Some pain requires medical attention and pain relievers, but some is fleeting and more annoying than anything else. Here are two ways to power through less-intense pain using only your mind.
Photo by r. nial bradshaw.
When the feeling of pain first washes over you, David Tauben, clinical professor in the Department of Pain Medicine at the University of Washington, says it's important to recognise the difference between danger and damage. Damage you can work through, but danger requires immediate medical attention. If you're only dealing with damage, like a stubbed toe, nasty paper cut, or bruised elbow, take a deep breath and calm yourself. Once you're calm, Tauben explains, you can try self-hypnosis:
Think of a nice place where you're safe, and go to that place in your mind's eye. You have to train yourself to be in a calm, comfortable place physically or emotionally and practice that feeling when things are going well, so that when things aren't going well, you can get back to it.
For example, your safe place could be a beach. Think of the smells, the sound of the waves, and the feeling of a gentle sea breeze against your body. The more sense you can bring in the better.
If that doesn't work, distract yourself. Tauben says that active engagement in challenges can help you override the pain you're feeling. Play a game on your phone or dive into some work. As long a it's challenging it will help a bit. Your mind and body switch focus and devote your mental resources to the new experience.
How to Block Out Pain [The New York Times]