Cognitive Restructuring

Changing our negative beliefs and feelings about pain can make all the difference.

It’s easy to get caught up in negativity and depression when dealing with pain of any kind, especially if it’s chronic pain. Cognitive restructuring is a therapeutic method used to help people sort through their negative emotions and issues. The chatter in our heads is a powerful force that can help us achieve goals and prosper. It can also have the opposite effect. Cognitive restructuring can help people take steps in the right direction through positive affirmations, accurately assessing the situation, aligning expectations and reducing stress. Changing our negative beliefs and energy can have a powerful effect on stress reduction, which in turn can ease pain.

Mind over Pain: Replacing Negative Thoughts

Therapies such as cognitive restructuring are often used to compliment medical or other psychological treatments. Cognitive restructuring can help patients understand their own role in managing their pain. Relaxation exercises can help patients to loosen tight muscles, alleviate emotional stress and tension and move their attention away from the pain. For this, there are certain distraction techniques that may be beneficial, such as imagining or visualizing positive or happy things. Counting can also take the focus off pain, and the use of focal points can be a powerful distraction. The goal is help patients move beyond the pain through their own power and to find coping mechanisms that work.

Replacing negative thoughts with more positive, self-affirming thoughts can have a strong impact on mental distress. It may sound like a simplified approach to a complex problem, but many psychologists agree it can be quite helpful. Most people who suffer with chronic pain due to accidents, other injuries, inflammatory illnesses or other diseases will have to deal with the occasional pain flare-ups. That’s why it’s so important to have the tools necessary to ease the negative beliefs and attitudes toward that pain. It may take patients some time to master the techniques for restructuring negative emotions, but some researchers say the payoff, once the skills are mastered, can produce a powerful outcome.

Depression, anxiety and stress are common among chronic pain sufferers. They may be able to manage their pain with medication and physical therapy, but doctors are increasingly recommending some type of psychotherapy as well. Cognitive restructuring can help patients recognize negative thoughts, evaluate them and change them.

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