Once upon a time, you may have only needed to take two aspirin to cure your headache. But over time, you may have found that you had to take more and more aspirin to get relief. Your body builds up a tolerance to the medicine, and it doesn’t work as well as it once did.
Having to take more of some medication can result in harmful consequences. Having to take more of some medications can lead to an addiction that only a stint in prescription drug rehab and a lot of work can help you break. It’s better to find ways to deal with your pain that doesn’t involve medicine so that you can reduce your dependence on pharmaceuticals and lower your risk of addiction.
Here are a few things you can do for pain relief without medicine:
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Pain can make us feel anxious and stressed, and being under stress can make our body tense up and cause us pain. It’s a reinforcing loop that can keep us feeling miserable. You can relieve your pain in part or in full by practicing regular relaxation techniques. Meditation is helpful, as is guided meditation. There are many videos on YouTube that can guide you through these exercises, and there are numerous books available with daily practices. The key to success is engaging in a practice that helps you improve mindfulness and to prevent emotions from being stored in your body.
Know that it can take weeks of practice before you notice any changes from relaxation techniques, and it can be even longer before you notice relief from pain. But once you establish a regular practice, your ability to manage your pain will be much greater.
Find a Good Distraction
Have you ever watched a movie in which one of the female characters was giving birth? You may have noticed that the husband or boyfriend character is there telling her things to take her mind off what’s happening. He might talk to her about that vacation they took in the Bahamas for their anniversary. Or he might start telling her about good news from work. There’s a reason for this: Focusing your mind on something else besides the pain will make the pain feel more tolerable.
There is a mind-body connection, and when you focus on your pain and how miserable you feel, your pain will seem greater and you will feel worse. When you are in pain, you may find relief from distractions like listening to music, watching a good movie, making crafts, spending time with friends, or even doing yard work. Find something that engages your mind, and if you enjoy it, all the better.
Use Sensory Stimulation
The same way that putting your mind on something else can make the pain seem more tolerable, so can changing your focus onto other sensory stimulation. You can use a machine that pulses soft vibrations through your skin, such as a massage pad or chair. You can rest on a heating pad — which will also relieve tension in your muscles and potentially help with pain. You can even wear a rubber band on your wrist and snap it against your skin.
There are a lot of methods for using sensory stimulation, including gentle touch like massage, vibration, tapping, and heat or cold. Explore the different types of stimulation on different parts of your body to find the ones that give you the most pain relief.
Of course, maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help to head off pain before it starts. That includes eating a healthy diet free of things like caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and additives. It also includes drinking plenty of water, getting the right amount of sleep each night, and exercising regularly. Doing these things will make your body strong and healthy, helping it to do the work it needs to do to fight pain and minimizing the risk of problems in the body that cause pain.
Use a combination of these methods to get maximum pain relief, and use medications only when you absolutely need them. Always start with over-the-counter medications on the lowest dose you need and increase them incrementally as needed. Talk with your doctor if the pain is unmanageable or if you suspect you are developing a dependency to medications.