Many people suffering from chronic pain become isolated and are left with nothing to focus on but their pain and misery. Learning to fill their minds with pleasant thoughts help lessen their distress. Recently, researchers have systematically evaluated several different kinds of distraction strategies for dealing with pain. A review done at
University of Pittsburgh Pain Evaluation and Treatment Institute concluded that the distraction approaches can be classified into five groups. All of these have been found to be effective for mild- to-moderate pain. These are:
- Pleasant images - Conjure up peaceful, pain-free visions.
- Dramatized images - Envision situations that use the pain as part of the script (for example, imagining that you are a wounded spy trying to escape your captors).
- Neutral images - Think of your plans for the weekend.
- Focusing on the environment - Instead of paying attention to your body,
count the ceiling tiles or plan how to redecorate the room, etc.
- Rhythmic activity - Example: Counting,
Researchers at University of Pittsburgh have also concluded that:
"Although none of these coping strategies was consistently more effective than any other, the imagery strategies collectively seemed to be more effective than other strategies that included no imagery. The more the individuals are able to become involved in the mental image, the more useful it is as a distractor. Vivid, detailed images, involving as many senses as possible, seem to work best."
Imagery is not a substitute for more active ways of coping with pain. But it can be a valuable part of an overall plan to manage pain.
Related Topic: Mind-Body Approaches,
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