In spite of all our efforts to get out of pain, when it persists, with it comes with feelings of despair, helplessness and hopelessness. Why try anymore when nothing seems to work?

But there is hope. These ten proven ways can stop pain before it stops you. Those who have used these skills, in combination with support, have had astounding success. Permanent relief from pain was reported by more than 85% of those using these methods.

1. Breathing – Conscious Regular Breathing Will Help

Conscious breathing is the bridge between mind and body. When we begin to breathe consciously beyond the constricted, limited rhythms of pain, we begin to take charge of our healing in a new way. One way to change your pain experience is to focus your breath when you notice that your stress and/or pain levels are starting to increase.

Try a simple experiment right now. Think of something stressful from your day and notice how your body reacts. Is there tension, tightness, aching, or some other sensation? Then take just one breath, an easy inhale, noticing with your mind how that feels in your body, and then as you exhale, notice where your breath travels in your body. What has changed in just one breath? What happens to the constriction or discomfort?

2. Feeling – A Shift in Feeling Focus Can Stimulate the Body’s Inclination to Self-Healing, Balance and Harmony

There are easy to learn ways to feel your pain and other sensations that can give you the information for both relief and healing. It’s natural to be afraid of pain and to avoid feeling as much of it as possible. Yet a shift in focus can help you turn on the body’s automatic inclination toward self-healing, balance, harmony and comfort. Try these five steps.

A. Take a few moments connecting with your body, following your breath in and out and ask, “What in my body wants my attention right now?”

B. Select one concern or issue to focus on, paying attention to where the body feels the issue.

C. Discover the “handle”, a key word or image that comes from the felt sense itself. The “handle” may come from the language of sensation, like “tight,” “heavy,” “tingling,” rather than our thoughts, conclusions, and judgments. For example, “My jaw feels tight like a tight rubber band (the handle).

D. Resonate – Go back and forth for a few moments between the feeling in your body and the “handle,” asking, “How well do they seem to fit together?” For example, shift back and forth between the tightness in your jaw and the handle “tight rubber band.” You may find sensations begin to shift. If that worked for you, choose another area – this time one of moderate discomfort and repeat steps 2-4.

E. Tune in further to your body feelings using the “handles” or key words you have found to perceive further information – allowing you to experience a shifting of the felt sense of your concern or issue. Be open to whatever information that comes and perhaps write down what you understand about your body now that you did not understand before.

3. RelaxationRelaxation is Simply One of the Best Ways to Reverse the Course of Your Pain Condition

Relaxation is a state of physical and emotional calm and rest when your muscles are relatively free of tension. It is an experience of little or no anxiety, stress, or irritability. It is the opposite of the “fight-flight-freeze” response. Relaxation makes other pain relief techniques work better. Learning to relax is a must especially for people in pain.

Learning to surrender to relaxation or some other way of letting go of tension, instead of surrendering to pain, is a worthwhile endeavor.
Whenever we cultivate relaxation that is truly restful and replenishing, we gain the benefits of successfully resisting our resistance. If we learn to stop resisting pain, we also learn to turn away from reacting to pain as an external enemy to fight again or run away from.

There are many relaxation methods to explore. Perhaps a structured breathing or meditation practice is best for you. For some people, learning to tense and release muscles seems to remind the body to relax and let go of tightness and tension. To try this briefly, intentionally tighten one part of your body by making a fist, tensing one foot, or some other body location that does not create more pain. How does that feel to you? Hold this place tightly and then when you’re ready, gradually let go of this tension a little bit each time as you exhale. What is the result?

4. Imagine – Imagine Changing Your Pain by Changing the Images and Beliefs About Pain in Your Mind

Imagery involves the right hemisphere of the brain as well as the left. While the logical left brain seems to understand by analyzing sequentially and taking things apart, the right brain synthesizes, putting many things together simultaneously. These “two brains” process information very differently. Because the right brain tends to see the “big picture” or larger context, its intelligence can help us understand how our pain or illness might be related to events, other experiences, and feelings that we might not have considered with our left brains.

Imagery has been credited for reducing anxiety, depression, cholesterol, blood loss, length of hospital stay, and for enhancing immune function, the healing process from fractures, wounds, and burns, and stimulating comfort during medical procedures and motor response after strokes.

Take a little time now to envision what your life will be like when your pain drops a couple of points on your 10 point pain scale (where 10=unbearable pain) and stays in that lower range consistently. With that kind of reliable change, how do you imagine that your life will be different? Your work? Your physical activities? Your personal relationships? Practice clarifying and focusing your vision and see how your image of a life with less pain changes over time.

5. Observe and Be Mindful

When we have severe pain, it may seem impossible to think and feel anything else. Yet mindful awareness can help us give up useless struggles to fight against pain and instead become aware of the totality of our experience at any given moment. Mindfulness requires us to slow down and observe all that is happening. This practice can interrupt our habitual or instinctual ways of reacting to pain and open the doors of mind and body, spirit and heart, to create new responses.

To try a simple mindfulness practice exercise, take a few moments to clear the space around you of distractions. Begin by becoming mindful of the pathways through which your breath moves in and out without trying to change anything. Then simply allow yourself as you take the next breathe in, to move into a new moment with what is called “beginner’s mind.” What is the world of this new moment like? What do you feel in your body? What thoughts go through your mind? What rhythms or moments are you aware of? What sounds or images? When this step feels relatively complete, gather up all of your awarenesses as you take a breath in, and hold what’s in this moment along with your breath, and then when you’re ready let go of that moment along with your breath. Then as you take the next breath in, move into the next new moment and repeat the process. After 4-5 breath cycles, what is different? How might you include some type of mindful practice in your daily self-care plan?

6. Energize – Use Your Body’s Energy to Reduce Pain

The emerging field of Energy Psychology offers more and more hope and tools based on the natural resources inherent in our bodies' energy systems.

There are energy healing techniques that address the body’s flow of energy along meridians, like acupuncture; ones that address the body’s energy centers, called chakras; and energy technique that address the bio field, the electromagnetic field surrounding and interacting with the body.

Emotional Freedom Technique, EFT, seems to combine two approaches to healing, meridian therapy technique and a mind body healing perspective.

To explore EFT for yourself, go to There you will find videos, articles, and can download a free manual which will teach you how to learn and practice this simple, highly efficient healing approach. Many of my clients use it to manage their pain symptoms and also to work with the anxiety, fear, anger, grief, and other stressful emotions that accompany pain.

7. Move Your Body – Movement Promotes Healing

One of the strongest desires many people in ongoing pain express is the wish to move freely. Constriction and pain can be formidable barriers. Pain professionals strongly recommend exercise as an important part of treatment and it really is possible to make movement a fun, meet-able challenge that promotes more complete healing. During your next workday, try taking “movement breaks” instead of coffee breaks? What difference does this make?

8. Connect – Become Present With Where You Are Now

In order to connect in productive ways with our full selves, which includes the body of course, we must cultivate the experience of presence. Being present means finding ways to bring your being—body, mind, heart and spirit—to the present moment, to become fully aware of what’s going on around you and inside you, without judgment. Here are some questions to connect you with the present.

A. Where am I in relation to my body?
B. What draws my attention in my body?
C. What am I thinking?
D. What is the quality of my breathing?

9. Love – Positive Attachment Experiences Bring Pain Relief

Recently, scientific examination of the experience of love has become more common, especially the biochemical aspects of interpersonal love. Multiple studies point to the importance of oxytocin, which is linked to anti-stress patterns and pain relief, as the binding chemical for love. Another study showed that oxytocin injections can reduce pain thresholds, exert an anti-anxiety effect, and stimulate positive social interactions. We know oxytocin is released in positive attachment experiences. So part of healing pain is to generate and develop as many of these nurturing and supportive relationships as possible. Experiences of touch and warmth, such as hugs and cuddling, and massage can all impact pain.

Perhaps in the near future, oxytocin may become available as evidence based pain treatment. In the meanwhile, experiment with creating a variety of loving attachment experiences that include touch like hugs and cuddling. How do these affect your pain levels?

10. Build – Keep on Practicing

Part of ongoing practice involves becoming skilled at discerning what resonates most completely with your full self and practicing until you have created new mind-body pathways that link to comfort and strength. All along your journey to full relief, you will encounter many professionals and other people who will offer lots of advice to you. However, you must learn to focus on one tool at a time until it brings reliable results that last over time. Hold your focus in this way until you succeed.

If you found this article helpful, please visit my website at to learn more about my pain programs. For more information about Maggie, visit

Author's Bio: 

Maggie Phillips, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in full-time private practice in Oakland, California. She is director of the California Institute of Clinical Hypnosis and past-president of the Northern California Society of Clinical Hypnosis.

She has served on the faculties of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH), American and European Congresses of Ericksonian Hypnosis and Psychotherapy, the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing International Association (EMDRIA), the Esalen Institute, the European Society of Hypnosis in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic Medicine, the International Society of Hypnosis (ISH), The Professional School of Psychology, the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (SCEH), the International Society for the Study of Dissociation (ISSD), the International Transactional Analysis Association (ITAA), and the University of California at Santa Cruz, Extension.

Dr. Phillips has led workshops on hypnosis, psychotherapy, the effects of childhood trauma, and reversing chronic pain in the U.K., Germany, Scandinavia, France, Japan, China, and Malaysia, and uses of energy therapies in mindbody healing.

She has authored numerous papers and articles in the areas of ego-state therapy, redecision therapy, and the treatment of post-traumatic conditions, and is the co-recipient of the 1994 ASCH Crasilneck award for excellence in writing and of the Cornelia B. Wilbur award from the ISSD. Dr. Phillips is co-author of Healing the Divided Self and author of Finding the Energy to Heal and Reversing Chronic Pain.

She is also a Fellow of the International Society for the Study of Dissociation (ISSD), and a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis.