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25 Unexpected Coping Techniques That Help People Manage Chronic Pain

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Living with a chronic pain condition can be incredibly frustrating, especially when painkillers do little to alleviate the pain. Oftentimes those struggling have to go through much trial and error to find methods of coping that either reduce or distract from their pain.

To help those struggling to find relief, we asked our Mighty community to share some of the unexpected coping techniques they use to manage their chronic pain. Maybe some of the following can help get you through your own challenging flare days.


Here’s what the community shared with us:

1. “I play video games. It’s a distraction technique that has really worked because I have to focus completely in the game. It helps me most often while I am waiting for pain medication to kick in or when dealing with painsomnia.”

2. “I know it sounds a bit childish but I have a large (pillow size) stuffed bear that is very soft and silky. When I lie down… I cuddle my big bear and stroke his fur. It’s soothing and distracting and for some reason, it really helps me. It has soaked up a lot of tears in the past year.”

3. “I put on makeup in all different kinds of styles and then take pictures depicting how I am feeling!”

4. “I take a moment and try to stretch it out. Typically every day the love of my life will walk on my back and rub all the tense muscles.”

5. “My dogs. They give me so much joy, and oftentimes distract me from pain. When they lay on top of me while cuddling, their weight calms me down.”

6. “I take my iPad into the bathroom with me, prop it on a stool and binge-watch shows as I soak in a warm tub. Sometimes, usually weekends, I stay that way for hours. The warm water relaxes my muscles, and the TV/movies keep my mind off the pain as much as possible.”

7. “For my nerve pain I often find myself sticking my legs into the couch cushions. The pressure feels nice but I look a bit strange when I try to crawl into the couch entirely.”

8. “Humor. It’s a huge stress reliever! I make jokes about myself and my situation all the time. It makes me feel better when my friends can go along with it too.”

9. “Holding my breath for a few minutes without realizing it.”

10. “I dance. I was a pre-professional ballet dancer but had to stop due to chronic neurological Lyme disease. Now I dance around my house to relatable and inspirational music, some of them I even post on my YouTube channel. Most of the time I just improv what I’m feeling and dance to a song. It always makes me feel better.”

11. “Swearing like a sailor.”


12. “I try to keep my hands and my mind busy to distract myself. Reading, crafting like knitting, making jewelry. Makes me think about something else other than the pain.”

13. “I go for a long drive with the windows down, the music blaring and the heated seats on high. There’s something about the beautiful scenery that helps me calm down and relax.”


14. “Superhero movies/TV shows. It allows me to escape my pain for a while, and a lot of the characters are extremely relatable for different reasons – Supergirl has sensory issues, for example. It helps, even if it’s not always directly related.”

15. “Aromatherapy essential oils and incense.”

16. “I personally like to take my mind off it with human interactions. I have a few friends who know I love to talk. When I’m in pain my need to visit or speak to others grows exponentially. I am happy to talk about anything but myself or my pain.”

17. “To keep from clenching my hand when I am hurting, [I] wear padded workout fingerless gloves. They close with velcro, and keep my hands warm. When I have procedures at the pain clinic, I wear them and they are my comfort thing.”

18. “Sleeping. I take naps whenever anything is bad. It’s sort of a coping mechanism for me. To me, when I’m asleep, time passes and I don’t feel anything.”

19. “Crystals. I lay them on the pain spots and they absorb the heat of the pain and take the edge off.”

20. “Audiobooks are a great distraction for me because I don’t have to look at the pages like a ‘real’ book and hurt my bad eye socket. I pick ones with great narrators who can really perform well and it’s soothing. There’s also a sleep timer setting in the Audible app in case I want a way to try and fall asleep to it.”

21. “I cover myself in glitter and dress myself up to the best of my ability. Feeling like I look magical helps my self-perspective and helps cope through pain.”

22. “Meditation, meditation, meditation… It’s the only thing that calms me enough to try and relax. Guided is the best. It’s so relaxing.”

23. “Hot baths with epsom salts and essential oils while Spanish guitar music plays. Movie and beauty days where I put oils in my hair, wear a face mask and paint my nails if I feel up to it. All this distracts me from my fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis pain.”

24. “Laughing at inappropriate moments. Like while trying to tell the doctor how much pain I’m in… I laugh. While talking about my illness to others… I make jokes and laugh. Yes, laughter is the best medicine, but… I do it because I feel that pressure to make things more comfortable for everyone around me.”

25. “When it all gets too much, I plug in my headphones and crank up music from when I was young and illness-free. It takes me back and puts the biggest smile on my face. It also just puts me in a good mood and helps me relax by thinking on better times if what I’m going through at the moment might not be so pleasant.”

25 Unexpected Coping Techniques That Help People Manage Chronic Pain
Originally published: July 28, 2017
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