Linda Ruehlman, PhD is a social/health psychologist and co-founder of Goalistics and director of the Chronic Pain Management Program, an interactive site. While working out in a recent spin class, her instructor suggested that the class “lean into it” when the pedaling became difficult. Ruehlman initially thought the instructor was suggesting that the class change their posture… such as relaxing the shoulders, and hinging at the waist. She soon realized that leaning into it can also be a mindset… one that can help you get through a painful period. Ruehlman has three basic key ideas that can help with pain management:
1. Be aware of your body. We have a tendency to be tense and stiff. Tight, tense muscles can aggravate the pain.
2. Stay calm. We may become afraid and anxious when the pain becomes especially intense. Ruehlman believes a state of anxiety can make the pain worse. Practicing relaxation on a regular basis can help to bring us to a calm state, and five- minute relaxation sessions a few times a day can help you “learn to switch relaxation on as needed.”
3. Quiet your mind. While your mind may never be completely empty of outside thoughts, by practicing to allow thoughts to come and go without engaging them can help you to be mindful of the present.
While it may be challenging to stay calm and quiet during a painful headache, these tips may be a helpful part of the routine you turn to when you are trying to manage one. Ruehlman says…. “Most of what I write about in my pain management blog (http://goalistics.com) is derived from science. But I also find lessons about coping with pain in daily life” Pain Pathways Summer 2012