20 Ways to Try to Distract Yourself From Pain

20 ways to try to distract yourself from pain

Very often we need to learn coping skills when living with chronic pain. One coping skill which should never be overlooked is distraction.

Finding a distraction is so important.

Depending on pain levels, I might not manage to spend twenty minutes painting, but I might be able to enjoy watching a favourite television show. My pain won’t disappear – it’s not a cure – but if I can become distracted enough to relax, I will be able to cope with the pain better. My pain might keep reminding me that it’s still here, but even just a few minute distraction from it at a time can make a huge difference.

My favourite distractions

I’ve put together a list of some of my favourite  distractions. Like everything else in life, what helps one person, might not help other people. But isn’t anything worth trying when you are in pain?

1. Television

We have a multitude of channels on tv. I could spend my time watching quiz shows, dramas and wildlife documentaries, but really my favourite television distraction would be reruns of old sit-coms like Only Fools and Horses.

If you have never seen Only Fools and Horses, then you need to.

2. A – Z

This probably goes back to my childhood. During family parties at Christmas we played A – Z games. The subject could have been anything from types of food to the names of movies.

I now do this if I am having a bad day or struggling to sleep. It can distract me from my pain for a wee while and it gets my head into another place.

I use subjects like animals, countries or song titles. Or rather than choose a specific subject, I simply look around the room and find something that starts with every letter of the alphabet. That can often mean getting creative with some letters, but (thanks to having Coeliac Disease) I always have xanthan gum in my kitchen cupboard. And I am quite partial to zesty lemon mousse, so there could be one hiding in the back of the fridge. And there’s nearly always an empty tin of Quality Street floating around somewhere. (Why are those tins always empty?)

Distraction ideas. A - Z of Animals. In pic - Butterfly, dragonfly, giraffe, ladybird, monkey, owl, penguin, zebra.

3. Craft

Speaking of getting creative, there is nothing more distracting and satisfying than getting crafty.

I enjoy making cards – birthday cards, new baby cards and anniversary cards. I start and completely lose track of the time. It would be quicker driving a shop and buying a card, but definitely not as much fun.

The internet is full of brilliant crafting ideas from macrame to origami, model making to woodworking and rock painting to flower pressing.

Besides being a distraction from your pain, hand crafted creations can make wonderful gifts.

I have a distractions board on Pinterest with a few ideas you might enjoy looking at.

4. Movies

There’s nothing like watching an old favourite movie (or a new one) to try to take my mind off my pain. Actually, very often, I only manage half a movie, because I fall asleep! Not the fault of the movie – pain is tiring and painkillers often make me sleep.

Last night I watch a cute and lighthearted film about a pug called Patrick. I did manage to stay away for the whole film.


What’s you favourite type of movie? Comedy, action, thriller, mystery, rom-com, horror or a good old musical? It’s good to have a supply of movies at your fingertips (or Netflix).

5. Books

Whether it’s on paper, downloaded online, or even an audiobook, it’s always great to get really absorbed in a good book.

I used to enjoy visiting the library and picking up a few books, but when you live with pain, it’s not always easy to go out and do that. Aren’t we lucky to have the internet nowadays! If you look at Google Play, you will find a huge selection of books and audiobooks which you can download. Some cost next to nothing. And Project Gutenberg has over 58,000 ebooks available to download completely free of charge.

6. Music

Music – what would the world be like without music? My taste is so varied – I could listen to anything. Might be Karen Carpenter today. Queen or Abba tomorrow or even a bit of Dean Martin. Sometimes I need music to be loud and distracting. Other times, some quiet, calming background music is perfect to help me do some relaxation exercises.

7. Online games

I’ve whiled away many hours playing online games. So many to choose from and, the best bit, most are free to play.

Whether you play Scrabble, tetris, or simply burst bubbles, they get your brain working, and can keep you distracted.

Distraction Ideas. Computer games. Tetris

8. Write

Writing became a hobby for me when I had to take early retirement due to my health 25 years ago. Most of what I have written, people have never seen, but that doesn’t matter. It’s fun, enjoyable and it’s often therapeutic.

Keep a journal. Start a blog. Write about your childhood memories. Write about your pets. Write stories. Write poems. Write anything.

9. Puzzles

By keeping your mind active, puzzles can be a great distraction.

Jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, word searches and Sudoku are all fantastic distractions for me.

You can access lots of free puzzles online.

10. Learn Something New

This is one of my favourite distractions from my pain. Pain has a habit of numbing the brain. Medication on top of the pain, makes it even worse. I believe it’s important to try to keep our brains working. So learning something new is a worthwhile distraction.

Perhaps you could learn a new hobby? Or learn to play a musical instrument. Or the names of the capital cities in every country. Or the names of the planets. Or another language!

Distractions for pain. Learn something new.

11. Read Blogs

Mine please 😍 And others. I love travel blogs – I don’t leave the house much, but some of those travel blogs share some gorgeous photos of places I’ve never been to and probably will never go to. I get to enjoy the travels from the comfort of my armchair.

12. Learn Words to a Song or Poem

Learn words to your favourite song or poem. I sing all the time. (Badly!!) I also sing the wrong words most of the time. Occasionally I actually google lyrics and learn them. Sometimes my own are better though!

13. Knit and Crochet

Get out the wool, because this distraction is also practical…knit scarves, crochet tops, make toys for children.

Distract from pain - crochet or knit. toy artist mouse

14. Get Arty

I know people say they’re not artistic, but really, everyone can be. I used to say I couldn’t draw, then was talked into going to an art class a number of years ago. The teacher insisted that he could teach me. And guess what? He did. If I can learn, anyone can.

Whether you draw, paint, doodle or just colour printed pictures, you feel a sense of achievement, as well as distracting yourself from your pain for a while.

Colouring isn’t just for kids. It is a really popular hobby for adults, and can be therapeutic. There are some free colouring sheets you can download from the following sites :
Art is Fun
Faber Castell
The Maven Circle

15. Old Photos

I could lose myself for hours looking through old family photos. They bring back happy memories and and I normally laugh at my old clothes and hairstyles.

16. Toys and Games

Build models, play with Rubik’s cubes or just play board games like Scrabble, chess, draughts or monopoly.

Distract from pain. Play with children's toys. Play with lego. Don't stand on the lego

17. Call a Friend

Phone a friend for a chinwag. Or better still, get the kettle on for a cuppa, and ask the friend to pop round for a visit.

18. You Tube

You tube is full of funny and entertaining video clips. Watch dopey dogs and crazy cats, and you’ll find yourself laughing the hours away.

Or learn your new hobby from other enthusiasts who share their skills there.

19. Gratitude List

Pain can bring people down and if there’s one thing which can help lift us back up, it’s to think of things we’re grateful for.

20. Visit my Facebook Page

You’ll find posts like these, these and these. And if you fancy chatting, I’m normally never too far away.

If you live with health issues, what do you do to distract yourself? I love hearing back from readers, so please do drop me a message in the comments section. And please share this post on social media.

Thank you for reading.


45 thoughts on “20 Ways to Try to Distract Yourself From Pain

  1. Chronic pain can be made worse by stress, anxiety, and depression. Not only can our negative emotions and mental state make pain worse, but pain can make us more depressed, stressed, and anxious. Great list to help stop the vicious cycle of chronic pain and chronic depression or anxiety.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Scott J DeNicola

    For me, music has always been a great distraction from most anything. Music has a way of making you forget your stress, your pain, your anxiety even if just for a brief moment. I would recommend anyone suffering from chronic pain to find themselves music that they enjoy. I’ve always found the more I focused on pain the worse it seemed to get. Any distraction is a good one. Great tips.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I find that distractions can be so important, and you do need a few options because sometimes you’re just not able to focus or do certain things (like arty stuff when you’re feeling uninspired or writing when you can’t focus and concentrate). Great suggestions! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love your list! I can easily get lost in a good book. I also think that calling a friend is a great idea—so often people don’t know what kind of day you’re having and don’t want to intrude. If you call, they will know you’re up for a chat or visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Can’t beat a good book, can you? I often think a book is a better distraction than a movie, because we really get our head into it. A book can totally take us into another world.


      1. erica3639

        I’m working on a post about veteran suicide, because the statistics are insane. Talking to a man who spent 15 years and 7 deployments as a Marine, my question was, how do we stop those kinds of thoughts? His answer was distractions. Which made this post even more important for me to read!

        I’m good at some of these. I love music, and a good tune is something I can easily get lost in. I crochet while I watch tv, and that is easily a favorite for me. Because I can multitask (I don’t do one single task with nothing else very well) through paying attention to the tv for my mind and the crocheting keeps my hands busy at the same time.


  5. Trish

    Getting creative is my favourite distraction. I tried learning to crochet once and by the time I’d managed to wrap myselp up in so many knots it was like being trapped in a spider web and I had to get a hunky firecrew to come and rescue me, my distraction was complete! Oh, ok, I made that up – except for the being crap at crochet bit! This is another great post, Liz, full of excellent suggestions.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. lforsythe7040

    These are all great ideas. When your mind is left idol that seems to be when it causes the most problems by focusing on exactly what you don’t want to focus on. Getting immersed in something you are passionate about be that writing or a good book can be a great distraction.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Swagata

    All the distractions you have mentioned here also help to reduce our anxiety and depression, which usually are associated with chronic illness. These are a great but easyly accessable list of activities. Walking, physical activities, yoga, board games and cartoons are some of my favourite activities to keep myself distracted from physical or emotional distress.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You shared some very good ideas here! loved that! Personally, I love music, movies and books when I need a distraction.. Depending on the pain level !
    But I loved your idea of playing A-Z : it can be great with the kids! thank you it’s a great suggestion

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This post has come at the right time, I’ve just had a surgery and need to take it easy for a couple of weeks. Love being pampered by hubby but pain is like a pain in the butt. I don’t want to be constantly in zombie land with all the pills. I totally agree with you watching favorite movies, series on telly distracts one from the pain. I read and do online puzzles. As for learning how to knit, well would love to do that but when I’m pain free.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I’m sorry to hear about your surgery. Post surgery pain is normally pretty bad. You always feel that you should be feeling better than you feel. Enjoy the pampering, and watch all your favourites on tv and hopefully you’ll pick up soon. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. J Petersberg

    I also have pain all the time. It becomes very demanding. I can distract myself with a hobby for a short time. Sometime only a few minutes, then the pain becomes too much. But I go back to the hobby after a rest. I love adult coloring books. I will look at the links you shared.


  11. Luna S

    Crafting is a great one it really helps you keep your mind off of things, I personally love painting and coloring in detailed coloring books.


  12. OK, I do most of what you put in your post. Let me tell you of my most recent distraction. I am watching the April the Giraffe while they are waiting on her newest baby to decide to show itself. I did this two years ago and boy did I get through some difficult times. I joyfully admit I am hooked on watching a graceful giraffe walk around pooping and tossing her hay.


  13. Add yoga and meditation to your list, especially “body scan meditation”…both are wonderful distractions and yoga increases blood supply to painful areas and using your breath is a fabulous coping strategy when the going gets tough. Great post!


  14. I’ve found that pain is relative so something that is no big deal to you can hurt someone else. I’ve also learned not to ignore it, usually a impending sign that something isn’t right. Great list!


  15. Music, gratitude and writing for sure are my go-tos as well. They really not only help me to distract me from the pain but also to remind me that the pain does not define me and I have so much amazing things in my life.


  16. Life sucks sometimes and pain is part of it. My coping mechanism is losing myself in trance and trying to numb myself from everything. Works fine always.


  17. Kendra | Self-Care Overload

    I loved reading this and the ideas you have are great! Everyone dealing with pain should know about these tips. Keep doing what you do, it helps!



  18. Pingback: Small Things are Actually Big Things when you Live with Chronic Pain – Despite Pain

  19. Jennifer Carfora

    These are all useful tips for distracting yourself from pain. When I was in labor with my second son I waited too long to get an epidural. I was also induced so it magnified my labor pains! I breathed slowly and counted as I almost broke my husband’s hand LOL.


  20. Pingback: Writing About Your Pain Or Illness Can Be Helpful – Despite Pain

  21. Pingback: What is Life Like with Chronic Pain? – Despite Pain

  22. Pingback: How to be Positive When Living With Pain – Despite Pain

  23. Pingback: How to hold on for one more day : A List - Seeking Serenity & Harmony

  24. Pingback: How to get Help in a Trigeminal Neuralgia Emergency – Despite Pain

  25. Pingback: How Chronic Pain or Illness is Affected by Stress – Despite Pain

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 )

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.