Going to your happy place during an unpleasant medical procedure can help drastically reduce pain, according to new research presented at the EuroHeartCare 2014 summit in Norway. Danish researchers found that when patients visualized a safe place – the beach, their summer home, a lake in the woods – they experienced less pain during biopsies, heart ablations, and other uncomfortable procedures.
According to study author Marianne W. Nørgaard, visualization can limit a patient’s need for pain medication by approximately 25 percent and even take the place of "going under" in some instances. "We believe some patients could avoid general anesthesia altogether during [certain procedures like heart ablations] by using visualization and pain medication together," says Nørgaard, a clinical nurse specialist at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark. Not having a heart ablation anytime soon? Try the technique during any physically painful event, such as a root canal or lung-burning workout.