Non-Drug Pain Management

These relaxation exercises can be useful in controlling your pain without drugs.

Exercise 1: Slow Rhythmic Breathing

  • Breathe in slowly and deeply. You may wish to count slowly to yourself to help control your breathing.
  • As you breathe out slowly, feel yourself beginning to relax; feel the tension leaving your body. You may wish to say a word to yourself like "peace" or "relax."
  • Now breathe in and out slowly and regularly at whatever rate is comfortable to you.
  • Repeat for up to 20 minutes.
  • End with a slow deep breath. As you breathe out say to yourself, "I feel alert and relaxed."

Exercise 2: Massage

Simple touch, massage, or warmth are age-old methods of relaxation. Check with your nurse or doctor to see if this would be right for you.

Exercise 3: Peaceful Past Experience

You may be able to draw on peaceful past experiences to bring you comfort now. Think about these questions:

  • Can you remember any situation, even when you were a child, when you felt calm, peaceful, secure, hopeful or comfortable?
  • Do you have any favorite music?
  • Do you have any favorite poetry that you find uplifting or reassuring?
  • Have you ever daydreamed about something peaceful? What were you thinking of?
  • Have you ever been religiously active? Do you have favorite readings, hymns, or prayers? Even if you haven't heard or thought of them for many years, childhood religious experiences may still be very soothing.


Exercise 4: Active Listening to Music

  • Using an mp3 player with headphones, listen to your favorite music.
  • Tap out the rhythm with your fingers or nod your head. This helps you concentrate on the music rather than your discomfort.
  • Keep your eyes open and focus steadily on stationary spot or object. If you wish to close your eyes, picture something about the music.
  • Listen to the music at a comfortable volume. If the discomfort increases, try increasing the volume; decrease the volume when the discomfort decreases.