Fibromyalgia

Mindfulness for Chronic Pain: Does it Actually Work?

By April 1, 2018 No Comments

 

I guess you’ve heard about mindfulness for chronic pain…

So what is it & does it actually work?

Mindfulness is adapted from meditation. It requires you to be aware of what is happening in the present moment without judgment.

Mindfulness involves that you notice your thoughts, feelings & sensations without ‘like or dislike’.

Now bear with me – I can hear you saying:

“You try not to make a judgment about constant pain, unpredictable symptoms & low levels of energy….personally I hate them!”

That is a perfectly natural response but…

We all have the capacity to be mindful.

You simply pay attention to the present moment & disengage from mental clutter.

Mindfulness is proven to have a huge number of health benefits including:

  • reducing pain
  • helping you to fall asleep & improving sleep quality
  • lowering risks of obesity & overeating
  • lowering inflammation & building a stronger immune system
  • improved communication & decision making
  • lowering the stress hormone, cortisol
  • improving depression & anxiety

One study found that 57% of people found that their pain improved with mindfulness.

Mindfulness is also proven to boost your overall sense of well-being.

 

How does mindfulness for chronic pain work?

 

How often do you think about the past or the future?

Maybe you are thinking about that phone call this morning or planning dinner tonight.

Thoughts constantly running through your mind can make you feel tense, stressed or worried. This is especially true if the thoughts dominating your mind are about your pain.

This additional stress can lead to increased cortisol.

Cortisol amplifies the pain signals to your brain so yep… you guessed it…more pain.

It’s a vicious circle.

Pain = stress/anxiety

Stress/anxiety = pain

 

Mindfulness asks us to be attentive to the present moment, the sights, sounds, sensations, thoughts & feelings, without judgment or prejudice.

This awareness of the here & now can reduce your anxiety & therefore your pain.

How do you ‘do’ mindfulness for chronic pain?

You can think of mindfulness as exercises for your brain.

Just like physical exercise – mindfulness is not always easy but it does get easier with practice.

Guided meditations can be a great place to start if you are new to mindfulness.

A guided meditation involves someone taking you through bodily sensations you might not normally notice.

The guidance helps to keep your focus on the present & avoid drifting away to other thoughts.

Guided meditations are freely available all over the internet & even at most local libraries.

If you would like to listen to our free guided meditation just click here.

 

Bringing mindfulness into everyday life

Mindfulness for Chronic PainWhenever you are moving, driving, eating or walking, you can choose to spend these moments thinking about the past or planning the future – or you can bring ‘mind-full’ attention to the current activity.

By being wholeheartedly where you are, you can learn to be connected to whatever is taking place.

The result of this is generally an increased alertness, decreased muscle tension & an increased sense of being able to cope.

A great way to practice daily mindfulness is to incorporate it into daily activities.

When you eat something, chew very slowly. Notice the taste, texture, smell & sensation of eating.

Or when you are in the shower notice the warm sensation falling on your head & down your body. Listen to the sound of the running water.

When thoughts pop into your head think of them as leaves floating away on a stream.

Notice them without judgment, see them as just thoughts or feelings & watch them pass by.

 

Conclusion

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present moment rather than the past or future.

Mindfulness has many proven health benefits including improving sleep, lowering inflammation & improving chronic pain. It is also a great way to relieve stress.

You can think of mindfulness as exercises for your brain.

Although mindfulness is not always easy, it does get easier with practice.

Guided meditations are a great place to start with mindfulness & are freely available from many places.

If you would like our free guided meditation audio just click here.

You can also incorporate mindfulness for chronic pain into your daily activities.

 

Have you tried mindfulness? Do you have a favourite mindful activity?