Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts more than three to six months, or if it persists past the point of tissue healing. Managing it is a lifelong struggle for many people and living with it can trigger stress, anxiety, depression, and lead to insomnia and other issues. Here are some useful tips on how to manage chronic pain from Certified NeurOptimal Trainer, Sara St. John, (standing in photo below) and chronic pain sufferer.
I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel and chronic neck pain three years ago and it's been a roller-coaster in finding the balance for a healthy, pain-free life. Besides staying active with nature walks and gentle yoga, I also explored tools that helped me cope with the pain, such as mindfulness meditation, acupuncture, massage, Epsom Salt baths (during flare-ups). But the most effective tool I found that helped both the actual pain, and the stress around it, has been neurofeedback training with the NeurOptimal system (so much so, that I decided to switch careers and become a trainer myself!)
When I first started with neurofeedback training, I didn't notice much. It was hard to pin-point if it was the training or just me being ultra-relaxed. Crowds in the New York subway and deadlines at work didn't bother me as much. After completing 7-8 sessions I left to visit my family in Sweden and noticed a big shift; my jetlag symptoms was not so bad and switching language from Swedish to English was seamless. I knew then that the training was working and continued consistently for a year (twice per month). During this time I noticed I became more aware in the moment before the pain flared up, thus my stress response decreased and interestingly, my immune system boosted, and I didn't get as frequent colds.
Today, I still have chronic pain, and I do get a cold now and then, but my overall wellness has increased significantly with the NeurOptimal training. Now I don't train as often, but know when I need it. It's like a massage for you brain!
Below are some tips that can help in managing chronic pain. Please feel free to comment below what tools you find helpful in your wellness. To start with neurofeedback training, schedule a session in Northeast LA and Pasadena! If not in Los Angeles, view our other locations here or consider renting a home system.
Tips to manage Chronic Pain:
Change your focus. If you have a flare-up, place your attention on any specific non-painful part of the body (foot, hand, etc.) and change the sensation in that part of the body it will take the mind away from focusing on the source of your pain. For example, imagine your hand warming up, spreading. This will take the mind away from focusing on the source of your pain, such as your back pain. Read more pain management tools here
Stay active. If going to the gym is not possible and can trigger more pain, go for "nature walks" to a nearby park or in your neighborhood, 20 minutes in the morning or before bed. Walking not only keeps your muscles active but it also relieves stress and can improve sleep. Read our ebook on how to improve sleep
Do a body scan. The body scan alternates between a wide and narrow focus of attention; from focusing on your little toe all the way through the entire body. The body scan trains your mind to be able to move from detailed attention to a wider and more spacious awareness from one moment to the next. By getting into a habit of checking in with your body, one will not push yourself into those triggers that causes stress. Gradually you'll know when to take a break, whether that is on the bus or while watching TV.
Learn to meditate. By training ones mind in mindfulness-awareness, one becomes more aware of how you feel before the pain flares up. The great Tibetan Buddhist meditation master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche wrote that meditation is “a means of working with oneself and the phenomenal world.” It is an essential tool to achieve liberation from all suffering, but it also helps with the specific suffering of physical pain. If sitting in a cushion is impossible, try sitting in a chair. Click here for a basic meditation technique.
Last but not least, do neurofeedback sessions. It won't take away all of your pain, but it wil help your brain optimize its functioning around the pain response, including easing the anxiety response around it. We offer the system for rent, and for sessions at these locations, including Pasadena, Los Angeles.
Your Brain Is The Center Of Your Central Nervous System. Why Not Take Care Of It?
Sara provides NeurOptimal sessions in Los Angeles and is also the Rental Manager for the California region for clients who want to rent an advanced home system. She's been a neurofeedback trainer since 2015 and started with NeurOptimal sessions in 2011.
Learn how neurofeedback training can help you and your family, and all training options!
Neurofeedback For Healing - What It Is And Who It Is For?
NeurOptimal's technology uses your brain’s natural ability to learn new things--in this case to learn to use present information, rather than old, habitual information, when making decisions--to improve brain performance. The brain upon learning to use present data knows exactly what needs to happen and will seamlessly re-organize itself to be more efficient and effective. Like a good accountant given the choice between guessing from last year's income and the real information about your income and expenses this year, the brain, and hopefully your accountant, will choose the most recent information. This holistic and non-invasive approach makes NeurOptimal neurofeedback effective and safe for pain.
You don't need a diagnosis to start because it works on the global level of brain functioning. Our biggest customers are individuals with anxiety, families with ADHD, brain injuries and PTSD. It is used by athletes for peak-performance and musicians and those who just want to enhance their brain function. For example, Dave Asprey AKA The Bulletproof Executive in Los Angeles, describes NeurOptimal as the ultimate "biohack" - a tool for maximum human performance". Listen to his podcast with Valdeane Brown, co-founder of NeurOptimal.