Pain hurts. If you've ever plucked your eyebrows or located the coffee table in the dark with your shin, this goes without saying. The medical world is filled with prescriptions and therapies to treat it, but what can we do ourselves to relieve pain? Is there anything cost-effective and, well, effective? Yes, there is!
Here are six intriguing, amusing, and scientifically-supported ways to deal with pain.
What happens when you cross a comedian, Aesop, and an electrologist?
"So, did you hear the one about the Tortoise and the Hair (Removal)?"
Alright, that joke itself might have been painful.
Laughter can actually relieve pain, though. Researchers at Oxford University discovered that when hospital patients watched funny videos, they relied less on pain medication. Here's why: When you laugh (a real, belly laugh, not forcing a polite chuckle to placate your coworker's unfunny story you've heard a thousand times) your brain releases endorphins, the body's natural painkiller.
Finding the humor in hurting is easier said than done, of course. Luckily, modern technology keeps us instantly connected, so next time I have a back ache or walk into a lamp post while texting, I can look up some funny videos that might help me feel better enough to laugh at myself. And I might even remember to text more carefully next time. Maybe.
2. Apple Scents
As the saying goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Most people don't realize that smelling the apple can have the same effect as eating one. Eating an apple works too, since smell and taste are closely connected.
Migraine-sufferers in Chicago had an opportunity to participate in a study, which found that smelling the aroma of green apples reduced the amount of they pain they felt. The jury's out about whether the smell distracts from the pain, actually relaxes muscles, or both, but however it works, it works.
It may not win you any points on live television or in front of young children and their parents, but cursing like a sailor can reduce pain.
UK psychologists asked study participants to keep their hands in cold water. One group said a swear word while their hands froze, and the other group did not. The group using foul language felt less pain and even kept their hands in the water longer.
Note: If you regularly drop four letter word bombs in frustration, you may have developed a "tolerance" for swearing, and it won't reduce your pain as much. You might want to curse about this, but if you bite your tongue (figuratively, of course) you could eventually reduce your tolerance, learn to swear occasionally, and feel less pain when you do.
4. Thinking About Sex
For most people, sex crosses the mind from time to time, but did you know just thinking about it can relieve pain? It's true.
Reminiscing or daydreaming about a positive sexual experience can provide pain relief. Mentally taking a vacation from your pain, and focusing on an exciting, romantic time distracts you from focusing on your discomfort, and it's so effective that researchers at Johns Hopkins University confirmed it.
So next time something hurts, think back to a great time with your significant other, and you might feel significantly better.
5. Positive Expectations
Ever worried so much about a job interview or a public speaking event, that you actually psyched yourself out and didn't do as well as you'd hoped? This self-fulfilling prophecy isn't your anxiety having magical powers (as much as it might feel like it sometimes!) but it is a real thing. Good news is, it works both ways.
If you're worried about something potentially painful, like getting a cavity filled or helping a friend move, try reversing your fears. Reassure yourself, "Yes it might be painful but it won't be that bad. I'll get through it and will be okay. More than okay!" Repeat this self-encouragement as needed. Chances are, you'll start to believe yourself, and even if you do feel some discomfort, it won't be as bad as if you'd told yourself it would be horrible.
Expectations influence perception, and pain is all about perception.
6. Look At Your Loved Ones
If you've ever updated your computer, forgotten a password, or done anything involving a printer, you know that technology can be painful. But it can relieve pain, too.
With those fancy new smartphones, many of us carry around pictures of our loved ones we can peruse at the touch of a screen. A study demonstrated that women who looked at photos of their partners before a painful medical test felt less pain than those who looked at other photos. Maybe that's why so many people keep photos of their families on their desks at work.
Humans are social creatures, and sharing one's pain with somebody who cares about you can help. Many people describe their electrologist as being a wonderful and caring friend to them, so it's no wonder that electrolysis treatments are often less painful than one might have been led to believe!