During the lockdown, I hurt my knee. I had thought of using this lockdown for an early spring cleaning. While lugging things around, I fell when I was trying to keep things in higher-shelves of the cupboard. No, I didn’t fall flat face instead; my knees took the blow, resulting in a painful bruise. Since I couldn’t go to the doctor due to fear of catching coronavirus; I decided to heal it by myself. For immediate therapies, I took to icing it and taking the occasional over-the-counter painkiller.
I also decided to heal it by following mind-body therapies. Mind-body therapies aim to change our awareness of pain and retrain the way we respond to it. It has been known that these therapies can help us control pain — such as chronic back pain — or how to deal with it better. These techniques might not erase the pain entirely but can enable us to change the perception of our pain intensity through distraction, relaxation, and replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.
Let me tell you the five mind-body therapies which are useful in relieving pain.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT teaches people to redirect their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors in response to chronic pain. For instance, if pain strikes you, you shouldn’t focus on it and think, why again? Rather, you will tell yourself that this is a momentary pain and it can be managed easily. You can focus your mind on things which makes you happy to feel relaxed and calm. A therapist trained in CBT will teach you on how to apply this therapy?
When we are in pain, we take short little breaths without noticing our breathing. But if we focus on our breathing and take deep breaths, this will quiet the mind and induce the relaxation response. This is a well-studied physiologic response that opposes the stress response and may reduce chronic pain severity.
To practice deep breathing, you should breathe slowly through your nose and allow your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs completely. Then exhale slowly through your mouth or nose. For several minutes, practice deep breathing.
Meditation induces a relaxation response and also lessens the perception of pain. You can try many methods of meditation such as transcendental meditation (repeating a phrase, word, or sound to quiet your thoughts); yoga (strengthening and stretching postures mixed with breathing techniques); or mindfulness meditation (focusing on negative thoughts objectively as they move through your mind, so you can achieve a state of calm).
To meditate, you can simply sit quietly, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Each time you exhale, you can say a word,’ OM’ or ‘Peace’. Let any thoughts wander in your mind, as you can come back to them later. Focus on breathing and repeat your word.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)
To build awareness and acceptance of moment-to-moment experiences, including pain, this approach combines mindfulness meditation and yoga.
A 2019 study published in the journal Evidence-Based Mental Health has found that MBSR was just as effective as CBT at reducing pain and depression. MBSR programs are used at hospitals, universities, and meditation centers, and online videos to improve physical functioning, compared with usual care or no care.
If you want to reduce the perception of pain, you can use relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation. If you’re going to try progressive muscle relaxation, begin with your facial muscles and work your way down the body. You have to tighten each muscle or muscle group for 20 seconds before slowly releasing the contraction. You will feel your muscles relaxing with every release of tension.