Guided imagery and chronic pain management

Guided imagery to help manage pain

Chronic pain affects every aspect of the lives of people living with it. Dealing with chronic pain requires a full toolbox. A powerful tool that is available for all to use is meditation. Meditation sends a quiet message to the muscles and mind to relax, draining the tension out of the body leading to a reduction in pain. There are various types of meditation. Michigan State University Extension offers several classes to educate on chronic pain and managing it. One method we will look at today is guided imagery.

Guided imagery is an easy relaxation technique that can help you quickly and easily manage stress and reduce tension in your body. Guided imagery relies on the concept that your body and mind are strongly connected. Our bodies react strongly to things we imagine. An example of this is when you imagine a lemon - the smell, the taste. Even though there is no lemon present many people begin to salivate as they think of the lemon. You can use this power to help manage chronic pain with your mind.

Here’s how to get started with guided imagery. First, make yourself comfortable. Begin with some deep diaphragmatic breathing. Picture yourself in the calmest, relaxing place you can think of. As you imagine this environment, concentrate on the scene with all of your senses. What does it look like? How does it feel? Do you smell or hear anything special? This place may be different for everyone. One person, it may be a secluded beach, where others it may be a crowded city scene.

Let your mind take you to this special spot, enjoy your surroundings and let yourself be separated from whatever stresses you. Stay as long as you like. When you feel ready to come back, return slowly, bringing those feelings of peace and contentment with you. When you return, you’ll feel refreshed, like returning from a mini-vacation, but you didn’t even have to leave the room.

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