Hypnosis has been used as a reliable pain reduction method for generations. Capable of calming the intensity of both chronic pain and acute pain, hypnosis can be used to take control of pain in a variety of settings. From patients undergoing medical procedures to individuals coping with the effects of the disease (like fibromyalgia) to everyday pain relief in general, research suggests that hypnosis can be a surprisingly powerful pain management tool.
Traditionally, hypnotherapy has meant booking a series of sessions with a pain hypnosis specialist and receiving specialist treatments at their clinic. Free of all the usual drugs and medicine associated with the treatment of pain, hypnotic therapy is considered by many to be a much safer technique than the use of pharmaceuticals.
But what about the potential of Self-hypnosis to bring acute pain and chronic pain conditions under control? Is it possible to reach the same positive outcomes by strategically training your brain to feel less pain at home? Or is it essential to attend formal sessions at a hypnotic therapy practice with experts who know how to hypnotize you and pay for the treatments on offer?
Learning to Relax With Hypnosis
First things first, it’s important to acknowledge the fact that hypnosis for pain is not about training your body and brain to no longer feel pain. Instead, hypnosis and self-hypnosis are both focused on achieving outcomes wherein your feelings and anxiety regarding pain are altered dramatically. This is why hypnosis for anxiety really works.
This way, the symptoms and sensations associated with pain may see a significant reduction, as you redirect your attention away from the unpleasantness of pain and focus on something else. Pain hypnotherapy is therefore predominantly a relaxation exercise, wherein strategic relaxation techniques are used to shift your focus elsewhere.
A traditional hypnosis session lasts around 20 minutes, during which the practitioner will first focus on your breathing and work to put you in a deep state of relaxation. They will then instruct you to imagine a comfortable and reassuring place, before giving a detailed description of it. For example, you may picture a beach or a tranquil countryside setting, which while describing it will naturally trigger the brain’s positive emotional response.
This is essentially where the idea of hypnosis therapies for the relief of pain lies. If you manage to shift your thoughts and your focus to something pleasant (like the sights, sounds, and sensations of being on a beach), your mind has less capacity to focus on pain and discomfort.
It’s not that the sensation of pain will simply disappear, but the relaxation and focused thought associated with hypnosis and positive mental imagery can bring welcome relief.
Making the Most of Hypnosis Takes Time
In both instances, self-hypnosis and hypnotic therapy performed in a clinical setting are tools that take practice to perfect. However modest or ambitious your goals may be, it takes time to convince yourself that hypnosis may help to an even greater extent than more traditional approaches to pain management. One example is hypnosis for sleep which can bring huge benefits with chronic pain treatment.
Patients with chronic pain conditions in particular are often reluctant to turn to hypnosis to bring their symptoms under control. Having tried most of the available conventional options and found little relief, they naturally make the assumption that positive results through something as simple as a hypnotic suggestion are most likely impossible.
In practice, hypnotic therapy often picks up where conventional pain management methods leave off. It may not be suitable for every patient and every condition, but it is nonetheless considered a safe alternative to traditional medical approaches to relieving pain and is therefore worth trying out.
Does Self-Hypnosis Really Work for Chronic Pain?
There are those who believe that the future of therapies involving hypnosis lies in self-administered hypnosis. From headaches to toothache to body pain after training and exercising, millions of people already use controlled breathing and focus exercises to reduce discomfort.
Understandably, the prospect of switching from conventional medications and therapies to self-hypnosis with the goal of bringing unpleasant symptoms under control can be daunting. Nevertheless, achieving a reduction in pain and discomfort at home without any training (or the intervention of a professional therapist) can be surprisingly simple.
Each of the following is a tried, tested and trusted approach to managing acute and chronic pain – easy to attempt and definitely worth considering:
1. Find a Quiet Spot
The crux of self-hypnosis lies in finding a quiet and secluded spot, taking control of your breathing, and coming up with a “trigger” to help you fall into a deep state of relaxation. Not to such an extent as to send you to sleep, but enough to proactively propel your mind to a more positive place. For obvious reasons, attempting to get yourself into a hypnotic trance is not something to do while in control of anything hazardous – cars and kids included!
2. Picture a Bright Light
Mental imagery holds the key to successful hypnosis, which begins by thinking about placing your body where the discomfort is being felt and picturing it surrounded by a soothing, warming, and comforting white light. Keep this image and suggestion in your mind continuously, until you begin filling a noticeable reduction in the sensation – even if it is relatively modest at first.
3. Create Your Own Hypnotic Mantra
It’s all about mind over matter with hypnosis, which is easier to accomplish when you come up with your own unique hypnotic mantra. While it can understandably feel a little weird at first, the mantra you pick will soon enough become a major part of your psychological pain management program at home. For example, you could say “I breath in and out deeply three times, I am free of stress and I am relaxed” or something to that effect.
4. Practice How to Relax
Properly relaxing doesn’t come easy to some – especially those living with challenging conditions like fibromyalgia and chronic muscle pains. You need to practice regularly, which involves relaxing your muscles from head to toe and also relaxing your mind. As soon as you have achieved a deep state of relaxation, set a reminder – aka a “trigger”. It could be something as simple as putting your thumb and index finger together, which eventually will become something you can do at any time of day to feel a calming and soothing sensation on demand.
5. Pay Attention to Your Body
One of the biggest issues associated with chronic pain is identifying the exact origins of the pain and discomfort. With hypnosis, you have the opportunity to carefully and intensively focus on each individual area of your body, one by one. You focus on your breathing, you enter a deep state of relaxation and you begin assessing how each part of your body feels. You pay attention to each individual area with greater focus than you otherwise would have, helping you identify where the sensation of pain is coming from.
6. Learn How to Refocus
The human brain is a fantastic piece of biological engineering, but nonetheless has surprisingly limited capacity when it comes to focusing on two things at the same time. This, therefore, means that the more your mind is focused on the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations associated with a sunny day at the beach, the less time it has to remind you of the pain you’re experiencing. It’s not a form of alternative analgesia – it’s simply a way of keeping your mind busy.
7. Picture Positive Results
Of course, you also need to believe in the pain reduction capacity of hypnotherapy for it to work, while convincing yourself at all times that it is delivering positive results. You need to drill the suggestion into your mind that each and every day you are making improvements in your life – even if they are relatively modest in nature. If you let your optimism slip and allow pessimism to creep into the equation, it is likely to prove counterproductive.
8. Master the Art of Breathing
Lastly, there is little more important when it comes to hypnotherapy treatments in general than learning how to breathe properly. The overwhelming majority of people ‘puff’ air in and out of their bodies from the upper area of the chest. For self-hypnosis to be most effective, you need to train yourself to breathe more slowly and deeply from the stomach. You take a deep and relaxing breath in, followed by a soothing breath out that expels pain, anxiety, and discomfort. Each breath takes these positive feelings a step further, as you focus on relaxation and wellbeing.
A Welcome Break…
In addition to the above, psychological approaches to the relief of pain and discomfort like these also give you the opportunity to temporarily put your mind at ease. Rather than spending every waking moment worrying about your condition, focusing on your discomfort, and scouring the web so weird and wonderful remedies, you take a welcome break from the whole thing.
This alone can make a major difference and may help you achieve your objectives, as you begin to focus on what really matters rather than the things you have no direct control over.