Guided imagery and chronic pain management

Guided imagery can help you manage pain.

July 22, 2018 - Author: Sheilah Hebert, Michigan State University Extension

For those who live with chronic pain, the pain may affect their social, emotional and physical aspects of their lives. Dealing with chronic pain requires a full toolbox and a powerful tool that is available for use is meditation. Meditation sends a quiet message to the muscles and mind to relax, draining the tension out of the body leading to a reduction in pain. There are various types of meditation and Michigan State University Extension offers several classes to educate on chronic pain and managing it. One method that MSU Extension often discusses is guided imagery.

Guided imagery is an easy relaxation technique that can help you quickly and easily manage stress and reduce tension in your body. Guided imagery relies on the concept that your body and mind are strongly connected. Our bodies react strongly to things we imagine. As an example, image a lemon’s smell, taste and other features. Even though there is no lemon present, many people begin to salivate as they think of the lemon. You can use this power to help manage chronic pain with your mind.

Here is how to get started with guided imagery. First, make yourself comfortable. Begin with some deep breathing. Picture yourself in the calmest, most relaxing place you can think of. As you imagine this environment, concentrate on the scene with all of your senses. What does it look like? How does it feel? Do you smell or hear anything special? This place may be different for everyone.

Let your mind take you to this special spot, enjoy your surroundings and separate yourself from whatever stresses you. Stay as long as you like. When you feel ready to come back, return slowly, bringing those feelings of peace and contentment with you. When you return, you will feel refreshed, like returning from a mini-vacation, but you did not even have to leave the room.

Tags: chronic disease, msu extension

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