Mind and Body Strategies

Try if you have headaches, back and neck pain, Fibromyalgia, GI disorders such as IBS and Crohn’s Disease.How they work: Here’s a look at three proven forms: Mindfulness-based stress reduction helps you focus attention on the present, so you can clearheadedly observe problems and work to solve them. In guided imagery, a teacher coaxes you to imagine a peaceful, calming scene. “How you think about pain has a huge impact on how much you hurt,” says Adam Perlman, MD, MPH, executive director of Duke Integrative Medicine. Transcendental meditation uses a mantra (a special word) as a focal point to quiet the mind; one study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that participants who meditated had a greater reduction in pain than those who didn’t.

Must-know info: No single method is considered better than another, so it’s a good idea to test-drive different options and decide which one you like best. Check with your local yoga studio to see if it offers mind/body options and if not, ask staffers if they can point you in the direction of a local practitioner. You can also find listings in your area on the Mindbody app (available for free on iTunes).

DIY fix: Try progressive muscle relaxation, says Dr. Perlman: “Anything that helps you relax mentally and physically can be beneficial if you’re in pain, and this is easy to do.” Sitting in a comfortable chair with your shoes off, tense and relax the muscles in your toes for 5 seconds, then completely relax them for 30 seconds. Next, work your way up your legs to your rear, then up to your head.

You can also give these free apps a go: Headspace (offers daily 10-minute meditations); Stop, Breathe & Think (provides meditations based on how you mentally and physically feel); and Calm (a seven-step program).