There are plenty of ways to relieve pain when it strikes, whether you go the route of fending off inflammation with the proper foods or quelling a piercing headache with the help of some ibuprofen. But whatever your go-to pain relief tactic may be, it never hurts to have a few more tricks up your sleeve for when pain hits. For that, here are some of the lesser known (slightly odd) ways to fend off pain.
Use a bit of profane language.
You might not be especially proud of the fact that your first instinct when you stub your toe or bump your elbow is to belt out a curse word, but the tendency to use profanity when you’re in pain might actually help improve your tolerance. Studies have shown that expressing pain vocally through swearing can actually provoke a reaction in the brain similar to that created by drugs like morphine, which means it can lead to instant relief.
Eat a green apple.
Or, at the very least, smell one. At least one study, from the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, has shown that being exposed to a green apple scent can help reduce the painful effects of a migraine significantly, though it’s unclear whether the link signifies a specific benefit of green apples or of simply having something to distract from pain.
Have low expectations.
While it might seem logical that setting your pain expectations higher rather than lower will make whatever pain you end up encountering feel less drastic, research actually suggests the opposite. Rather than anticipating high pain, set your expectations low. The idea is that by convincing yourself that the pain won’t be too bad, you subsequently convince yourself that you’re ready to handle whatever pain you encounter. That mentality ultimately makes it easier to endure the pain when you have to.
You might seem silly taking long, slow breaths to keep yourself feeling tolerant to pain, but studies show that breathing in this way can help you better deal with pain. The reason? The systematic, controlled breathing ultimately helps prevent your body from going into fight-or-flight mode, as can be the case when you encounter pain.
Look at photos of loved ones.
A little good quality time with friends and family can be a hugely beneficial way to keep you feeling good no matter what you’re dealing with. But even when the people you love aren’t physically present, it turns out that flipping through some photos of them can help you cope with pain a little better. According to research, the reasoning behind this may be that viewing photos of loved ones can release chemicals in your brain that inhibit the pain processing in your mind.
Rub ice between your fingers.
This trick taps into the power of acupressure as a useful pain-relieving method. Basically, by holding an ice cube between your thumb and index fingers and rubbing it between them, you can hit the pressure point that alleviates slight pains from things like headaches or toothaches.
Think hot and steamy thoughts.
It turns out that one of the more risqué ways to deal with pain is to actually think about sex, or about a sexual fantasy. Research here suggests that putting yourself in a mindset that conjures up feelings of enjoyment can ultimately make it easier to forget or get distracted from any pain that you’re feeling.