Activities that occupy time and provide meaning are known as occupations. Participating in meaningful occupations creates the essence of who we are as individuals. Occupational therapy carries the belief that performing meaningful occupations supports our physical and psychological health and well-being. When we are injured or experience pain, the ability to perform our occupations is impacted.
The following 3 videos demonstrate portable relaxation techniques that can be used to manage pain. They were designed to be portable, meaning they can be done anywhere, enabling you to do your day-to-day activities. Portable relaxation is a concept described in Miranda Thew’s portable relaxation chapter in the book, Lifestyle Management in Health and Social Care.
The Physiology of Breath
Our autonomic nervous system regulates how our body responds to stress and pain, and whether we’re responding from a fight-or-flight or relaxed state. As babies we start breathing into our belly, but as we get older, we start breathing into our chests. However, breathing into the chest shortens the breath, increases the heart rate, signals the sympathetic nervous system to respond from fight-or-flight, even when not in a stressful situation.
Belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing, lengthens the breath, decreases the heart rate, and signals the parasympathetic nervous system to place the body in a relaxed state (Tortora and Derrickson, 2015).
Video 1 – Belly Breathing
Video 2 – Tranquility
Video 3 – Body Scan
We recognise that these techniques may need to be practiced and that not all of them will work for everybody, but we hope they provide many of you with a lifelong resource that you can use and adapt to fit your lifestyle.
You can search for occupational therapists across the country on the Royal College of Occupational Therapists website.
Disclaimer: These techniques were developed during a Role Emerging Placement by students on the MSc occupational therapy programme at Leeds Beckett University.
Podcast - Talking with a Physiocure® patient about how pain has impacted her life
Disclaimer: This audio recording was edited for reasons of confidentiality.
- Thew, M. (2008) Portable Relaxation for Everyday Living. In: Thew, M. and McKenna, J. Lifestyle Management in Health and Social Care. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
- Tortora, G. and Derrickson, B. (2015) Introduction to the Human Body. 10th edition. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.