As you could read in the previous blog post, we are not powerless when it comes to influencing our own pain. In fact, there are so many possibilities, which you can apply yourself, to influence and even reduce pain! In the near future you can regularly read exercises, tips and stories that have everything to do with pain. You will find that you can always place these under the following four strategies:
Influences your feelings
Your feelings (emotions) and pain are strongly connected. Your brain hurts when it thinks it's in danger. You can imagine that your brain is more likely to go into 'danger' mode when you are stressed, or when you feel bad about yourself. If you succeed in making your feelings more positive, this will have a direct influence on how you experience your pain! This can be done, for example, by listening to good (uplifting) music, by focusing on relaxation, or by undertaking fun activities.
Influencing your behaviour
In general, two patterns are common when we are in pain (for a long time). We do too much and go beyond our limits, or we do too little and are therefore not active enough. Sometimes it is a mix, in which we are alternately too active and too passive. It is very important to find a balance here. So being moderately active in case of pain, and at other times not too much effort. An English saying goes 'motion is lotion', which means that movement is a necessary lubricant for everyone, especially people with pain!
Influencing your attention
The more attention for pain, the stronger the pain feels. Focusing attention consciously away from the pain causes the pain to be given less room. There are special attention trainings, such as Mindfulness, that focus on this. Sometimes it can also help to consciously do something that you enjoy, such as a hobby, reading a book or just watching a series to get the attention away from the pain.
Influences your thoughts
The last one is the hardest one. Because pain is a strong emotional process, a negative thought about pain can already make you feel (more) pain! How you think about pain can literally make your pain worse or better... On this blog you will find concrete exercises to turn your thoughts into more positive or helping thoughts. For now: If you can become aware that there are negative thoughts in you, that is an important first step.
These are the four broad strategies for positively influencing pain. Don't worry, every strategy will be discussed in detail. You will also notice that you can develop your own preference for a strategy, it is (fortunately) not necessary to master all four strategies!