How to Beat Chronic Pain with Mindfulness (Instead of Painkillers)

Chronic pain impacts about one-third of Americans, and many take prescription opioid medications. Using drugs can cause addiction or lead to an overdose. A new way to reduce pain and lower the incidence of painkiller abuse in people with chronic pain. Mindfulness therapy trains people to alter their response to pain, stress, and drug-related cues. Whatever happens in the brain impacts the body. Learn more about how to beat chronic pain with mindfulness.

Mindfulness Training

Mindfulness training to look at underlying processes involved in chronic pain and opioid abuse involves training the mind to boost awareness. This helps reframe events that trigger drug abuse and support enhancement of rewarding experiences. The last thing people want to do is to pay more attention to pain. The premise behind mindfulness is paying attention to something on purpose, with fresh eyes. This is why mindfulness is so helpful. Instead of focusing on how badly the pain is desired to stop. Instead of that, it helps to focus on training the mind away from the pain in order to cope in a healthy way. The brain will try to find its own ways to soothe the pain.

Body Scan

A body scan involves bringing awareness to each body part. Bringing attention to what the brain wants to move away from helps scan the entire brain and body to teach it what the experience can actually be with what’s there in front of them.

Breathing

When pain arises, the brain reacts automatically and states how it feels to the rest of the body. Though a person cannot stop negative thoughts altogether, the individual can calm their mind and get grounded by breathing. Simply breathing in, then out, in a rhythmic pattern is healing and supports how to best pay attention to where the person most feels the pain and focuses away from it. Breath can decrease stress and increase awareness while supporting an individual’s capacity to cope with life in the moment. It can also help relieve anxiety and stress, which can lead to relapse if a person has any addictions.
Mindfulness is an effective practice for approaching chronic pain. It teaches individuals to observe their pain, and be curious about it. And, while counterintuitive, it’s this very act of paying attention that can help your pain.

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