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?
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?)
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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
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.