How Do I Cope with Chronic Pain – Ten Tips!
Posted by Thomas Bynde on June 21, 2018
Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash
Today’s blog comes from Alice Garr who writes about living with Chronic Pain on her blog, Notebook And Glasses. Alice kindly sent Ability Superstore her top 10 tips on how she manages to live with pain every day, so we thought we would share the tips with our readers in the hope they might help you if you're living with the same condition.
"Everyone’s Chronic Pain is different and everyone copes in different ways. I’ve had my Endometriosis pain for nearly 20 years and my sitting disability for over five. During that time, I have had to learn and adapt ways to cope with it, rather than fight it. Below are my top ten tips…
Tip One – Accept Your Pain
The first thing to do is to 'accept' your Chronic Pain. Make friends with it and change your mindset and the way you think about it.
In the early days of having it, this can be tough to do. You just want to question why you have the pain and find out what's causing it. This is particularly the case if you don’t yet have a diagnosis.
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 it.
Although I don't have any treatment options, since I changed my mindset to 'accepting' the pain, I have been much more positive and means I am now putting my energy and focus into to the right things.
Tip Two – 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.
Tip Three – Keep Busy – Don't Overthink
There may be days when you want to question things – why me, how will I find ways to cope with the pain today, why is the pain so much worse than normal. You may just have to accept that denial/questioning is part of the change curve. So, try to keep yourself busy and not think about the pain. Thinking too many negative thoughts is not good for anyone. Think about what you can do to keep yourself occupied.
When I was recovering from my surgery for six months and wondering if I’d have a job to go back to, I used to do some adult colouring to keep myself distracted. Or I'll play some puzzles on my phone, lying down instead of sitting. I even signed up to Now TV and took advantage of the three free months of Sky Movies that was on offer at the time. These days I fill my spare time by writing my blog.
Tip Four – Do One Thing at a Time
Focus on one task at a time. As Paul Foster, CEO and Founder of The Business Therapist once said, 'He who chases two rabbits catches neither'.
If you have lots of things to do, spend some time putting them into a priority order and working out a schedule, putting the things you need to complete at the top of the list, and then working your way through them one at a time.
The progress might feel slower than doing lots of things all at once, but you’re more likely to get things done quicker this way, as your energy will be on doing one particular task. As you start ticking things off the list, you’ll feel also feel a great sense of achievement.
Tip Five – Don’t Be Harsh on Yourself if You’re Having a Bad Day
If you're having a bad pain day and you aren’t up to doing anything, then that’s absolutely fine. Don’t be harsh on yourself. Bad Chronic Pain days are part and parcel of life living with this condition. Try to accept it and do what you need to do to get yourself through it.
Whenever possible, try to keep doing tip number three so that you have something else to focus on besides the pain. This could be as simple as reading a book, watching TV or chatting with someone on the phone.
Tip Six – 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 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 really bad.
Tip Seven – Write Down the Positives
Every day I write down at least one thing that makes me happy, or something that I'm grateful for. At the end of a year I open my 'Happy Box' and there are at least 365 cards in it with things I am happy for.
I find this is a great way to help me focus on all the good things in my life. It’s all too easy to focus on the negative, or the things that go wrong.
Tip Eight – 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 I appreciate that not everyone has that special someone around them.
I also try to connect with those who understand my condition. I joined a Coccyx Pain Group on Facebook a few years ago and it was one of those lightbulb moments in my life; making that connection with people who 'understand'.
I also set up a Chronic Pain network, as I try who have Chronic Pain.
Tip Nine – 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 five minute one can do wonders for our wellbeing.
Tip Ten – Treat Yourself
Last but not least, my final tip is to treat yourself. Having Chronic Pain is tough and we all deserve a treat from time to time. I often buy myself my favourite pick ‘n’ mix sweets, or some chocolate, or a new notebook or something off Amazon, because I love getting post.
I also make sure I have something in my diary to look forward to – a weekend away, a dinner date, or a duvet day watching films on TV."
Thank You, Alice
Ability Superstore would like to thank Alice for her Top Ten Tips for dealing with Chronic Pain. We hope you found this blog helpful.
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