Stress, tension and anxiety are common among sufferers of chronic pain conditions. These feelings can damage our health, weaken our immune system and amplify pain. Research has shown that stress has a physiological effect on the body and can raise blood pressure and heart rate while depressing the immune system. People who suffer from chronic pain related to an injury or illness may benefit from relaxation training to relieve stress by slowing down the body and quieting the mind. They may find it also lessens their pain. Finding peace when you’re in constant pain is not always easy but there are relaxing techniques that can help you cope.
Relaxation training is often used to complement other treatments aimed at reducing pain. Proper medical care is important and doctors can suggest a course of treatment that may include medication, surgery, psychotherapy or physical therapy. Besides relaxation, there are other holistic practices that can reduce stress and pain, including acupuncture, massage and biofeedback. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, relaxation techniques can help patients refocus their attention, increase their body awareness and connect the mind and body. According to the center, the types of relaxation that can help people in distress are: autogenic training, breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and meditation.
Types of Relaxation Training Techniques
- Autogenic training uses body awareness and visual imagery to induce a deep state of relaxation.
- Deep breathing can also reduce physical and psychological stress.
- Progressive muscle relaxation is when you slowly tense and release each muscle group individually to relax the body.
- Meditation: Forms of meditation include mindfulness meditation, where students put their attention on thoughts and sensations, and Transcendental Meditation, where a single word or phrase (mantra) is repeated to bring on a state of relaxation.
Relaxation Training can help to reduce the perception of pain. People who were recovering from surgery and used guided imagery tapes for stress reduction reported less pain and the need for fewer medications than patients who didn’t use the tapes, according to the center. Relaxation is something that can be self-taught with the right books, audiotapes or videos. There are also meditation and/or relaxation classes offered all around the country. Many medical facilities have also adopted some of these practices to compliment medical treatment.