Chronic pain has been referred to as a the world’s silent epidemic. In fact, it’s so “silent,” you might be shocked to know just how prevalent it is.
According to the latest statistics, as many as 80 million American adults have experienced pain lasting more than 24 hours. In the UK, the numbers are similar. Two-fifths of UK adults experience chronic pain. And it affects many millions more around the world.
How do you treat chronic pain? Well, drugs have traditionally been the most commonly prescribed treatment option. Yet, more and more people are asking:
Is there are a drug-free alternative that can provide immediate and lasting pain relief?
We’ve got one for you: Self-hypnosis. Hypnosis can be a wonderful pain reliever – we’ve written about that before. But with self-hypnosis, you don’t need a hypnotherapist or a recording. You can guide yourself into hypnosis in your own home – right now.
And it just may offer immediate relief.
A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Utah looked at how hypnosis could reduce pain in the short-term. The participants in the study had come to the hospital reporting “intolerable pain” and difficulty controlling pain. The researchers then prescribed hypnosis to one group, as well as mindfulness and pain coping strategies to others.
In the hypnosis group, 29 percent experienced immediate pain reduction (as well as a decreased desire for opioid medication). In other words, hypnosis was as effective at reducing pain as a small dose of a narcotic painkiller.
More interestingly, that was the effect after just a single hypnosis session.
In studies that have looked at long-term hypnotherapy treatments, the percentage of participants who experienced significant reductions in pain rises.
For example, a 2015 study found that roughly 50 percent of people suffering from chronic back pain experienced relief lasting more than six months. And a comprehensive review of research conducted that hypnosis could provide long-term and shorter lasting results.
So how can you get started with self-hypnosis right now? Well, it’s a lot easier than you might think. But first, it’s important to take a step back and learn about what self-hypnosis is and how it helps with pain management.
Then, you’ll be ready to give it a try right now – in a quiet corner of your home.
What Is Self-Hypnosis?
Self-hypnosis, in the simplest terms, is hypnosis that is self-induced. You follow a script that helps you relax the body and mind, and after following a few steps, you reach a day dream-like trance state.
Once you reach this state, the body is very relaxed, and the mind is tuned in and hyper-aware. If you’ve ever practiced meditation, it feels similar — almost like you’re dreaming but yet fully aware. You can wake up at any time, and you’re in complete control of your thoughts.
When we relax in this way, though, a significant change happens in the brain.
You can think of it like opening a portal to the subconscious – that area of the brain, which controls many of our attitudes, thoughts and beliefs. It’s the part of the brain that very often drives us to act.
The subconscious is also where we create a lot of our perceptions about stimuli. If we instantly like a movie, for instance, that was the subconscious making an instant decision to pay attention and tune in. Pain, in a way, is like the movie. It delivers constant stimuli to the subconscious, and asking the brain to make a decision. This, often, is where we develop our perception of the intensity of pain, our beliefs about how long it will last or if we can find relief.
Hypnosis gives us direct access to this part of the brain. And we can start to reprogram how it responds to stimuli. We do this by offering the mind positive, helpful suggestions, while in a trance.
Hypnotic suggestions allow us to unseat and remove automatic thoughts, beliefs and patterns of thinking that intensify and force us to think about the pain that we’re feeling.
With self-hypnosis, we do all of this by ourselves. We follow techniques to relax and turn off the noise in the mind, we reach a trance and talk ourselves deeper into it, and then we provide the positive suggestions that can help us change how we perceive and react to pain.
Releasing Pain with Self-Hypnosis
Alright, so now you have a general idea of how self-hypnosis works. But can you really alter your perception of pain, just by providing some suggestions?
The answer, for many, is yes.
Hypnosis allows us to immediately alter our mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and reduce pain intensity. We’re able to do this in a few ways. Using hypnosis for pain management, we can help the mind think differently (or not at all) about the pain we feel, and there are four general ways we can do it.
Have you ever been so deep into a thought that you forget your freeway exit? Or you accidently cut your finger while chopping onions. In the moment, we’re often so distracted with stopping the bleeding – we forget how much it hurts. The pain comes after we’ve wrapped it with a paper towel.
Using self-hypnosis, we can train the mind to distract itself from the intensity of pain. We might suggest that the subconscious thinks of a pain-free time in our lives, or thinks about another pain-free part of the body. As a result, we can’t hyper-focus on the pain and how intense it is – which is a powerful method for helping to reduce pain.
Distraction can be effective for short-term and immediate pain relief.
When we use reframing, we feed the subconscious with suggestions about how to perceive pain. For example, many chronic pain sufferers describe their pain as a “burning” feeling. Using self-hypnosis, we can begin to alter this description – from burning, to a feeling of warmth, and ultimately, to a cool sensation.
Often, for labor pain, a hypnotherapist might suggest to the subconscious that the feeling isn’t pain to discomfort, or pressure. Some reframing techniques ask the mind to think differently about the pain in a more abstract way, i.e. not that it has control over our lives, but that it is something that happens in the background that we tune into, for example.
Reframing works well long-term, as it may take multiple sessions to alter how the subconscious perceives and responds to pain. But over time, it can be a very helpful tool for reducing intense pain.
When we guide ourselves into a deep trance, we can begin to work with sensory information. For example, a common hypnotherapy technique might require you to imagine your hand in ice-cold water. We can take that further and further, until, in your trance state, you perceive that your hand is actually numb.
Once this happens, you might visualize that numbness moving to where you feel pain. This technique – although advanced – does help to dull or numb the pain entirely. But it requires the right script, and can take time to master.
Finally, we have dissociation. With dissociation, we ask ourselves to separate the pain or ourselves from the body. We visualize ourselves across the room, watching ourselves. Or visualize the area of our low back that’s in pain, as floating behind ourselves.
It sounds abstract, but just try it for a moment. Imagine you’re sitting across the room, watching yourself reading this.
Did you notice a difference? Did you feel calmer, or more grounded? Where you able to break your focus from your pain?
Dissociation can be a helpful tool, but like numbing, it takes time to master.
But over time, you’ll become proficient in the technique, and you can begin to use it – not just for pain – but when you feel anxiety, stress, when you feel a lack of motivation. The technique can instantly calm the mind.
Does Self-Hypnosis Work for Pain Management?
We’ve already highlighted a few studies that suggest hypnosis can be a useful tool for managing pain – in both the short and long terms. In fact, you may experience certain immediate benefits for a single hypnosis session like:
- A sense of calm and clarity in the mind
- Feeling your mood elevated
- A reduction in pain
- Reduced anxiety and stress
Some are lucky, and these benefits stick. Others, though, require self-hypnosis more frequently for long-lasting benefits. And that’s really the key of a self-hypnosis program — consistency.
How can you stay consistent? Here are a few tips to keep you on track:
- Find a spot and time: Find a quiet corner of your home, with a comfortable chair. Make sure you can dim the lights. This is your hypnosis corner. Also, be sure you find a time – it doesn’t need to be precise – each day, during which you will practice self-hypnosis.
- Start Slowly: You’ll find as you progress that you enjoy staying a deep trance. But early on, try it in smaller bits. For starters, this will help you stay consistent. Plus, it can also help prevent you from getting overwhelmed.
- Use a Good Script: Self-hypnosis requires you to follow a script or pain hypnosis recording. This will show you how to relax, how to tune your breathing, and ultimately, what your suggestions will be. Find scripts from practicing hypnotherapists, or reputable hypnosis organizations.
- Record Your Progress: You might very well experience gradual changes in how you perceive pain, and how intense it is. Keep a notebook handy. Write how you feel before and after, and take down any changes you experience. This can help you stay focused and on track.
- Keep Learning: Finally, you don’t need any experience to try self-hypnosis. You can do it right now. But over time, you may want to learn more advanced techniques to continue your progress. Online courses, books, and hypnotherapy apps are wonderful tools.
Get Started with Self-Hypnosis Today
You can reduce your pain and feel relief. And you can do it right now! Start your journey with self-hypnosis with Grace Space. We offer a number of tools to help you try hypnosis right now, in the comfort of your own home.