Distraction and Chronic Pain

I read somewhere that “Distraction is the most powerful analgesic of all.” I cannot find who said it, but I want to give thanks to this idea.

The Action of Distraction

When I am really focused on something and especially if I am laughing, my pain is not as strong. Sometimes, I don’t notice it at all. “…distractions are effective mechanisms for reducing pain,” said Jason Buhle, who conducted research as part of his doctoral dissertation at Columbia University.

Have you noticed that when you are completely engaged in a project, a tv show, a movie (especially of high intensity or funny), conversation with a friend, exercise, sex, dancing, or reading that you don’t feel your pain so intensely? It seems like it has almost moved to the background.

Observe these moments. This is your chance to change and feel better. When you notice them, you can see that your aches are not happening ALL THE TIME.

MH Johnson from the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Auckland said, “Engaging in thoughts or activities that distract attention from pain is one of the most commonly used and highly endorsed strategies for controlling pain.” Read the full article. How does distraction work in the management of pain?

I keep a list of things to do when I am having a rough time. I love cooking so I make our meals and flow into the chop, chop, chop and the stir, stir, stir. My thoughts go into the food just like the herbs and spices. Time passes where I am solely focused on creation.

Make a distraction list

Make a list before you need it and keep it posted. Here is one of mine:

  • Write down three things I am grateful for.
  • Open the windows and listen to the birds.
  • Pet Leeloo and enjoy her purr.
  • Make an excellent salad full of fresh veggies
  • Watch a funny cartoon.
  • Work on my book and get in the writing zone.
  • Meditate.
  • Use my virtual reality headset.
  • Learn a new chord on my ukulele.
  • Call a friend and ask how they are doing.
  • Do a crossword puzzle.
  • Listen to soothing music.

Erica Jacques, Occupational Therapist said, “Will distraction techniques take your pain away completely? Probably not. But they will help you devote some attention to other things, and perhaps make your pain easier to manage.” Click here for the full article.

Give these ideas a try and come up with your own. Notice how the action of distraction works for you.


Gail Sinclair, Master Hypnotherapist, Certified Nutritional Consultant, & Karuna® Reiki Master Teacher, works diligently to teach others how to work through the 7 Stages of Chronic Pain and Learn How to Thrive™. She lives with Trigeminal & Occipital Neuralgia, Rheumatoid & Osteoarthritis, & Fibromyalgia and continues to learn tools to turn her attention away from the persistent pain of her body.

You can also reach her at thrive@gailsinclair.com or at www.gailsinclair.com. Click here to contact her. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.