distraction. One of the best ways to distract yourself is by changing your mind and what you are thinking about and not focus on the pain as much.
As you may know, the mind can’t focus on two things at once. That is why it is hard to rub your head and pat your stomach at the same time.
Therefore, you can use your mind to distract yourself from the pain you are feeling. There are many different distraction techniques that you can learn. Below I will outline a few distraction techniques for you to try.
Distraction is a technique that can be used for short, painful activities such as opening a jar or climbing the stairs. It is also useful if you are having trouble falling asleep.
Our minds have trouble focusing on more than one thing at a time. Therefore, if we can focus our minds on something other than the pain, the pain will be less. Remember, however, that you do not want to totally ignore your pain and never ignore chest pain.
Here are a few examples of distraction techniques:
• Engage in an engrossing activity such as gardening, crocheting, cooking, watering your flowers, or just sitting outside beside a lake or river. All of these activities can take you away from your pain once and for all.
• You can sing a song as well. for instance, if you are going to do an activity that you know will cause some pain, such as vacuuming, you may want to sing one of your favorite song or think of a relaxing place or sunset.
• Recall the alphabet backwards.
• Go for a nature walk and be mindful of very step that you take. Breathe deeply.
By engaging your mind in these ways, you will be able to cognitively distract yourself from the pain.
So, when you are having a difficult pain day, don’t hesitate to try one or more of these methods. They will really help you to feel better and less in pain.