The first step in getting well is to understand how your beliefs and emotional responses have contributed to your illness.
The next step is to find a way to influence those responses in your treatment using mental imagery, and creating positive beliefs that will activate your body's defences against your pain.
For many people suffering from chronic pain, your body has become the enemy. It has let you down by becoming ill and threatening your lifestyle. You start to feel alienated from it and mistrust its ability to get better.
Learning to relax and influence the body can help people accept their condition and their ability to work with it towards a better life.
Relaxation can also help in reducing fear of your condition, which at times can be over-whelming when you are going through a bad patch.
You feel terrified that this is how you will have to lead your life, in pain. The problem is that such fears can actually make it impossible for some patients to develop any positive expectancy about their life in pain.
But, learning to relax can physically help you to break the cycle of tension and fear.
Many patients who have used relaxation techniques report that they have a completely different perspective and renewed energy. It appears to be a way of recharging their batteries with the fear reduced. It is then easier to develop a more positive expectancy, resulting in a further decrease in pain and fear.
The type of relaxation that I am talking about is not spending time in front of the television, although this can be very relaxing. What I mean is mental images designed to calm the mind, with a certain amount of meditation and progressive relaxation and self-hypnosis.
I will cover the relaxation technique in another post.