Stress and pain are inevitable parts of life. As many as 1 in 3 individuals lives with ongoing pain, and everyone is likely to experience it at some point in their life. While you cannot always control what happens to you, you can control how you respond to it. In the face of stress and pain, how you respond will determine the course of both! Humans are hardwired to focus attention pain and to want to escape it. Neuroimaging research and other studies show that focusing attention on pain unwittingly feeds the fire. Worse, not being able to escape pain naturally causes further stress, thereby further stoking the flames.
Rather than feeling trapped, try learning a simple formula to help steer your brain and body away from pain and stress; in doing so you starve the flames of both. Get motivated to help your brain and body respond to pain and stress in a different, more helpful way. Hardwired human biology will work against you until you learn some basic information and skills to take back your control. Gaining confidence in your ability to reduce your own suffering is half the battle. The road to confidence is paved with your daily use of pain and stress management skills. Over time, this new, helpful way of responding becomes your second nature, and suddenly: you got this!
Most people make the understandable mistake of focusing on what they don’t want: pain and stress. But, human physiology doesn’t understand negatives. In the language of the brain, focusing more attention on pain only begets more pain because it lights up regions of the brain associated with pain processing (here’s a technical article). Your solution is to focus your attention more and more on what you do want: peace, calmness, comfort. Doing so actually steers your brain away from pain and fosters calmness in mind and body — the very things you were wanting.
Our article in Time goes into some detail about evidence-based treatments for relief. If it feels like a teaser, you can learn a lot more about harnessing the power of your brain to relieve pain by reading The Opioid-Free Pain Relief Kit, and Less Pain, Fewer Pills: Avoid the Dangers of Prescription Opioids and Gain Control Over Chronic Pain.
Wishing you the best of health!