Relaxation is your ability to exert control over your autonomic (automatic) nervous system. This part of your nervous system is responsible for your stress response – increased heart rate, breathing rate, shallow breathing, feeling agitated, tense muscles, more pain…
As pain itself is a ‘stressor’ you may find that this is an unhelpful cycle. In the longer term, the brain becomes accustomed to this cycle and your ‘stress response’ to pain becomes a natural and largely unnoticed process.
We can take control of this system quite effectively through relaxation. If you can remain relaxed even though you feel your pain, your brain will no longer associate pain with ‘stress’. You can further enhance this effect by reminding yourself that chronic pain is mainly a consequence of sensitisation, not harm or damage.
Learning to relax however, takes practice and patience. There are many techniques and ours are simple breathing control measures. Try them but also look for others that you might find useful.
- Allow yourself 15-20 minutes
- Get yourself comfortable in a chair or on your bed
- Turn off your phone / computer / tablet if you can
Practice, practice, practice!