Our mindfulness programs are part of our efforts to reduce opioid use to treat chronic pain. Alternative methods like mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) supplement other medical procedures in our pain management programs.
They help patients look at pain in a different way than they usually would. Instead of looking at it as something to fear and remedy, MBIs help the patient view pain as something to explore. Mindfulness is a mental exercise —not a pill or an invasive medical procedure.
When a patient learns to use mindfulness, they can do so at no cost and with no associated side effects. There is scientific evidence that MBIs such as meditation or yoga can improve a patient’s quality of life by lowering the perception of pain. This can increase mobility and functionality in the affected areas. MBIs can improve treatment outcomes and potentially decrease the use of prescription medications when used properly by healthcare providers.
Mindfulness helps the patient focus on the present moment with full attention. It helps the patient look at pain in a more abstract way. This discourages analyzing or judging the pain by its severity. It also helps patients overcome feelings of regret and future worries about the implications of living with chronic pain.
Mindful exercises for beginners include:
- Pay attention: Slow down and experience your environment with all your senses. This can be hard at first but gets easier with practice. For example, stop at a forested area in the Fall. Take note of the different species of trees. See which ones are shedding leaves. Notice the colours of the forest.
- Live in the moment: Try to bring undivided attention to everything you do, and try to find joy in simple pleasures.
- Accept yourself: Realize that you are important and accept yourself as you are. Be your own good friend.
- Focus on your breathing: Whenever you have negative thoughts or a panicking over any change, sit down and take a deep breath. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing for a minute. This method is commonly used to calm people with anxiety.
At PCC, we educate patients on both basic and structured mindfulness techniques either individually or in groups.
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