Relaxation Technique (1)

Dealing with Chronic Pain - Relaxation Technique (1) Posted 31 May 2014

We know that chronic pain affects a number of our Mates so we thought we would share some links that we think are helpful. Two great websites to check out that are filled with information are Pain Australia (http://www.painaustralia.org.au/consumers/reading-materials.html) which contains the Australian Pain Management strategy as well as lots of links to information and treatment services; and Veterans MATES which is a DVA initiative to help you understand the different types of medication that you might be prescribed (https://www.veteransmates.net.au/VeteransMATES/VeteransMATESServlet?page=index).

You might also like the below article from ‘Psychology Today’ about the use of Mindfulness in chronic pain management. Keep in mind that we offer group mindfulness sessions and individual mindfulness-based therapy at Mates4Mates that helps people to cope more effectively with unwanted physical and emotional pain (currently at Brisbane office only).

 Psych Tips

Bodily discomfort has three components: (1) the unpleasant physical sensation itself; (2) our emotional reaction to the discomfort, such as anger or fear; and (3) the thoughts that are triggered by the discomfort, such as, "This pain will never go away" or "I'm a weak person because I hate this pain so much." You might notice that (2) and (3) are secondary to the pain and are often called mental suffering. The technique below will focus on (1) the actual physical sensation of pain, although the techniques described can help with any physical discomfort.

Preliminaries. It always helps to begin with conscious breathing in which you pay attention to the physical sensation of the breath as it goes in and out of your body. Find a comfortable position—sitting or lying down—and begin to breathe mindfully. Do a quick scan of your body from head to toe. If you feel any muscles that are tight, try to relax them. Then try this next tip. We will bring you on tip each week for the next four weeks.

Focus on the pain itself, paying careful attention to the sensations that make it up. Is there burning? Is there throbbing? Is there tingling? Heat? Cold? Are there waves of sensations where the pain gets more intense and then less intense? This separating out of the sensations is called "sensory splitting." It helps you see that what you've been thinking of as a permanent solid block of pain is really many different constantly changing sensations. When you separate the sensations in this manner, pain is no longer "a thing," and so you're much less likely to be carried away by stress-filled thoughts about it, such as, "This pain will never go away." You can even drop the word "pain," and just notice the sensations as arising and passing experiences in your body. Doing this helps you see the impermanent nature of this collection of sensations that we call "pain. Finally, bring an attitude of kindness toward the sensations, even though they may be unpleasant. Your body isn't purposefully making you suffer. Treat it as you'd treat a child in pain.