Emotions Impact Pain

I never understood the impact of emotions on pain until I studied for my hypnotherapy diploma back in 2013 and then took a pain management diploma last year.  I also didn’t realise how changeable pain is, it isn’t constant and it is controlled by our brain.

When people have a bad accident the emotional state of the patient is critical to recovery which is why medics often give high doses of medicines such as ketamine to relax the patient so that they don’t really know what is happening, reducing the chances of going into shock.

When I went for spinal surgery I was quite emotional knowing it was a 5 hour procedure with a high risk of paralysis or nerve damage, I was shaky and trying to be brave but my consultant and surgical team understood how I was feeling.  They gave me IV Ketamine as they were setting up my heart monitors and getting the operating table ready as I had to lay face down for my operation, I did not care what they were doing to me I laughed hysterically as the drug took effect then fell unconscious, meaning I was not stressed at all whilst they were putting me to sleep.

After surgery I began to notice that the more I fought (in my mind) not actually fighting anyone 😂with the pain that came with developing fibromyalgia and recovering from surgery, the worse it got.

Fibromyalgia increases nervous system sensitivity as well as other other important roles it controls the messages that travel to and from our brain for pain management.  Have you noticed that when you’re sad, upset or in another ‘negative’ mood that pain feels worse, but if someone makes you laugh or you spot something that makes you smile inside the pain reduces, even if it’s a brief respite?  Have you noticed that when you wake up happy and the sun is shining that you wake up feeling less stiff and in less pain?  You might be saying to yourself ‘no’ but you do I assure you, it might not be for long but you will. 

I want you to try something for me, the next time you are feeling happy, are laughing, maybe you’re outside with your family having fun, just stop and do a mental scan of your body and compare it to when you have been in a ‘negative’ mood and I promise you your symptoms will feel much better, reduced, maybe give even forgotten about them!!

This does not mean it’s all in your head, pain is controlled through a complex system involving our nervous system which travels up to our brain through our spinal cord and how the pain is felt depends on the individual, emotions, past memories etc.  Some people can handle lots of pain.  Before my operation my twisting spine was very painful but I still went to work and the gym for 18 months and I had to have my painkillers increased to 20-25 a day until I begged the doctor to do something as none of them worked anymore and fentanyl was looking like the next option and no way was I quitting my job!! But now one little episode of pulling my back, a headache, banging my arm or whatever can quickly become so intense I can end up paralysed in pain or hysterical.

I had a very stressful weekend once dealing with some inappropriate behaviour of some I knew last year and the stress brought on a panic attack, something I’ve not had since I was 17.  I developed a migraine that was so painful I could not see, had to sit in the dark, my heart rate and blood pressure were off the chart.  No medication helped and the ambulance service rushed me to hospital for a potential brain scan.  I was horrified and embarrassed when we realised it was nothing more than a migraine.  Only the 3rd time I’ve ever had one and they had never been that painful, welcome to fibro.

Painkillers are a band aid for pain. Some are very effective but the brain gets used to them and more or stronger versions are needed, not a viable long term strategy for chronic pain.  My painful twisting spine was resolved with surgery but Fibromyalgia is in a league of its own as there is NO cure and not a pill that will keep the symptoms successfully under control long term.  

The nervous system is complex, feel free to read more about how it works here. I not only talk from being a qualified hypnotherapist and pain management therapist but someone who has Fibromyalgia.  I believe the messages/chemicals that are supposed to travel back from our brain to our nerves during pain do not work properly and no operation or pill is going to cure such a complex system.  Even if they did invent something to help at what cost would this be to our health.  All medications give side effects as they change our mind and bodies state.


I know some of you are desperate for a cure and hate having this condition and let me be honest I’d give a limb if I thought I could get rid of it but I can’t.  So I do the next best thing and accept it is part of me, fibro will never go away and me and my fibro (I’m thinking of giving it a pet name) have to coexist and get on.  Like you might have to with a naughty sibling or a demanding irritating boss at work.

Learn from your experiences; the most powerful skill you can learn is how to control pain, how to reduce the length of time a flare up lasts and how you react to both of these! 

My flare ups are rare and they don’t last longer than the same day they occur as I use my mind to help me get through it.  I can’t stop all flare ups as I want to live, I want to work, I want to go out with my family and I want to have holidays, but I can change how I feel about them.

My top tips for dealing with pain:-

  • Remember it will pass, pain changes and is not constant, it is like a volume control on a radio and you can change it in any direction you want.
  • Stay positive, if you are struggling then have a good cry and then do something to make you laugh.
  • Exercise helps and reduces pain long term whilst releasing endorphins like a natural anti depressant.
  • Stay away from fibromyalgia support pages that focus on negativity as this will NOT help you at all.  
  • Try yoga, not once but every day for just 5-10 minutes.  Have you ever met a miserable unhappy yoga teacher?  No of course not.  It’s relaxing and gives you focus and mental clarity.
  • Only temporarily increase painkillers then cut back asap.  Remember these are not the solution, they are a band aid.
  • Listen to music, meditate, undertake self hypnosis to lift your mood, clear your head, take you to your happy place 😊
  • This last one might sound crazy but I actually use my headspace app and focus my breathing through the area that hurts and it changes the pain.

One last thing do not sit and stew about the pain as this will feel increase the pain.  Talk to someone and if you haven’t got anyone you are more than welcome to talk to me 😁

This book changed my life – competition

This book and cd was lent to me by the Psychology Centre in Chesterfield under the NHS.

Pain, suffering and stress can be intolerable – but it doesn’t have to be this way. Mindfulness for Health reveals a series of simple practices that you can incorporate into your daily life to relieve chronic pain and the suffering and stress of illness. Clinical trials show that mindfulness meditation can be as effective as prescription painkillers and also enhances the body’s natural healing systems. Mindfulness can also reduce the anxiety, depression, irritability, exhaustion and insomnia that can arise from chronic pain and illness.

Mindfulness for Health is based on a unique meditation programme developed by Vidyamala Burch to help her cope with the severe pain of spinal injury. Taught at Breathworks in the UK – and its affiliates around the world – this programme has helped tens of thousands of people cope with pain, illness and stress.
The eight-week programme at the heart of this book takes just 10-20 minutes per day. You’ll be surprised by how quickly your suffering melts away, leaving behind a deep-seated love of life.
You might be thinking this sounds too good to be true but it really has changed my life.

This is a great video here by one of the co-authors that explains why she wrote the book 👍

Dr Danny Penman is an award-winning journalist and author. He has worked for the BBC and The Independent newspaper. He is a feature and comment writer for the London Daily Mail. He holds a PhD in biochemistry and a postgraduate diploma in newspaper journalism. He is co-author of the bestselling Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world (Piatkus).

Vidyamala Burch is founder and co-Director of Breathworks, an organisation offering mindfulness-based and compassion-based approaches to living well with chronic pain, illness and stress. In 2008 she published Living Well with Pain and Illness: the mindful way to ease your suffering (Piatkus) which is based on the Breathworks programme. She has also produced led meditation CDs and booklets available through Breathworks.

Mindfulness is about the quality of attention that you bring to the moments of your life; it’s awareness with non-judgmental, open-hearted acceptance. Integrating mindfulness into your life can do wonders for your well-being in all areas of life. It helps you to focus your mind, see things more clearly and calm your body – a very helpful and healthy way to manage the stress of our busy lives; to more skillfully manage emotions; and to stop reliving the past and/or worrying about the future.

I am running a competition to win this book on my FB page.  All you have to do is share my page, like and comment on the competition post here 

Pain pain pain 

I am not going to lie, the pain is at an all time high as it feels like I’ve got the early stages of flu.  I felt rough this morning, had 2 cocodamol felt slightly better, went to the bike shop to get our new bikes and had another coffee, one more than my usual, felt great, Christ I felt high.  Then I crashed big time, I felt dreadful, exhausted and in pain.

I decided to go for a little trundle out on my new bike to learn how to use gears, I’d passed my CBT on an automatic bike.  Now the way Fibro works is every little amount of ‘stress’ which normally I’d just deal with, my head and body go into full on ‘fight’ mode, I either hold my breath or take fast small breaths, the pain starts and I feel exhausted.  I managed to deep breathe and kept it under control.


After an hour I went home exhausted and in great pain, like having the flu, especially in my lower back around where I have had it fused.  I went to bed, listened to 2 mindfulness meditation sessions, ate a chicken snack, used a hot water bottle and after an hour of being in agony I took 2 cocodamol, begrudgingly, as I do not want to rely on pain pills.

I’m sat in bed still, hoping I feel better so I can go round the block on my new bike to get used to it.  Then I have all night and day to relax!!  Wish me luck.

Do you have tips and techniques you use to get you through the early stages of a bad Fibro attack?

Patience with our ‘wild minds’

I have been reading chapter 4 of my Mindfulness for Health book by Vidyamala Burch (read the reviews here)  about how our mind wanders whilst we try to meditate and why it does the same when we are in pain.  If we try to force the mind to be still it will kick and resist and we get exhausted by the struggle, if however we let it roam and follow it with our awareness, it will settle down of it’s own accord.  Our minds struggle as we oppose it, if we are patient and focus our awareness in the minds struggle, then it will become calm.  We can then refocus on the breath or body and the mind starts to get curious about the object of you refutation.  It will become gently calm, yet alert and vibrant.


The other reason why our minds refuse to settle, especially if our bodies are in pain or highly stressed while we meditate.  It is natural for the mind to avoid unpleasant sensations in the body.  It will want to distract especially after chronic pain sufferers are told ‘keep yourself busy, and distract yourselves’ only to stop and be in agony!!  We try to avert the pain.  Pay attention to your thoughts, see how it bounces around and drags up past troubling memories and then exploits them in the future, creating stress and anxiety.  Just notice them and give these thoughts and feelings names, but not judging them and then coax your mind back to the breath or your body and continue meditating. 


Think of your thoughts as passing clouds in a beautiful blue sky.  You notice them and let them go and the blue sky is always there. 

What do I do to avoid Fibromyalgia pain and fatigue?

This is my personal journey into taking control of my life.  Overall I have felt a reduction in pain, brain fog, fatigue and exhaustion problems, along with reduced stress and anxiety.  You may be wondering how, am I taking some new tablets?  Nope.  I have mourned my old life and moved into acceptance.


Now don’t you get me wrong here I’ve been sliding around this change curve for about 2 1/2 years, 2 of those not knowing what was wrong, I just presumed I was still recovering from major back surgery, I’ve had severe back pain for 10 years now, I’m 41.   But it wasn’t until I requested to see a Psychologist and for the first time ever I spilled out everything, no holding back to a complete stranger that it clicked.  I was resisting, fighting it even, going through the whole ‘why me’ syndrome, why me? Because genetics, lifestyle and taking my health for granted created spinal issues and having that op which was such a massive shock I developed what we know and love to hate Fibromyalgia.

I can’t cure this, no one can, I will always have a malfunctioning nervous system but, can it be controlled? Can I learn to love this thing and work with it and build a different life?  Well that’s what this site is all about.  My journey and if I do achieve my goal then hopefully I can help others.

I read a fantastic article here, I do undertake every one of these activities apart from accupuncture as quite frankly I’d take a massage over this anyday and money does not grow on trees.  But that is a personal choice

Every single day I sit and use a mindfulness technique called a body scan or I used to keep a diary.  How does my body feel today?  I use this recording here. It comes free with my new book.  By doing this you get a sense of how you actually feel, I don’t dwell on pain, I assess my body as a whole and also my emotions, so now I know how I feel and make a judgement on how much I can do.

For the first time in over 6 months this week I managed 2 X 20 minute sessions of mindfulness yoga and 1 X 20 minute swim.  Hooray 


Exercise is vital to remaining healthy, keeping weight to a ‘healthy level’ keeping our hearts and lungs healthy and releases feel good chemicals called beta-endorphins, a natural opiod that is stronger than morphine.  I don’t know about you but sitting around waiting to die is not my idea of a life!! I love moving and if it means I’ll live longer and have less pain then I’ll do it.  Yes we feel soreness more but think long term.  Do it slowly. Swimming and mindfulness yoga are gentle but effective.  I know I used to be as fit as an athlete and tried it all with this condition.  Do not spend all day sat watching tv or in the Internet, get up and go outside, yes if it’s raining put on a coat and walk.  Also drink at least 2-3 litres of water a day and I promise you’ll never hardly get headaches.  Our bodies lose 2 litres a day and some people drink what coffee?  Drink water it’s free and healthy.

I take fortnightly massages at my home at £20 a pop, I’d take a massage over a takeaway any day!! I also use meditation to envisage a massage without leaving my bed, I will dig out my hypnotherapy recording I created.

Baths omg I’d live in one if I could.  I have a hot bath with magnesium salts (I buy 5kg at a time) use 2 cups in each bath at least every other day, as hot as I can stand, I use hot water bottles a lot, especially at work and my friend has a hot tub that kills all aches!! 

Bedtime routine is crucial, here’s what I do:-

Hot bath,

No tv for an hour before bed but if all else fails wear uv glasses

No computer or phone an hour before bed or use uv glasses and change phone settings to reduce brightness at night.  UV light reduces melatonin production in the body and keeps us awake.  My UV glasses below, cost less than tenner from Amazon.


I have one coffee before 8am and no more, I don’t eat chocolate (maybe occasional treat before lunch).  I don’t eat sugar at all if I can help it.  I don’t drink alcohol.  

I read and meditate before bed every night, use a book not a computer or use your UV glasses.

Do not eat at least 3 hours before bed as this will disturb your sleep.

I do not get up if I cannot sleep I use mindfulness techniques to keep calm and enjoy the rest.  Sitting up all night in a computer stressing won’t make you feel refreshed.

Mindfulness keeps my stress under control, reducing my medication has helped my mental health and joining this site has been beneficial here.  Facebook for Fibro Warriors.

Supplementation I will do a separate blog post about these.  Do not underestimate the power of supplementation, I believe Fibromyalgia warriors (I hate the word sufferers) need additional supplements.  How many of us have low vitamin D and an Underactive thyroid?  So did I before I started using supplementation now both are normal.  I use this and I only take 1 a day and my thyroid went normal in 6 weeks as the ingredients replace what is low within your body, without resorting to harmful pills. More of this later.

This is a long post but all of the above has been more effective than any medicine I have tried and believe me that is a lot!!

Good luck and feel free to ask questions.  Nothing happens overnight it take patience, resilience and persistence. 

Mindfulness book loaned by the NHS

The book is called Mindfulness for Health and is available through Amazon here
It has been loaned to me for the next few weeks whilst I complete the mindfulness course through the NHS.  All you need to do is ask your doctor for a referral and fingers crossed this will be available in your area, for free!

I was reading the first chapter and knew this to be true which is why I signed up to the course. Many research papers have been written about the ancient art of mindfulness and the proven reduction in the intensity of pain messages in the brain.  I know the medical community have shown imaging studies and the changes in brain pain patterns over time with the utilisation of mindfulness meditation.  For some pain disappears for others the pain reduces yo a manageable level.  Do manageable that we never notice it, well it certainly doesn’t stop us from enjoying our lives!

I know some of you may think this is crazy but if we think about it logically, what controls pain? The mind, signals through the nervous system and the mind, relaying messages back and forth.  So if we can train the mind, like we do our bodies in the gym to make them stronger, why can’t we train the brain.

Well we can, hypnotherapy has been used for years for making improvements in our lives.  Mindfulness is nothing new but what’s exciting about it is the fact the medical community are taking it seriously at last.

Once I have finished the course I will combine my hypnotherapy skills with what I have learnt through mindfulness and create a free recording for us Fibromyalgia sufferers to use and attach it to my soundcloud page so we can all enjoy it together.  I will write it in such a way that everyone will benefit as your mind will tailor the words to your personal situation 👌

You can read more about the book here