A micro perspective is a different approach altogether and this can be very helpful. At this time of year, it is hard to focus for a long period. Therefore it is a great time to practice micromanagement. Micro-hacks look at smaller situations. The solutions are smaller and easier to do too. Small things to do, in the midst of a busy day, while washing the dishes, mowing the yard, on a conference call or commuting.
To form a habit of drinking six to eight glasses of water a day is difficult. That’s a macro habit and it is good for the long term. If we drink more on average, it empowers our healing. But what is important to understand – even the people who have great water habits change when they’re under stress. But it is in stressful times when we need water most. The brain has a higher need for water than the rest of our bodies, so a lack of water hurts performance. We can feel foggy or fuzzy, our brain is not performing as well and stress decreases the thirst signal. This is what micro hacks are about: our minute by minute life. Click To Tweet
For example, research shows if we move just a bit, our brains activate in a way that we are smarter for hours afterward. Specifically, we access our memory easier, make better connections between information and generate more creative ideas. Looking at it from a micro perspective, “Today is an important day, so I can’t not exercise for I need be smart today. I need to be at my best”. Not that I have to exercise today because it is good for me.
A micro perspective is different. Research shows if we focus on breathing we are calmer and smarter afterward. We lessen pain and fatigue and become more creative. From this perspective, we would say, “I have to stop for a breath, I can’t afford not to breathe because I need to decrease my pain”. We can experiment and see what works best individually. Taking a deep breath when we feel like we are getting hijacked makes a difference. Shallow chest breathing can actually exacerbate autonomic reactions. Deep breathing is a better way to reverse our reaction.
We can lower pain and build resilience when we carve out an hour or less to get focused work done. Click To Tweet
An important hack is to let people around us know that we need to focus at particular times of the day and to leave us alone. With less input, we will be much more productive. Plus we will feel like there is more time in the day. But we have to communicate with people. When communicating it can become a mutual agreement about how we assist each other to decrease pain, fatigue and become more productive.
When our bodies are tense, our pain increases which make for a difficult day. Our bodies can not understand the difference between a true threat to our bodies and an imagined one. The classic example is we have the same reaction to a tiger attack and the thought of the tiger attacking. Early human beings, needed strong reactions to any threat to survival. But now we feel threatened in the workplace for example when we are left out of a meeting. When we sense a threat, the amygdala in our brain sends out a wave of chemicals including adrenaline. At a time we need to think clearly and be more collaborative at the office, our bodies’ adrenaline and cortisol actually can do the opposite, giving us tunnel vision. Setting off all of our alarms tensing all our muscles, increasing pain. We can reset this hijack using our senses.
Smells and sounds help calm us and break that overreaction. Holiday spices and the physiological reaction of people are well documented. Dr. Borysenko made a connection between smell and the mind and body. One reason why we use smells and music on holidays is that they calm us down and they cut through our stress response.
Smell is of course closely related to breathing. Some people consider smell to be the most emotionally evocative of all the senses. As such, it has great potential for calming and soothing both body and mind. In fact, it bypasses the intellect.
It can be very helpful to scent a small cloth and carry it in a sealed or Ziploc type bag. Or use fresh herbs or a scented body cream or perfume or sachets of whatever smell is comforting. The scent will probably work best if it is a naturally occurring smell. Some plants have very soothing properties and may be useful to carry for that reason.
Others may evoke a particularly happy time or feeling, like an ocean aroma. While breathing deeply, gently waft the cloth near the nose from time to time. Do not hold it directly over the nose, or breathe the aroma of the cloth constantly. The idea is to soothe rather than overwhelm.
Use sound as a micro pain hack
Sounds that we hear can relax or stress. For many people, sound is a very important component of the everyday sensory experience. The same sound can affect different persons in radically different ways. One person may find the sound of traffic to be highly undesirable, while another may prefer it as a sleep aid.
Therefore, sound therapy or music therapy is very powerful, yet personal. Choose some sounds that are soothing and replay them in our heads while you are breathing deeply. Singing bowls are proven to change the body and mind. Use sounds to take tension out of the body and soothe the mind, for example, lots of endorphins are released into our bodies when we shake it! So get up and hum or sing and shake. Or dance for a few minutes if possible.
The role of emotions in pain is well documented. Click To Tweet It can be a really limiting factor in life if we can’t get emotions under control or when we let emotions hijack the rest of our systems when in an actual tense situation. Remember the old saying ‘In the sea of life, feelings are your navigation system.’
Once you make the emotion-pain connection you can transform those emotions that are causing suffering. Click To Tweet Usually, it will not happen immediately but with practice, laughter and smiling emotions are one of the keys to a pain free life.
Having an hour-by-hour, or even a second-by-second sense of purpose makes it easier to get through chronic pain that at some time we all go through in life. Meaning in life is key to building Micro Pain Resilience. More options and choices create a more resilient person.
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