10 ways to cope with chronic pain

10 ways to cope with chronic pain

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Everyone?s pain is different and everyone copes in different ways. I?ve had my endometriosis pain for nearly 20 years and my sitting disability and other pains for over 5 years. During that time I have had to learn ways to cope with chronic pain rather than fight it and question why I?ve got it. Below are my top 10 tips.

10 ways to cope with chronic pain wording on my branded photo

1. Accept your pain

The first thing to do is accept your pain. Make friends with it and change your mindset and the way you think about it. In the early days of having chronic pain, this can be tough to do. You want to question why you have the pain and what is causing it. This is especially the case if you don?t have a diagnosis, and accepting your pain can be even harder.

My mindset changed after I had my coccygectomy (surgery to remove my coccyx). I knew it was my last hope and was willing to give it a try to see if it would work. I also knew that if the surgery didn?t work, then I had to accept things for what they are and learn to find ways to cope with chronic pain.

Despite not having any other treatment options, since my mindset changed to accept my pain, I have been so much more positive. It means I am putting my energy is to the right things.

2. Focus on what you can do, not on what you can?t

This is something I learnt to do when I was getting workplace adjustments put in place at work. The focus was always on what I couldn?t do (attend meetings, travel to the office every day) rather than looking at what I could do.

The same goes for activities in your personal life. You need to look at what you can do now and make changes to help you wherever possible. I love eating out at restaurants but I now have to make sure that the chairs are suitable, or even better, they have tall tables to allow me to stand up and eat.

3. Keep busy so you?re not thinking too much

There may be days when you want to think and question things; how you?re feeling, why me, how will I find ways to cope with chronic pain, I?m so fed up of being in pain etc. And you may just have to accept this denial is part of the change curve. ?But do it and get it out your system and then keep yourself busy. Thinking too many negative thoughts is no good for anyone.

Again, think about what you can do and keep yourself occupied. When I was recovering from my surgery for 6 months, and wondering if I?d have a job to go back to, I used to do adult colouring to keep distracted. Or puzzles on my phone lying down where I was comfy. I even signed up to Now TV and took advantage of the 3 free months of Sky Movies that was on offer at the time. These days I fill my spare time by writing and researching for my blog.

4. Do one thing at a time

This tip is highly recommended to be more productive even when you don?t have chronic pain.

?Focus on one task at a time. He who chases ?two rabbits catches neither? – Paul Foster, CEO and Founder of The Business Therapist

If, like me, you love writing ?to do? lists, or even if you don?t but you have lots of things to do, then spend a little time thinking about and planning the things you need to complete, then work your way through them one at a time. The progress might feel slower but you?re more likely to get things done quicker this way as your energy will be on doing one particular task. And as you tick things off the list, you?ll feel also feel a sense of achievement.

5. Don?t be harsh on yourself if you?re having a bad pain day

If you are having a bad pain day and you aren?t up to doing anything, then that?s fine. Don?t be harsh on yourself. Bad pain days are part and parcel of life with chronic pain. Accept it and do what you need to do to get through it. Wherever possible do tip number 3 if you can, and keep busy doing whatever you can so that you have something else to focus on. This might be reading a book or watching tv, chatting to someone on the phone, or reading my blog (ha!).

6. Don?t justify your pain to anyone

Only you know what your pain is like and how you cope with it. Just because you can?t see it, doesn?t mean it?s not there. Invisible disabilities and health conditions are even more challenging because people feel they have to justify themselves to other people.

You may have to explain how your pain affects you, but you don?t need to justify it. I still struggle with this from time to time, especially when my pain is bad.

7. Write down the positives

A couple of years ago I was given a happy box for Christmas. Every day I write down at least one thing that made me happy or that I was grateful for. It doesn?t seem much at the time, but at the end of the year I open my box and there are at least 365 cards with things I am happy for (some days I write down more than one).

Again this is a way to help us focus on the good stuff. It?s all too easy to focus on the bad things in life or the things that go wrong. And it can also help us remember things that have happened, a bit like keeping a diary.

8. Connect with those who understand

My partner is the person who gets me the most. She doesn?t know what my pain is like but she knows how it affects me and appreciates the things I can do and the things I struggle with. I?m extremely lucky to have her and not everyone has that someone around them.

I also wanted to connect with those who literally understand my type of chronic pain. So I joined a coccyx pain group on Facebook a few years ago and it was one of those light bulb moments in life: making that connection with people who ?get? my pain.

I?ve also set up a chronic pain network at I work to help connect people together so we reach out to those who understand.

And writing this blog is helping me in so many ways. One of them is connecting me with people who can relate to and understand my situation.

Think about what you can do to connect more with those who understand.

9. Go for a walk

This tip is so simple, but if your pain allows for it, then get some fresh air and go for a walk. Even a 5 minute walk can do wonders for our wellbeing.

10. Treat yourself

Last but not least, the final tip is to treat yourself. Having chronic pain is tough and we all deserve a treat from time to time. It can be as big a treat as you want and can afford. I?ll often buy myself my favourite pick ?n? mix sweets or some Lindt chocolate. Even Aldi?s version is good enough. Or I?ll buy myself a new notebook or something off Amazon because I love getting post.

I also always make sure I have something in my diary to look forward to – a weekend away, a dinner date, or a duvet day watching dramas and films..

How do you cope with chronic pain?

Do you agree with my suggestions? What are your ways to cope with chronic pain??What tips do you have for someone with chronic pain?

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19 thoughts on “10 ways to cope with chronic pain

  1. Tiffany Locke says:

    Your advice to focus on what you can go by making changes to help wherever possible is a good idea. I’d imagine that one place to start this would be to look at what you have in your home, such as your mattress and chairs, to see if you can find something better for your pain. Looking at furniture that is specialized for pain management, such as a QRS mat, could help you have more control and feel more relaxed when you’re at home.

  2. Vera Hall says:

    I once heard a wise woman tell another who was wallowing in the “Why Me” puddle, “Why not you?”
    That struck a note with me. Every time I feel like dipping my toe into that ‘puddle’ I think why do I feel that it should be someone else besides me? My pain gives me compassion for others. It slows me down so I can smell the roses (so to speak). Who would I wish my pain on? Not a soul! So I will continue on and accept what life gave me.

    • Alice says:

      I love your way of thinking. I too am more accepting and more positive about certain things because of my pain – and I do believe in fate, everything happens for a reason. Thank you for sharing tour thoughts.

  3. Rowena says:

    Hi Alice,
    I don’t live with chronic pain, but I have a severe auto-immune disease and that’s like wrestling an octopus. Your list is fabulous and fairly original in its content so it was great food for thought and action. I agree with everything you said.
    One thing I’d add is prioritizing. What has to be done today? What can wait? What’s coming up?
    It;s been the start of the new school year here and I am currently way behind but I’m slowly chipping away at the list.
    Plan your week. If you have a big day, you might need to have nothing on the next day. Try to spread out your activities and pace yourself.
    I find it a real struggle to simply get out for a coffee with a friend and one of my close friends I want to have a coffee with has severe back issues and so between the the two of us, it’s now been over a year. I miss her.
    I also think it’s important to have someone you can confide in if you aren’t coping. If you are starting to get dark, reach out. Stay connected enough with your local community, that someone will notice you’re not around.
    I’d also be careful posting too many happy smiley photos of yourself on Facebook when you’re feeling low. Your friends will see you looking well and not process what you’ve written about not doing well and you won’t be giving them a chance to be a friend.
    My advice to people who knows someone who is living with chronic pain or illness, is to find a way you can touch base without being intrusive. Ask how we are going and please don’t keep your distance as though we have leprosy. A friend of mine used to send me card every now and then and I really appreciated that. Most of them were just a few lines on the back of a postcard but 20 yeaqrs later, I haven’t forgotten.
    Lastly, I thought you might appreciate this post about living with adversity: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2018/01/22/life-was-meant-to-be-easy/
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

    • Alice says:

      Hi Rowena – thank you for your comment. Some give some great advice. I love the prioritising tip. I shall take a look at your link, thank you ?

  4. Deborah Minnig says:

    I have found frequent massage – 2x per week – and adhering to a healthy diet have also been beneficial. No carbs or sugar. Purified water!! And, as you said, anything to get your mind off the pain if possible. Movies, music, calling a friend who is supportive can help me at times.

  5. Kathi Knill says:

    I came across your blog through Dr. Rawl’s email message to me and to which a link to this page was included. I wanted to say that as I read along I realized that with a couple -3 exceptions, I actually do the things you suggest. I also thought about my early days of trying to copy with chronic pain vs. these days (10 – 13 years later) and it occurred to me that once I started doing some of the things that you suggest (having a more positive outlook, focusing on what I can do, telling myself I can do something rather than I cannot do it, coloring/arts & crafts (things that require that I have an empty mind and a focus on what I am trying to make) and going for a walk. These are all such great suggestions, and some of your readers/followers may realize that they already do many of them but they don’t know how to interpret them as helping themselves feel better. Perhaps that could be the focus of one of your next blog posts?? Meanwhile the last thing I would like to share is something that I did to help myself. While it may not be feasible for everyone, my suggestion is “get a pet”. I got a 3 month old puppy. She was a “left over” that the for some reason, the breeder could not sell as easily as the others in the litter. Anyway, the reason I think a person should take on a pet is because a pet is something that forces you to focus outside of your self. A puppy for example, needs to be fed, walked, trained and played with, all of which are time consuming activities. These activities all require me to focus on my puppy, and when I am doing that, I am not thinking about my knees hurting or my hips, feet, or back hurting. I am only thinking that this living being is relying on me to make her life a happy and well rounded one.
    If you aren’t a “dog person”, get a cat or a bird. True the latter of those doesn’t require training but being a bird owner consumes your time in other ways. When I was a kid, I had a parakeet as a pet. I did not have to walk her. However, I did take her out of her cage (while in a small enclosed place….a large bathroom or laundry room, are both good examples of what I mean) and I let her fly around a bit, while I cleaned her cage. I also taught her how to jump onto my finger and let me take her out of the cage. I don’t recall everything I did with her but I know I had to take care of her. She relied on me to feed and water her and keep her environs clean and healthy.
    These are just 2 examples of pets someone may consider adding to your family. I am sure that people can come up with their own ideas about the type of pet they would like to have. My point is simply to say that somehow your thoughts about what hurts, get pushed to the back of your mind when you are taking care of a being that cannot care for them-self.
    Anyway, I just wanted to make that suggestion and share my thoughts. Thank you for the work you do to make your blog possible. Feel free to post this comment either as is or with appropriate edits. Sincerely, K9loverkjk

    • Alice says:

      Thank you for your comment and so sorry for my late response. I?ve been poorly this week so unfortunately have not dedicated as much time to my blog.
      I like your suggestion for a future blog post. I will definitely write about this. I have been chatting to someone this week who spoke about something similar and the importance of distraction to help us focus on other things rather than our pain.
      I also agree about how pets can distract you. I have two Westies and they really help me focus on something else and give me something to care for and make a priority.
      Thank you again and also for your kind words about my blog ?

    • Rowena says:

      Hi Kathi,
      I usually don’t experience pain but live with a severe auto-immune disease where my muscles attack themselves along with lung complications. We have become a 3 dog family. We had a gorgeous border collie, Bilbo, who joined our family when my kids were babies and my youngest was crawling. When he was about 6 months old, I was hospitalised for 6 weeks and the kids stayed with my parents, leaving him home alone and my husband would arrive home quite late. He wasn’t happy with this new arrangement and chewed through all the computer cabling under house and even started chewing through an electric cable but must’ve felt a tingle and stopped. He was a very caring and compassionate dog, but unfortunately their time accelerates much faster than our own and he passed away 6 months ago. We had adopted a second dog a few years ago when he wasn’t looking well but she is very different and not so interactive and doesn’t fetch which is a requirement around here. Long story short, I joined a pet rescue group and fostered two border collie x pups with a view of only keeping one. Yet, we have kept both. Then, we fostered two kelpie pups. They were four weeks old when they arrived and could barely walk and were bottle fed. They left just before Christmas.
      Looking after the pups was very encouraging for me, because it was something I could do. They also had such a beneficial impact on my son who was devastated after our dog passed and I was quite unwell at the time too. I couldn’t stress enough the beneficial effects of having a dog. https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2017/11/12/our-son-and-the-rescue-pup/
      Since the pups arrived, he’s been happy walking in the door after school and pats a dog, instead of throwing his bag on the floor in a huff.
      xx Rowena

  6. Kelly Solomon says:

    I just came across your post on Instagram & am now following your blog. Love this article!!! It’s so easy to lay around & wallow in self pity when you have chronic pain. Yours is the best advice I’ve come across in quite some time & I plan to be more positive & not let my pain consume my life. Thank you so very much for the much needed kick in the pants!!

    • Alice says:

      Hi Kelly.
      Thank you for your lovely comment, and for taking the time to read my blog ?
      I?m so pleased you found my advice helpful – this is fantastic news! Like you say it?s so easy to wallow and be negative, and I still have some days like this, but it?s important to know what to do to get out of it.
      I hope it helps and keep in touch and let me know how you get on.
      And thank you for following me on Instagram ?

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