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Relaxation for long-term pain

A man relaxing to music

Many people find relaxation an effective way of managing their pain. Relaxation helps to reduce stress and can produce a general sense of wellbeing. Various forms of relaxation are available and techniques can be easily used to complement pain-relieving medication.

Listening to relaxation audio tracks is popular. Some approaches take you off on a scenic journey describing restful locations such as a beach (known as guided imagery), while others focus on tensing and relaxing various parts of your body (progressive muscle relaxation) or use other visualisation approaches. It’s worth trying a few different approaches to decide what works best for you.

Self-directed forms of relaxation include meditation, which involves concentrating on breathing or a sound (called a mantra) that you repeat to yourself. Alternatively, specific breathing techniques can be used which, once mastered, can be performed on the spot to ease anxiety. You’ll probably need to attend a class to practice in order to perfect the technique, but the effectiveness of relaxation improves with practice.

Just as with pacing and rest, it’s best to apply relaxation in a way that promotes the activities you want to do and that serve your goals. Sometimes brief periods of relaxation that you can build into your activities are best. Long imaginary exercises that function as a form of escape from reality are perhaps less useful, particularly if done too often.

For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org.
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.