After, oh, age 8 or so, you no longer get away with wailing when you get stung by a bee or stub your toe. But unfortunately—whether it’s a much-needed bikini wax or your annual mammogram—pain is a part of our everyday lives. It turns out, though, that you don’t have to rely only on your OTC aspirin to get relief. Research reveals some quirky but effective natural ways to reduce aches without popping a pill.
1. Shout a four-letter word
Next time you take a spill, don’t hold your tongue. Swearing can increase your tolerance for discomfort, found British researchers. People could keep their hands submerged 35% longer in a tub of ice-cold water when they repeated an epithet in lieu of a more acceptable word. Swearing may trigger a series of physical and hormonal reactions that ease the sting of an injury.
2. Flip through photos
Scanning your iPhone for loving faces before an uncomfortable test like a mammogram may make it more bearable. Women who viewed pictures of their partners during a lab test reported less pain than those who looked at inanimate objects or strangers. A loving face may spur the release of chemicals that shut down pain-processing areas of the brain.
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