What are some strategies for relaxing when you are in pain?
There are many relaxation strategies to choose from so it’s important to find ones that work for you. Training your nervous system to relax is essential when you’re living in pain. It helps to calm anxiety, worry, and stress. An anxious mind cannot exist in a relaxed body, so creating pleasant physical experiences and practicing behaviors associated with safety will help bring the pain intensity down. Whether that be by relaxing in a hot tub or sauna, getting a massage, or carving out time for self-care, creating positive experiences is an important way to remind your nervous system how to feel good again. Another simple technique is deep breathing. Slow controlled breathing with longer exhalations helps to calm down your nervous system.
Because of the intertwined relationship of the body-mind, you can also increase rest and relaxation by targeting the mind. The brain plays a key role in modulating pain, and we can learn to use that to our advantage. Seeking out calming environments is also extremely helpful in soothing the mind and body. Being out in nature, listening to relaxing music, creating peaceful rituals, or engaging in something that brings you joy – anything you can do to help increase your sense of relaxation has a chance to decrease overall pain and suffering.
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