Our recent post on the affects of drugs and alcohol on Mental Health was quite startling.
We also know that one of the things we use alcohol and drugs for is pain control. During the last year there has been a significant increase in back, neck and shoulder pain, due to people working at kitchen tables or hunched over laptops on their sofas. So I wanted to give you something different to consider for managing chronic pain.
Did you know that Chronic pain affects more than 40% of the UK population? If you have chronic pain you will be familiar with the considerable suffering, physical limitations, the emotional distress and the impact it can have on your mental wellbeing. Chronic pain is a pain that persists for longer than 6 months, now, I don’t know about you but that doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs to me.
So, for anyone who is suffering from pain, instead of automatically reaching for the pain killers or the alcohol to numb the pain, I wanted to give you some alternative methods to consider for pain relief and overall wellbeing. As a long-term back pain sufferer, I understand just how debilitating it can be not just physically but also mentally and emotionally. So I give you theses not in any way to diminish how difficult it is, but to open up to alternatives that might just give you a little pain relief.
So, what is pain? Well, pain is just a message from the brain that alerts you to pay attention because something in the body needs support or help. This is important to understand so I will say it again…..pain is just a message, it’s the body’s way of communicating that something is ‘out of kilter’ as we say in Scotland. So, my first alternative, is something very close to my heart and that is hypnotherapy. Research has proven that hypnotherapy has consistently produced significant decreases in pain associated with a variety of chronic pain.
If we remember that pain is just a message from the brain then hypnotherapy can be used to moderate the pain signal, now it won’t miraculously sort what is causing the pain (although this is also possible). What is can achieve is to set up an agreement with the subconscious mind to reduce or turn off the pain signal as long as you are not doing anything that would contradict the recovery or healing process.
One of the other ways it works is by redirecting your attention from the sensation of pain. The great quote ‘Energy flows whether attention goes’, so if you are focussing on something positive or relaxing then positivity and relaxation is typically what you will experience. You have probably heard of hypno-birthing, which assists mothers giving birth without any pain medication, it’s the same principle, the hypnosis focusses your attention on something relaxing or positive. Hypnosis allows you to find a relaxed state of comfort and focus your attention on areas that distract from the pain. The added benefit of hypnotherapy is that it also works well for any associated stress, fear and anxiety related to the pain. Stress, fear and anxiety can escalate feelings of pain, as the body will react with more tension, increased tiredness and be less resilient.
You can find hundreds of hypnotherapy sessions online for free, and all you need to do is lay back, relax and listen. Don’t worry about getting ‘brain washed’, it doesn’t quite work like that. You have to be a willing participant and your brain will only allow changes that you ask for and are comfortable with.
If hypnotherapy is not for you then some other tips to consider include simple distraction techniques. As an athlete I spent a lot of time running in pain, caused by lactic acid. So, my distraction technique would be to count my fingers, over and over again. Whilst doing this I was less aware of the pain, as my brain was distracted by counting (remember energy flows where attention goes). You will be familiar with this if you’ve ever had a cut that you didn’t know you had, but the minute you become aware of it, guess what, it starts to hurt. Same principle, you were only aware of the pain when your brain focussed on the message.
Mindfullness and meditation can also offer many benefits, as they are relaxation techniques and will help relax the body and mind. Again, this is also very good from overall mental wellbeing and aids stress, anxiety, depression, fear etc.
For even quicker and simpler fixes the old fashion hot/cold compress remedy has worked a treat for me over the years to take that edge of the pain.
So there you have some of my alternative thoughts on how to manage chronic pain, hopefully this will give you some new options, which also aid your Mental Health and Wellbeing.
Stay safe and as always, get in touch if you need any support.