5 Ways Your Brain Can Take Away Your Pain

LaughterIf you suffer from chronic pain like rheumatoid arthritis, when you have a flare up, the first and only thing on your mind is probably the fastest and most effective way to relieve your pain. While there are plenty of physical pain alleviators, your mind can help too. Not only do these mental exercises help to trick your body into feeling better at the moment of a pain flare, but they can also build up your resistance to pain over time. The best part is, you can practice this mind over matter whenever and wherever you are.

  1. Positive Thinking: Though it’s common and understandable why chronic pain sufferers may feel down in the dumps and tend toward negative thinking, your mind is a part of your body and therefore negative thoughts can negatively impact the body and exacerbate pain. Try to avoid catastrophic thinking especially and focus on thoughts that are positive. Fortunately, you have control over your thoughts and practicing positive thinking just gets easier with time. If you’re having trouble switching your thoughts, studies have found that cognitive therapy can help.
  2. Listening to Music: When your pain is at its worst, try putting on your headphones and tuning in to your favorite music. Music not only distracts the mind away from pain, but it can also induce happiness and lower stress which can make pain worse. In fact, studies have even found “listening to music for one hour over one week subdued pain, depression, and disability while increasing feelings of power.”
  3. Writing: You can be your own therapist when you take up the habit of writing down your thoughts and feelings. Many chronic pain sufferers feel isolated because it seems that no one around them can truly understand what they’re going through. Writing down these thoughts and feelings will get them out of your head and will even help you work through obstacles and look at your thoughts from a new perspective. Writing has even been shown to enhance immune function. James W. Pennebaker, PhD, a leading researcher in the field, suggests writing for 15 minutes before bed for three or four days a week.
  4. Tap into Your Creativity: A study of cancer patients showed that pain and anxiety were greatly reduced when the patients had time to play with art supplies including clay, glitter, glue, yarn, beads and colored pencils. Flexing your creative muscles can boost confidence and self-esteem that is often lost in people who experience chronic pain. A regular creative practice can also lower pain-inducing stress.
  5. Laughing: It turns out, the saying “fake it ‘til you make it” may do some good in the pain department. Studies show that smiling, even if it’s a forced smile, may almost immediately improve your mood. And laughing releases endorphins, which are pleasure chemicals in your brain. The more pleasure and happiness you feel, the more resistant you will be to pain.


Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

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Image Credit: Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Cathy Stanley-Erickson.

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