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In addition to medications and physical therapies, regular relaxation and limiting your stress can help to manage your pain as our minds and bodies are intricately connected.

You may want to try different relaxation techniques: deep breathing exercises, meditation, visualization techniques, progressive relaxation and biofeedback. As little as 20 minutes of relaxation a day can have health benefits, including reduced anxiety and an increased sense of well-being. Relaxation is particularly important after a period of activity (physical or mental), when you are feeling stressed, and before bedtime to prepare for a good night’s sleep.

Choose a place in your home that will be your "relaxation space," preferably a private place where you can be alone, uninterrupted, for at least 10 minutes at a time. You may need to let your family know that this is a time when you are to be left alone.

Lie down on your bed or a comfortable couch and close your eyes. Take a few slow, deep breaths to start. Tell yourself that this is your time. When you feel settled, as you breathe in through your nose, say “re” silently to yourself and then say "lax" as you exhale through your mouth.

An option is to count to four as you inhale through your nose, pause, and then breathe out for a count of four through your mouth. The number you count to doesn’t matter, as long as you don’t force your breath. Do this for 10 minutes (or longer), twice a day.

This breathing exercise can also be done at any time of day, for a few minutes, when you start to feel stressed. For example, if you are working and start to feel anxious, feel a headache coming on or a stiff neck, take a couple of minutes to do this relaxation exercise before you continue with your work. Do this as soon as you recognize your particular symptoms of stress. The earlier that you can break the stress-fatigue cycle with a relaxation technique, the better.

You can also do this simple exercise after you get into bed if you have trouble sleeping. It will help reduce worries that are interfering with your sleep. If you wake during the night with your mind racing, this exercise is also useful. As soon as you notice your thoughts returning to the "problem," go back to your "re-lax" phrase and try to simply focus on your breath and the present moment, to still your mind and feel calmer.


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