At the pain center fibromyalgia group, we talked about ways to distract ourselves from pain. Things that engage the mind, such as puzzle games were common. Some people had another coping mechanism, like a fidget cube or a tapping habit. In physical therapy they taught us how to do tiny motions, that wouldn’t cause stress to your muscles or increase your pain, but just send another signal to your brain other than the pain. Another method on that uses the same science is using a light tracing with a finger or something gentle to counteract pain signals. It sounds weird, but when I was in really terrible pain, I would have my husband lightly brush the palms my hands with a soft round watercolor brush. It would help me get the pain under control. TENS machines work for the same reason, and I think this is why sensory stimuli are so popular culturally right now.
Google ASMR, if you don’t already know what it is. Look at how things like playing with slime, cutting sand, and other sensory experiences are popular on Instagram and YouTube.
I have heard that even though we’re more connected than ever, we’re also more lonely. I don’t doubt it. Is it possible that we’re seeking these simple sensory experiences because we’re lacking simple sensory experiences? Maybe we’re in so much pain from our cultural PTSD, that we’re looking to cancel out those painful signals we’re receiving with some other stimuli? I think about this a lot, and what it means for us, our personal and societal mental health, and physical well being. Are sand cutting videos and people pretending to cut our hair taking place of authentic and connected touch?
And what role can art play in this?