When the brain is in severe alarm, pain feels extreme. It can feel almost impossible to calm down or stop your racing circular thoughts. Your sympathetic system is in overdrive and the body wants to fight, flee, or freeze. These tools can help. Use them whenever you have severe pain or worrying thoughts or shame or anger. Do this at least 10 times a day. It is a great mindfulness tool and takes 30 seconds.
Do these techniques if you are thinking too much (‘brain worms’) or you notice fiddling, twitching, or worrying. In the beginning you may have to do this 1000 times a day. I know I did! If you want to know how and why this works, see the notes lower down in Purple.
Try the 5 point Grounding Technique. It works better if you say the objects out loud.
5 – look around and if possible say out loud 5 things you can see
4 – listen for 4 things you can hear – say out loud again if you can
3 – three things you can touch. Touch them and name them.
2 – things you can smell. Reach for something to smell and name it.
1 – one thing you taste. If you can’t taste anything, awaken your sense by even tasting your skin or something else.
Another effective way to relieve stress is by standing and marching with arms vigorously
You can lift your legs – even while sitting – and tap each knee or leg with the opposite hand.
Practice the ventral vagal breath (abdominal breath) on Step 2
Do this when you have pain or when you are overthinking /worrying
I possible – right palm on the heart and left on the lower belly.
Even better – get a breathing buddy. Watch the person. The shoulders and chest should be relaxed and the lower belly moving out as it fills with breath and back to the spine with out breath.
Writing every day twice a day in the morning and the evening is very good for rewiring the brain. Here is a link to explain how it works, written by David Hanscom who is an orthopedic surgeon and osteopath.
Sit or lie in bed pen or pencil and paper. Scribble your thoughts down for 15 minutes, then rip up or throw the paper away. You can write anything down. Don’t worry about grammar.
These techniques, and the super brain yoga, help to develop connections between the left logical and the right emotional brain.
The super brain yoga can be done in a chair. Please make sure the knees are not too bent. You should be able to see your toes.
These techniques are used to rewire the brain. When there is severe pain or anxiety/panic attacks, we know the limbic system or alarm brain is taking over your brain. It is like a 2 or 3 year toddler having a temper tantrum. You can’t use reason to lower the alarm. It doesn’t work on the alarm brain. These techniques give you distance from the alarm brain. They put the alarm brain in its place. Eventually, the alarm brain will occupy less energy and ‘space.’ It won’t take over your brain.
You can look at this video to see how the brain can be rewired.
After 3 months, we know the pain is now stuck in the alarm brain. Don’t believe the messages that the alarm brain is sending. The alarm brain sends out messages of injury when the injury is long healed. For example, 90 to 95% of back pain is from the alarm brain. Don’t feed the alarm brain by listening to these messages. Choose messages of safety! Tell your alarm brain that you are safe. The alarm brain is very powerful and every accident you have or injury you have can feed it. Take away its power with all these techniques above and below.
Sit with your head forward, and, without moving your head, move your eyes from one side of to the other. If you are in a room, focus on the ceiling corners, from one side to the other. If you are outside, look up and to each side as far as your eyes will go, left to right.
You can place a hand on your belly and one on your heart while doing this. Notice your breath. Don’t try to control it, just notice. Notice your body and all the sensations in your body.
This is a technique from EMDR therapy. If you feel worse, stop it immediately.
Try a meditation tape or some You Tube videos.
There are many apps for anxiety. Give them a go. Try the ones that work for you.
Have a look at the On line resources.
Talk to a loved one
Exercise is great for pain – emotional and physical.
Sleep is essential to manage chronic pain. Here is a 13 minute exercise that you can shorten if you want to. It is fabulous for sleep.
Finally – Ride the wave. Know you will feel better again.