Chronic pain is very complex and so is stress. Stress can actually contribute to chronic pain. If you are under stress and also suffer from chronic pain, you are in luck. There are plenty of relaxation exercises that you can incorporate into your pain-management plan that will both reduce stress and pain.
First, we need to understand how stress affects your body. It is very similar to how your body responds to pain. Your heart rate and blood pressure rise, your breathing is fast and shallow, and your muscles tighten. Most of us can actually feel this response when faced with a stressful situation like speaking in front of a crowd or having a near accident in traffic. Those of us that constantly worry about things have chronic stress. Over time, this can be detrimental to your body. Your nervous system is always on high alert, your stress hormones increase, and your muscles remain tense. Sound familiar? Chronic stress can physically hurt.
Here are some relaxation techniques for those of you that experience chronic pain and high amounts of stress. These calm your mind and reduce stress hormones.
Breathe in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth. You can try inhaling and exhaling in counts of four. Inhale and count to four, exhale and count to four, hold for four, and then repeat.
Many people undergoing chronic pain and stress find that hypnotherapy works well. Hypnotherapists can put you under hypnosis and give you suggestions like, “you are going to sleep well tonight”. You can also tell yourself these things through self-talk or have your therapist tape the session for you to listen to while relaxing. During hypnosis, your brain is tuned out and not concentrating on the stress and pain in your life. After a session, you will feel more relaxed.
Sit or lay down in a quiet place and concentrate on your breathing without controlling it (unlike the breathing exercises). If you think about your pain or whatever stresses you, try to push that thought away and think about better things or nothing at all. Take this time, maybe 20 minutes, to just relax and think about nothing at all.
Do not become stressed about which one to choose! You can pick any exercise that you think will suit you. Try them all if you want. Also, do whatever you know relaxes you like listening to music, playing an instrument, getting lost in a book, going for a walk, gardening, etc. Stress can manifest itself into your chronic pain. Do not let these two control your life. If you cannot conquer both, conquering your stress is the best solution.