Tools to Reduce Chronic Pain
Tools to reduce chronic pain need to start with an action verb. That’s right. You have to take action! What you have is probably permanent and incurable so your job is to take action to feel better. And you can increase your pain-free days by taking ACTION so that you DISTRACT yourself from thoughts about your body.
Did you notice that I used the word ACTION four times in the above short paragraph?
A large selection of tools is required for those with persistent pain. If it is chronic, permanent, and incurable, you need pain management tools. Please feel free to use these ideas as a starting place for your personal list.
This list will continue to grow so return often. Please send me ideas that you would like added to email@example.com or use my Contact page.
ACCEPT that you have persistent pain.
It’s one of the hardest things to do. Have you been fighting this for years? I used to say, “Well it’s not curable at this moment, but who knows? Maybe tomorrow I won’t have this.”
To come into acceptance of what is happening in your body means you stop fighting what is. This tends to be the point where you look for tools and take action.
ADD to your comedy toolkit.
Or start one. This can be anything that makes you laugh or at least smile inside. Movies, podcasts, books, funny glasses, costumes, cards, cartoons or little kids doing full body laughter are some options.
“Funny or Die” is a comedy video website founded by Will Ferrell, and Adam McKay that has a large list of skits to select from.
This skit about therapy “Stop It” with Bob Newhart and Mo Collins might make you smile.
Comedy is so subjective that it’s difficult to recommend books or movies. You know what tickles you, so your job is to gather a few of these items in one place and use them!
BODY SCAN and find all the pain free places in your body.
When you scan your body, you notice all areas and not just those that feel painful. You may be feeling like your entire body hurts, but when you take the time to scan, you’ll find that it is not accurate.
Place your attention to those areas that feel good and notice how quickly your whole body feels better. Read my blog for detailed information on body scanning.
CALL a friend and ask how THEY are doing.
Your friends can become too focused on your health and life. You don’t want all your calls to be about you. Start a phone call with, “I’m calling to see what’s happening in your life. I’m getting really bored of just talking about me.”
Keep it light, but help your friends understand that you are here for them too. For more information on the importance of maintaining friendship, read my blog.
CHANGE your exercise every few months. Move to the best of your ability every day.
You’ve got to exercise to reduce your pain and you don’t want to get bored. Make sure to have a large variety of programs you can choose from. Last week I did yoga, Tai Chi, lifted low weights, took a walk, and danced.
The Fitness Marshall (Caleb Marshall) posts new videos often. I find myself smiling whenever I dance to his routines and he always uses upbeat popular music. He also has a dancer showing how to do the moves if you are a beginner.
Start with one and when you are ready add another. You might want to intersperse these throughout your day especially if you tend to sit a lot.
Thirty minutes and one-hour videos are available.
CLEAN part of a closet.
Seriously. Or a drawer. Or a box. Or a counter top. Do any kind of cleaning or organizing that forces you to place your mind on the action and not on your body.
CONNECT with family.
Whether it is your family of origin or the family you have created throughout your life, connect with them (unless this would cause psychological or physical harm).
COOK with your full attention.
The great thing about cooking is you need to place your focus on the task. Chopping and stirring are mindful tasks and allow you to be distracted from pain.
CREATE a self-care list and do one items a day.
For some reason, women with persistent pain tend to balk at self-care. You need to take care of yourself during the day with at least one small act of kindness and self-compassion.
What makes you feel good that requires no one else? A long bath? Time away from technology? Time outside? And also have a list for after shelter-in-home that depends on others like a massage, facial or pedicure.
DISTRACT yourself by taking small actions.
I’ll focus here on chores. Keeping your house clean can seem overwhelming at certain times. Drop the notion that this is the DAY you clean the house. No. Today you wipe the bathroom counters. Tomorrow you’ll clean the toilet.
Do a little something each day and completely focus on the task. Get fully into it and allow your mind to move away from your body’s aches.
DO slow movement like Tai Chi or Yoga.
This not only improves your balance and muscle strength; it also reduces stress. Here’s a great article from Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School Tai Chi and Chronic Pain.
EAT anti-inflammatory food.
Your job is to do everything that will reduce inflammation in your body and food is a great place to start. There are too many credible sites to name. I’ll start you off with Foods that Fight Inflammation from Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School.
EDUCATE others about your disease.
If you have a long-time persistent pain disease, you have probably had friends and family say, “I’m getting tired of you cancelling on all our dates!”
Give them credible sites that explain what you are going through. Take responsibility for this and understand that they do not know what you are going through if you have not shown them.
The US Pain Foundation asked those with chronic pain to submit videos for September 2019 asking us to tell others what we want them to know about these diseases. I was honored to be selected. Here is the video.
I hope this helps you with your friends and family.
ENGAGE in hobbies.
You may have dropped all of your hobbies because it hurt to do them or they took too much energy.
Remember to start slow. Take one small action. Fall back in love with the things you love to do.
My favorite actions right now are needle-felting little gnomes while watching a show, cooking, knitting, reading, and writing. I can stand or sit depending on how I feel.
IMAGINE great possibilities for your life
Recall great memories from your life. Look at pictures of your happiest days and if you don’t have any pictures, close your eyes and remember moments of great delight. Feel all the feelings and in this place imagine what is next for you.
What is possible? Write this down and just let it flow. No editing. You may be surprised at what comes through.
JOIN an online support group.
Do your research and find the best one for you. Here’s detailed information on support groups.
LEARN how to play a musical instrument (keep it simple).
Discover the joy you can feel when strumming a ukulele, blowing on a harmonica or pounding a drum. Remember that this is just for you. Pick an instrument that makes you happy.
LISTEN to how you speak to others about your pain.
“Never own a disease. Reduce the amount of time you talk about it. Refuse to allow illness a place in your consciousness.” RawforBeauty.com
It’s fine to talk to your few confidants about how you are really doing. The idea is not to broadcast all the nitty-gritty details to everyone you come into contact with. Learn a new Be aware of the words you speak when those outside of your inner circle ask about you.
LISTEN to uplifting and/or funny podcasts.
Start by searching for some of your favorite authors, comediennes or uplifting speakers. Your choice for this is as unique as what makes you laugh. Schedule to listen to at least one a week.
LOOK at items daily that make you smile.
I have placed all over my house small groupings that soothe my soul.
You might be surprised if you share space that others don’t even notice the wee additions to your home.
If you look around now, you will probably find that you have some of your favorite things out where you can see them.
MAKE goals that YOU want to accomplish.
Most of our lives have been spent with people telling us what our goals should be. You decide. Read here for some thoughts on why goals change when you have chronic pain.
Stare out the window. Sit in your favorite chair and for a few minutes let the world go by. Close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths and release them. Do absolutely nothing for a few minutes.
Don’t create a to-do list. Don’t think of your shopping list or errands. Don’t plan meals for the week.
Just hang out, be still and breathe. Call it meditate or mindfulness or whatever you want to. Just do it.
POST a list of things that distract you from your pain and do at least one of them each day.
READ using whatever form works for you.
I am doing all of my reading on Kindle right now because of the libraries being closed during this time of the Corona virus. Start to notice how when you are in the midst of a good story that your pain is less noticeable.
Find out what this means for you.
Do you need to limit watching the news? Time on the Internet? Stop reading every single news article posted on the Corona virus? Meditate a few minutes each day? Ask for fifteen minutes of your own time when you get home from work? Do you need help with housework? Do you need to take a short walk daily?
Reducing stress helps you learn to relax. When you are relaxed you are less stressed.
Everyday practice one stress reducing technique and find out what works best for you. Everyone is different. Oh…and drop your shoulders down to where they are supposed to be. You will instantly feel better.
RUB lotion/oil on your body slowly after a shower or bath.
Find a lotion or oil that is soothing to you. When you get out of the shower, take some time and pay attention to all parts of your body. Place your thoughts on kindness, compassion and comfort while spreading this across your skin.
Most people that I have spoken with over the last month are having sleep issues. This unknown future because of Covid-19 is disrupting many sleep patterns that previously worked.
If you can, it’s a good idea to avoid napping during the day. You may need a nap especially if you are on sedating drugs for your persistent pain. Set an alarm and limit it to 30 minutes.
Remove the TV, Laptop, tablet or phone from your bedroom (or at least shut them off). Read the SleepFoundation.org’s article Lights Out for a Good Night’s Sleep.
Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.
Regular daytime exercise helps regulate your sleep cycle.
Avoid caffeine after 3:00 pm. Many of you may have to stop drinking it before that, but learn how it interrupts your sleep.
Do your research on good sleep hygiene and practice as much of it as possible.
Make sure you practice all the rules of good sleep hygiene as good sleep is extra important for you.
TAKE deep breaths throughout the day.
USE a virtual reality headset.
Ruben Castaneda in U.S. News and World Report wrote How Virtual Reality Can Help Treat Chronic Pain. “…research suggests VR can help alleviate the anxiety and pain of patients suffering from acute and chronic pain” which gives hope to those living with daily pain.
WALK and slowly increase your distance over time.
This slow increase applies to whatever form of exercise you are able to do. Graded exercise eliminates much of the chance of being so sore you can’t get out the next day.
Do you have someone you can walk with? Having a buddy makes it more difficult for you to cancel if you are not feeling well. Walking and talking to another or looking at nature takes your attention off of your body’s issues.
WRITE down three things you are grateful for.
You’ll quickly learn how gratitude heals chronic pain.
This list will continue to grow so return often. Please send me the tools that you use and find helpful to firstname.lastname@example.org or use my Contact page.
I am a Master Hypnotherapist, Certified Nutritional Consultant, and Reiki Master teacher for over 20 years. I share information on how to reduce chronic persistent pain. Even though your diagnosis may be different than mine, I understand what you are going through.
I impart transformative powerful tools that can help change your thoughts about chronic pain. You CAN manage how you feel.
You refuse to let pain be in charge of your life!!!