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3 Ways I Distract Myself From Chronic Pain

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Pain is probably the symptom that affects my life the most. I am always in pain; everyday I wake up with pain in some part of my body and every night I go to sleep practically writhing in pain. Pain is what limits me and keeps me from doing a lot of things that I would love to do. It is a bully. There are many things I do to combat this bully — taking medication, using heat/cold, using a TENS unit, etc. Sometimes the only thing you can do is distract yourself, so I fill my days with one distraction after the next, hoping I can focus on something else if even for a brief moment.

1. Arts, Crafts and Other Hobbies

I have started a lot of hobbies as a way to distract myself from pain. When I was in my teens I began to write poetry about my experiences with pain. This was a distraction for me, a way to focus that pain outward. I think writing is very therapeutic and a great way to deal with the negative feelings associated with living in chronic pain.

I recently started to do artwork. I have found that when I draw and paint I get into a sort of intense focus on whatever I am doing and I seem to forget the world around me and am able to ignore my pain pretty well. The downside with this is I sometimes don’t realize the way I am sitting or how I am drawing/painting is either causing me pain somewhere else or making my pain worse. I am starting to learn I must only do this in short bursts and pace myself so I don’t cause another problem for myself, but art is a fantastic way to distract yourself and to focus your pain into your drawings and paintings.

Scrapbooking is another thing I can focus on when I am in pain. I am a very crafty and artistic person so I find that all kinds of arts and crafts are where I can focus my energy the best. I get lost in making the perfect scrapbook page.

Sewing and knitting are two hobbies I have recently taken up, but I find that often I am in either too much pain to begin with or I end up in too much pain afterwards to really be able to lose myself in these hobbies like I do with writing and painting. But on my already-semi-good days, these hobbies do help.

2. Immersing Myself in a Fictional World

A big one for me is watching TV shows — and not just watching but binge-watching them to the point where I am almost obsessed with the show. I find that if I can find an interesting enough show I will be totally immersed and forget the world around me for a little while. I have even ventured into watching anime and shows from other countries like Korea and Britain. I find I can forget my own problems for a little while by focusing on these fictional worlds.

Reading is great in the same ways I mentioned above. I am able to immerse myself in a fictional world. I am able to become someone else and forget my pain for a little while. I love reading books that are part of a large series. I am a fast reader so the more books the better!

Playing video games is a lot like watching TV and reading because you are engaged in a fictional world. Playing video games is great because it is less passive than watching TV shows and it requires you to do more. Just like watching TV and reading, you forget your surroundings by focusing on your character. It helps a lot if the story is good in the video game. Games these days tend to be a lot like watching a movie or TV show and often have a very advanced and developed universe.

3. Focusing on Others

Being around other people. This is a big one. Other people can help take your mind off of your pain. Other people can give you stimulating conversation and make you laugh. Other people can also make you realize just how much pain you are in because you can’t do the same things they can do. This is where you have to find the right people. Find people who you feel you can be yourself around, pain and all. Some people aren’t this lucky. It is a hard thing to find, but I have gotten very lucky in this aspect and owe a lot to my two best friends as well as my mother and my brother.

Finally, I want to say that having a pet to take care of is another great distraction. I have a wonderful dog named Lincoln who is a source of joy and comfort when I am in pain. I recently got two rabbits, Willow and River, and I find I can ignore my pain for a little while if I am able to take care of another living being who needs me.

Oftentimes the only thing I can do about my pain is distract myself for a little while. Pain is something I face everyday and it is something that is very hard to ignore, but I find that at least trying to ignore or distract yourself can help for a bit. It is worth trying. If it wasn’t for my pain, I would never have found out how talented I am at writing or that I am at least a decent artist. If it wasn’t for my pain, I would never have learned so much about other cultures through watching their TV shows, so in a way I kind of owe my pain a small thanks — a very small one.

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Originally published: November 18, 2016
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