Pain creates an adverse cycle in our bodies, increasing stress hormone levels and leading to inflammation. But mindfulness practice can help counter this dysfunctional pattern and improve overall health.
Results suggest that using a flexible telehealth format for mindfulness classes could increase adoption intentions. Self-efficacy and acceptability constructs from the Theory of Planned Behavior were identified as strong predictors of participants’ willingness to participate.
1. Deep Breathing Exercises
Deep breathing exercises may help alleviate physical sensations of pain by activating the body’s relaxation response, slowing heart rate and blood pressure, thus decreasing emotional and physical responses that exacerbate pain such as anxiety or stress.
People under chronic stress frequently find their normal breath rhythm disrupted, which can lead to anxiety, insomnia and depression. Regular deep breathing practice can rebalance breathing patterns and improve sleep quality.
Deep breathing exercises employ the diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle in the belly that expands and contracts during breathing, for deeper exercises. When compared with chest breathing techniques, this method provides more oxygen-filled breaths for those who have shallow lung capacity.
One can employ various techniques for deep breathing practice; an online search will produce many options. It is wise to practice during times of low stress until breathing becomes part of one’s daily routine.
2. Guided Meditation
Mindfulness involves becoming aware of your internal experiences in a non-reactive and curious manner, with an aim of becoming more aware of any sources of discomfort that may be contributing to it. The aim is to take a step back from any experience of pain to gain an increased understanding of its origins and cause.
Studies have demonstrated that those who engage in regular meditation practice are less sensitive to pain as measured by MRI brain scans, with mindfulness also helping reduce stress levels which amplify pain signals in the brain.
One of the most effective forms of meditation for pain relief is body scan meditation, a straightforward practice requiring participants to lie comfortably on their back while focusing on their breath.
Curable app’s 15-minute guided meditation session offers an easy way to develop mindfulness for pain management. By witnessing negative thoughts and self-talk that may trigger symptoms, and their associated tension and stress.
3. Body Scan Exercises
Mindfulness meditation is a popular wellness practice that helps people to relax by focusing on the body. Thoughts will arise during mindfulness meditation practice; these don’t need to be evaluated or given significance.
By increasing awareness of physical sensations, meditation can help identify areas of tension or pain and begin releasing them. Furthermore, it can reduce stress while creating feelings of self-compassion and acceptance within you.
By practicing meditation regularly, practicing may reduce chronic pain severity while simultaneously decreasing cortisol (the “stress hormone”). Studies have also demonstrated that even short-term body scan exercises may provide relief.
Mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of MBSR, recommends doing the body scan mindfulness exercise every day for 45 minutes. To do so, lie in a comfortable position with eyes closed and breathe normally while focusing on how your breath moves in and out; gradually shift focus from feet to torso etc.
Pain isn’t only physical. It is also an emotional state with profound consequences on how we think and feel. Mindfulness practices may help transform how we approach both mental and physical pain by teaching us how to better manage it.
Villemure has observed that when people anticipate experiencing pain, most individuals activate the sympathetic nervous system and cortisol levels increase as part of a “fight-or-flight” response. Yoga teachers, on the other hand, possess the unique ability to activate their parasympathetic nervous system for a “tend-and-befriend” response that can reduce stress related to pain.
Researchers conducted a 12-week flow-restorative yoga program and observed significant reductions in inflammation markers in blood, as well as improved symptoms and disability ratings in those suffering chronic back or neck pain. This research is an essential first step toward creating a full scale randomized controlled trial for yoga’s effectiveness in treating chronic conditions like back and neck pain.