- Staring at a screen is not always unhealthy – here’s a brilliant new study that shows why.
- Discover how endorphin’s can help your brain block pain
On Thursday I warned you about the perils of screens…
I urged you to watch out for posture problems and pain linked to iPads, smartphones and other mobile devices.
However, please remember that there is a form of mobile pain relief therapy that you can wear under your clothes to counteract common back and neck pain problems.
If you missed it, check out our website here: Pain Ease Wrap.
But let’s not be too hard on screens….
After my little rant about them on Thursday, I read an article that offered a totally different view.
Turns out that there’s a good side to being sat in front of a screen. It’s a health benefit that might never have occurred to you.
Could it be that watching a film is a form of PAIN RELIEF?
I know, I know. Weird but true.
But before you go rushing off to watch Die Hard, it’s not just any film….
Sitting in front of the latest Transformers movie (I hate the word movie but you know what I mean) might not quite do the trick.
However, if you can engross yourself in an emotional, tear-jerking work… especially if it makes you weep… then researchers at Oxford University have shown that you get an almighty endorphin release.
And this is a good thing…
A brilliant way to release your body’s natural pain killers
I realise this sounds obvious – but when we’re emotionally moved by something, chemicals rush around our bodies.
You’ll know this from any time that you’ve been in love, frightened or excited.
But there’s something about emotional films that create a strong sense of bonding between ourselves and the people we are with.
It’s all about the way that human beings respond to storytelling. It’s a reaction that’s been hard-wired into us since the days of hunter gathering, where we followed the oral tradition and sat around a campfire telling stories to bond the tribe.
To encourage this bonding, powerful stories trigger a sudden release of endorphins. These chemicals not only make us feel instinctively closer to people, they are natural painkillers that dim your brain’s response to pain.
The research team tested subjects’ pain thresholds before a sad film, then once again after it had finished.
Those who were most emotionally affected had a much higher increase in their pain threshold.
Dr Sophie Duncan from the study told the BBC ”you can give yourself an endorphin high through fiction…. watching tragic drama is good for you – it’s good for our health.”
This is interesting, because it backs up something I shared with you over the summer.
Stories that extend your life….
I don’t know if you remember, but I told you about a recent study into the effects of reading books.
It showed that reading engrossing works of fiction for 30 minutes or more each day can extend your life significantly.
Here’s the article again if you’re interested: Live Longer Through Books
It seems that fiction is much more than a distraction or idle hobby for intellectuals and nerds – it’s fundamental to the health of our minds and bodies.
So rather than rushing to grab the nearest bottle of painkillers, perhaps we should think more about finding meaning in our lives.
Happiness isn’t in a bottle…. it’s in thinking about other human beings.
This couldn’t be more urgent…
Right now the UK is in the grip of a pain epidemic. It is estimated that’s up to HALF the population – that’s 28 million people – are currently in pain. This is according to research in the British Medical Journal back in June.
As I mentioned on Thursday a lot of this is down to preventable issues like poor posture, computers and lack of exercise.
But a lot of it is down to our mental health.
For instance, research shows that that depression can cause symptoms include chronic joint pain, limb pain, back pain, gastrointestinal problems, tiredness, sleep disturbances.
Chronic pain, too, is often caused by the way our brain’s neurochemicals behave, as I explained in my email about the Weird Case of the Hammer and the Chronic Pain Sufferer. A lot of it is genuinely in the mind.
Unhappiness, loneliness, dissatisfaction… these could be important factors in the rising tide of chronic pain complaints.
So perhaps before we reach for the pills we should ask…
….How can we engross ourselves in stories that take us to other places outside our lives?
….How can we share deep meaningful experiences with other people and feel more bonded with them?
…How can we switch off this constant self-analysis and instead focus on the bigger, more cosmic and romantic issues of life, love, religion and death?
I realise this sounds like flaky hippy stuff but evidence is beginning to show that there’s a physical pay-off from our enjoyment of art and that sense of being engrossed in an imaginative world, sharing the experience with our friends.
The cinema is one of the only places this still happens!
Anyway, it can’t do any harm, can it?
How to get more information about pain relief
If you want more information on this topic, I’d urge you to take a look at some of the great research I’ve uncovered recently…
• Why the British Painometer is Going Off the Scale – discover the hidden causes of pain
• The Lancet Reveals why this popular drug won’t help joint pain sufferers – find out more here
• Why the media shouldn’t sneer at ‘cupping’ – try this at home to relieve pain
• How electrical therapies can reduce pain and heal the causes of pain – click here for more.
I’ll be back with more next week. Until then, stay healthy!