Learning to live with chronic pain takes courage, perseverance, patience and ongoing education. There are many ways to try to cope with and manage your pain. These include exercising, participating in support groups, seeking counseling and practicing relaxation techniques.
Chronic pain is both physically and psychologically noticeable. People with continual pain might find themselves battling not only stress, but depression, fear and anxiety as well. Health experts know that stress is bad for your health in general and for chronic pain in particular. Stress lowers your pain tolerance level, for example. They also know that techniques to help your body and mind relax can alleviate stress, thus helping those with chronic pain feel better.
Some relaxation techniques, such as muscle relaxation exercises, have a better track record with alleviating chronic pain than others, such as hypnosis. But you might find that a more popular technique does not help you at all. The best way to find out is to try it. You might find that a combination of techniques works best for you.
How people relax is very individual, according to Robert N. Jamison, PhD, a Harvard Medical School professor who works with people in chronic pain. “It’s a skill that comes easier to some than to others.”
Here are some of the relaxation techniques that can help people with chronic pain:
Muscle tension is a common response to pain and worry. Tense muscles feel pain more intensely than relaxed muscles. Learning to release tension from muscles is relatively easy. Exercises involve a series of quiet movements where participants actively tense and then relax different sets of muscles in a particular order, such as beginning with those in the head and working your way down to the feet.