How to manage your arthritis pain with meditation

You don't need mind-blowing psychedelic excess to take your brain beyond your pain. You just need to focus on soothing thoughts that are pleasant, calm and engaging. Here are some of the best ways to do it:

How to manage your arthritis pain with meditation

Distract yourself

When pain flares, keep yourself occupied to avoid dwelling on it. Any engaging activity such as reading, working a puzzle, watching TV, visiting friends, working on a craft or going to an artistic performance can help.

If you're stuck with nothing to do, try mind games such as counting backward from 100, listing provincial capitals or remembering the names of all your elementary school teachers.

Meditate

Settle into a comfortable chair in a quiet corner. Then close your eyes. Breathe deeply. Focus your mind on a simple word or phrase tied to your breathing.

Those are the basic elements of meditation, which calm your mind and body and, in turn, ease your arthritis pain.

Take a mental trip

Wherever you go, there you are — but your mind can still be far away: strolling a beach at sunset, saluting the world from a mountaintop or playing care-free in your old childhood home.

To practice the technique known as imagery, picture yourself moving from one vivid setting to another. To engage as much of your brain as possible, focus on these elements:

  • Sensation. Imagine how the soothing rock of a boat in calm waters or the wafting of a gentle breeze on your skin affects your whole body.
  • Smells. Olfactory signals are closely linked with memories and emotions, and are thought to calm the same part of the brain that processes pain.
  • Colours. Vivid hues are not only a feast for the mind's eye, they can also be used to represent your pain. Example: Visualize your pain as a red spot on your body that fades and dissipates as it's the warming rays of the sun strike it.
  • Temperature. Imagined warmth is often more soothing. Imagine yourself in the temperate dawn of a tropical paradise.
  • Setting. Picture yourself in locations you associate with relaxation or happiness — an island, a childhood vacation site or a favourite room.

Give some of these techniques a try if you're interested in using the power of your mind and soothing thoughts to help with your arthritis pain.

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