Using Your Mind to Deal with Pain

Mentally Deal With PainUsing Your Mind to Deal with Pain

Everyone experiences pain in different ways. David Tauben, clinical professor at the University of Washington’s department of pain medicine says “Pain is a personal experience, and success comes from self-management.” How we respond to pain can actually affect the amount of pain we feel. When we respond with fear and anxiety, the pain response can be amplified, cause the pain to intensify. We respond to pain in both physical and mental ways, which has led some researchers to combine psychology with their study of physical pain. Tauben goes on to day “Be careful of negative thoughts and worrying. If it’s difficult to control them, find a professional to help you, like a psychologist or counselor.”

Tauben makes an important distinction in different kinds of pain. He says “It is important to understand the difference between danger and damage.” Is your pain caused by something that needs immediate medical attention? Or can you self-manage? If you think you are in danger, seek medical attention. But if you are not in immediate danger, try different methods to calm yourself down. Yoga, tai chi and other deep breathing exercises can all be helpful. Using these techniques can help you better manage pain. Tauben says “If you think your pain is a disaster, you’ll behave like it’s a disaster.” Making healthy lifestyle choices, like a balanced diet and plenty of exercise, can help improve your ability to self-manage pain over time. A professional like a physical therapist or behavioral-health trainer could also be helpful.

Once you are able to control the fear response to pain, try self-hypnosis. Tauben says you should “Think of a nice place where you’re safe, and go to that place in your mind’s eye. You have to train yourself to be in a calm, comfortable place physically or emotionally and practice that feeling when things are going well, so that when things aren’t going well, you can get back to it.” Whether the beach, a snowy mountaintop, or somewhere else, imagine what all of your senses would be experiencing to help yourself set the scene and relax.

Another thing that can be helpful to overcoming pain is to actively engage in challenges that are important to you. Tauben displays this to his students with a particular slide: one of an Arab warrior using his own leg, which has been cut off in battle, as a weapon. He says “If you’ve got something that is far more important than the sensation entering the body you’re experiencing, the pain disappears and you can focus on what is most meaningful.”

Adapted from an article by Jaime Lowe

See how mental control paired with CBD can decrease your pain further!

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