Emotion Regulation Strategies & the Pain Experience

I want to review this new study that came out recently (May 2024) in the Clinical Journal of Pain. The results showed how we deal with emotions in real time can have an immediate effect on our pain experience. What the study found was that maladaptive emotion regulation (ER) strategies were associated with more pain intensity, greater pain interference, and more pain-related negative affect (emotion).

What are these maladaptive ER strategies? Worry, expressive suppression, experiential avoidance, and rumination. All these negative strategies to deal with arising emotion just makes the pain experience worse. This makes sense as these ER strategies are ways to avoid or prolong the emotional experience, thereby having a direct effect on the pain experience.

What this study highlights is we need to move away from the negative ER strategies and learn how to cultivate adaptive healthy ER strategies such as affect labeling, emotional expression, acceptance, problem-solving, and cognitive re-appraisal.

Reach out if you would like or need help in learning how to do this, as working with emotions is an important piece to shifting the brain to shift the pain (symptoms).