Text Size

The experience of pain is intensified by stress and by emotions like worry, frustration and depression. Emotions create muscle tension, which is directly painful. Emotions also contribute to the experience of pain indirectly by increasing stress and a sense of helplessness.


Relaxation is an antidote to both tension and stress. Also, it offers a distraction from pain. For some people, relaxation involves the regular use of a formal relaxation or meditation procedure, such the Relaxation Response, the Body Scan, Progressive Muscle Relaxation and the use of imagery. (For step by step instructions, see the article Stress Reduction: Five Practical Techniques on the self-help program website.) Other relaxing activities include exercise, mindful breathing, baths and hot tubs, massage, rest breaks and listening to tapes or CDs.

Integrating one or more periods of relaxation into your daily routine counteracts pain, stress and negative emotions.