Woman using meditation and relaxation to reduce pain or stress


Three ways you can reduce pain or stress

Your body has the ability to rewire itself. You can actually interrupt the pain process by controlling your body's reaction once the pain message reaches the brain. These exercises provide a starting point for learning how you can reduce pain or stress 

1. Self visualization

Reduce pain or stress to a level you can tolerate.

  • Define your pain. Bring your attention to the area that has pain or stress. Notice the characteristics answer the following questions: Does it have a color? Is it warm or cool? Moving or still? Bright or dim? Heavy or light?
  • Find an "exit route" for your pain. Pick three points in your body, one of which is the pain or stress spot. Create an "exit route" for using these three points. For example, if you have lower back pain, the three points could be your head, lower back and feet.
  • Send the pain to the "exit route." Imagine pulling healing light/energy/wind/sound into yourself. Pull it from the earth or sky and concentrate on your three-point exit route. Do this several times. Visualize the light or energy taking the image of pain or stress away with it.

2. Relaxation response

This exercise can help you relax all the muscles in your body, beginning with your feet and moving up to your head. Practice this for 10 minutes twice a day to help you re-enter a relaxed state more easily, even in times of stress.

  • Find a position that feels comfortable. You can sit or lie down. Find a position where your spine and neck are aligned and you can breathe easily. You may close your eyes, if that makes you more comfortable and focused.
  • Choose a word that helps you feel relaxed. This word could be something like love, peace or ocean—any word that helps you feel calm and relaxed.
  • Relax all your muscles. Start at your feet and move up or start at your head and move down. Feel the tension melt away as you notice and relax those muscles.
  • Breathe in and out through your nose. Begin to notice and become aware of your breathing. Focus on expanding your belly when you breathe in and feel it contract when you breathe out.
  • Breathe out. As you do, say your word over and over silently to yourself.
  • Your mind will wander. When it does, gently and kindly bring attention back to your breathing and your word. Continue to be aware of your breathing, focusing on saying your word to yourself when you breathe out.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: Understanding how and where your body stores stress lets you focus on these areas and relax them when you want to feel better. Visualize the muscles and parts of your body one-by-one, then relax them from your head to your toes.
    • Make the time. All you need is five minutes! Choose to make time for self-care in your day—you will be more efficient, effective and present in your personal and professional life.
    • Find a comfortable position and breathe. You can sit or lie down. Keep your spine and neck straight so you can breathe with ease. You may close your eyes, if that makes you more comfortable and focused. Notice your breath, allowing it to enter and exit slowly and easily. 
    • Release tension with your breath. Become aware of your head, then soften and release tension in your scalp as you breathe out. Soften and release tension in your brow, cheeks and jaw as you breathe out. Progressively continue to notice and release tension from each muscle in the body, moving slowly from the head down to the bottom of your feet.

3. Slowly return your awareness.

Feeling relaxed, present and renewed, slowly return your awareness to your surroundings. Set your intention for whatever comes next in your day.


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