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Can meditation help with chronic pain?

Sustaining an injury at work can come with numerous lifelong consequences. You may lose your job, have to find employment that accommodates your injury or not be able to work again at all. The ensuing lost wages and medical expenses hurt your finances. Perhaps most challenging is the continuous physical suffering you experience.

You may have tried multiple treatments and medications to ease chronic pain. Whether or not they have proved beneficial, there is something else you should try: mindfulness. Recent scientific studies have found that this type of meditation is very effective at managing pain.

What is mindfulness?

You may have a stereotypical image when you think of meditation, but there are different ways to practice it. Mindfulness, as the name suggests, means to be self-aware and entails being in the present without judging your thoughts and feelings. Common mindfulness exercises include the following:

  • Breathing deeply
  • Focusing on specific body parts or breath
  • Naming present emotions
  • Paying attention to bodily sensations
  • Doing yoga

It is relevant and doable regardless of lifestyle, religion or ability.

How does mindfulness decrease pain?

Human nature encourages turning away from pain, but allowing it and exploring it can be the very things that reduce and eliminate it. How you process the pain signals sent to your brain determines how severe you feel the pain to be. Changing your mental process can therefore change your perception of pain, says Psychology Today. For example, anxiety can increase pain intensity and vice versa. Managing anxiety, therefore, will decrease pain, and less pain will lead to a reduction in anxiety. 

Mindfulness also improves your mental health. Chronic pain unsurprisingly can trigger depression, and the workplace accident that caused the injury may have resulted in PTSD. Mindfulness meditation helps manage these mental illnesses. The practice is completely safe, though it can be challenging, and can save you costs on health care and drugs, as well as avoid harmful side effects.

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