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A huge part of my pain management is distraction. I have to keep busy to try and not let my chronic pan take over, and keeping my mind busy means that I am not focussing on my pain. In this blog post I suggest 10 ways to use distraction as a pain relief and give some examples of what I do and why it is beneficial.
Sometimes the pain can be so bad, that nothing can distract you. The important thing to do here is to accept it and just do what you need to do. For me, this can be having a sleep, having a good cry, or having an alcoholic drink. I don’t drink a lot by any means, but one drink can help relax my muscles better than anything. Even my physiotherapist recommended a drink over certain types of medication.
I’ve split my 10 ways to use distraction in to three categories. I find that I use different distraction methods depending on my energy levels and and how bad my pain is.
My categories of distraction:
- Exercise and movement
- Keeping my mind busy
10 ways to use distraction as a pain relief
These are things that I do when I need to lie down and rest. Sometimes I need to listen to my body and have a sleep, but sometimes I just need to rest but need something to distract me from my pain. I spend a lot of my time lying down, and it is so easy to fall asleep. If I sleep too much during the day, then it can impact on the quality of my sleep at night-time. Doing something while resting helps make sure that I don’t nod off more than I should. It also makes me feel like I am making the most of this rest time too – learning something through reading or watching TV, or enjoying some of my favourite music to release some of those endorphins.
1 Watch TV or a film
I love a good drama series, or an action or real-life film. They hook me in and keep me distracted while resting. I love having Netflix as there’s loads of choice on there, and my Amazon Fire Stick gives me access to catch up TV as well as Amazon Prime, which includes TV series and films.
2 Listen to music
The power of your favourite music is incredible. It can change your mood, increase your energy and bring back some memories from the time your first heard it. I often spend several hours resting and listening to some of my favourite songs.
I love reading non-fiction, especially true events and self-development books. I like to feel like I’ve learned something or come across something that I’d never normally know about. I read a book recently called The Pain Companion which I highly recommend to anyone with chronic pain. You can read my book review here.
There’s so many books to choose from, and even more choice through Kindle and eBooks. Read more about my love for my Kindle in my post Why my Kindle is good for my chronic pain.
Have you read these blog posts yet?
Exercise and movement
I talk in detail about this in my post How walking helps my chronic pain. I love going for a walk, whether on my own, with my two Westies, or with my family. Sometimes I don’t have the energy or feel up to it but I know I need to move about or keep moving as part of my pain management, so I make myself go for a walk anyway. Even if it’s only a short 5 or 10 minute walk. I aways come back more energised and often feel more positive and better in myself too.
I hate doing chores, but they are a necessity in life. I try to think of them as a good, productive way to keep moving and help my pain. Plus the psychological impact of getting them done and feeling like the house is cleaner always makes a huge different to my wellbeing too.
At the moment I am really enjoying doing some skipping. It’s something I can do at home and a 15 or 20 minute workout can burn a few extra calories and help me meet my daily fitness goals. Any exercise you can do is always beneficial, but I find I’m more motivated when I’m doing something I enjoy.
Keeping my mind busy
These primarily focus on keeping my mind occupied so I’m not thinking about or focusing on my pain. Some of them I can combine with rest too.
7 Writing my blog
This has been a huge distraction for me over the past few months. I absolutely love it, and I also love that my readers are finding it useful and are learning from it too. It’s more than just writing posts – creating images, planning my editorial and publishing schedule, and networking with other bloggers. These are skills that I love developing and my confidence and blogging knowledge is slowly increasing the more I do.
If you’re thinking of starting your own blog, read my post 10 tips for new bloggers.
8 Spending time with family and friends
Having someone with you to keep you occupied is an excellent way to use distraction as a pain relief. You can stay at home and invite friends round for a coffee or a meal (if you have the energy and motivation to cook) or a takeaway. Or sometimes penciling some time out with friends in the diary is a good way to get out the house and away from your normal environment.
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9 Adult colouring
I got in to adult colouring books when I was recovering from my surgery to have my coccyx removed. You can read more about this in my pre-surgery and post-surgery blog posts. I was able to stand up doing my colouring and because it was a very mindful activity, I wasn’t thinking about my pain or worrying about the past or the future. I was also very proud of some of the colouring I did.
10 Puzzle books
I’m not very good at many puzzles, but some of them I really enjoy. My favourite are Kriss Kross, and I also enjoy word searches and some of the simpler Sudoku. Like colouring, these are activities where you are in the present focussing on what you are doing, so are very beneficial.
How do you distract yourself from your pain?