More than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain in the U.S. today. With a greater need that ever before for treatments that are safe, effective and do not rely on drugs, pain management is a hot topic nearly everywhere you go. As we discussed in the previous post, chronic pain can have several causes, not the least of which is high-stress. And while it is nearly impossible to avoid stress altogether, there are many ways to destress and relax, benefiting the body in numerous ways including the drug-free management of chronic pain. Here are some easy ways to fight chronic pain through relaxation techniques.
Practice deep breathing. Tension leads to tightness in muscles and tightness in muscles often leads to pain. By practicing deep breathing and meditation, tightness is relieved as the body relaxes. Deep, measured breathing forces the body into relaxation mode, bringing down blood pressure, quieting the mind and easing tension. Unsure of where to start? Find a quiet spot with no distractions, close your eyes, picture a spot just below your belly button and breathe into that spot. Once your abdomen is filled with air, slowly exhale then repeat. To aid with concentration, begin breathing in to a count of five and out to a count of five. With the next breath, inhale to a count of four then exhale to a count of four and so on. When you reach one, start going back up again.
Take a walk or a yoga class. Sometimes, a break from your environment can be a huge stress reliever. Get your mp3 player or a bottle of water and take a stroll in the fresh air. Listening to soothing music or humming your favorite tune while you walk have added stress-relieving benefits. Not an outdoorsy person? Grab your mat and hit a yoga class. Yoga not only teaches those breathing techniques mentioned above, but also provides an uninterrupted relaxation session focused on strength and flexibility, which also have pain-relieving benefits. And you do not need to be a seasoned yogi to practice. There are many studios, gyms and community teachers who provide easy, low-cost sessions perfect for beginners.
Get a massage. Treating yourself to a massage is not only a great therapy for tired, tense or sore muscles but also a nice pampering session that help to de-stress and bring peace to your day. Many times, combined with aromatherapy and meditation, massages are a wonderful way to de-stress and alleviate pain, especially in the back and shoulders.
Find your comfort zone. Everyone is different so no one technique provides the best relief for every person. Try different relaxation techniques until you find what works best for you. Don’t be afraid to talk with your doctor about what might work best as well. By identifying effective ways to alleviate stress, your body and mind will learn to relax, and chronic pain will soon fade.