Medical College of Wisconsin Pain Medicine

Guided relaxation

Additional resources


Apps of interest

  • Headspace

    Free trial consists of 10 recordings of guided meditation.

  • Calm

    Free app with guided meditation and breathing exercises; has an interesting sleep stories section.

  • Breathe2Relax

    Free app with guided meditation and breathing exercises.

  • iHeadache

    Having already existed in online form, the iHeadache mobile app debuted on the App Store in early 2016. Designed by a neurologist, the app also creates reports designed specifically to help a doctor identify headache triggers and effective treatment methods.

  • Sleep Cycle

    Features a patented technology that can track and evaluate your sleep patterns using sound or vibration analysis. The app then uses the data to generate graphs and reports to help you visualize your sleep cycles. It can also wake you at the optimal time so you feel less groggy during the day.

YouTube videos and searches of interest

CBT-CP resources

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic pain (CBT-CP)

    Chronic pain may result in patterns of negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, which can, in turn, worsen the pain condition! The goal of CBT-CP is to target these maladaptive patterns in thinking and behaving so that alternative, more adaptive, pain coping skills can be learned.

  • Catching ANTs

    When you get upset, you often have negative thoughts. These thoughts may happen automatically and worsen your pain and negative mood. You can feel better physically and emotionally by catching ANTs when they occur, noticing how they make you feel, and challenging them with a more balanced thought.

  • Pain thoughts

    Thinking about how much pain you are in does not help you cope with the pain. As pain increases, thoughts may become more negative; as thoughts become more negative, pain often increases further.

  • Factors that impact pain

    Chronic pain touches many parts of your life, and each piece affects others. While some factors may increase or turn the volume up on pain, other factors may decrease it. And you can decide how to manage many of these factors.

  • The chronic pain cycle

    Many with chronic pain fear that movement will increase pain or cause physical damage/injury. This often leads a decrease in activities, which leads to physical deconditioning (e.g., less strength and stamina, weight gain). Dealing with constant pain may also lead to negative thoughts and emotions such as frustration and depression. All of these factors contribute to increased avoidance of people and activities.

  • Coping statements

    Some statements that can be used to replace unhelpful thoughts.

  • Pacing activities

    Engaging in a moderate, safe level of activity on a regular basis is how to avoid the overactivity cycle. Using the skill of pacing, where time is the guide for activity engagement, can be a helpful strategy. Pacing is about balancing activities, planning ahead, and working “smarter not harder.”

  • Pacing log

    Estimate how long you can safely do one of your regular activities (e.g., yardwork, dishes) without causing a severe pain flare and set that minus one minute as your “active” goal time for the activity. Approximate the amount of “resting” time you will need in order to safely resume activity or continue your day.

  • Progressive muscle relaxation

    A series of easy to follow steps to relax your entire body.