10 Coping Mechanisms for Dealing with Chronic Pain

I have been afflicted with constant pain for nearly 20 years.  This has caused to me quickly exit a good job because I didn’t know how to handle the pain with the work and the comments from co-workers. The constant pain has affected my coping skills, relationships, social interaction, mindset, and mental well-being.

Here are some ways I have found, tried, or heard from others in the same situation to lessen your pain, even if temporarily. Sometimes, you just need a break from the pain.

Here are some strategies to alleviate your pain:

  1. Get Distracted. Do something that you really enjoy. Talk a with friend. Focus on what you’re doing at that moment. I have a friend who was a fun conversationalist. When is high I call and simply say ‘talk to me’.  She can take a simple uneventful moment and talk about it in a way to get me laughing. We don’t talk about the pain, she doesn’t ask how I am doing. We just laugh together.
    • Focusing intently on something you enjoy lessens your stress and tends to put the pain into the background, rather than at the forefront of your mind.
  2. Breathe. Deep breathing exercises can help your body to relax, which also helps to ease pain.

    • To perform deep breathing exercises, block out any distracting thoughts and pay attention to your breathing. One method – close your eyes. Slowly breathe in through your nose to the count of 4. Hold it to the count of 4. Exhale through your mouth to the count of . Hold to the count of 4. Repeat the process.
  3. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. For me, in high pain moments, I tend to neglect the healthy diet needs. I will either have no appetite and not eat at all or I will gorge on carbs – give me the crackers and breadsticks. I must consciously make the decision to eat properly. A healthy diet offers many health benefits and can offer some relief from chronic pain.
    • Eating nutritiously aids your digestive process, improves your blood sugar levels, can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, and helps to keep your weight under control. All these factors can affect chronic pain.
    • Eat nutrient-rich foods such as fruit and vegetables, along with lean protein sources and good fats. Avoid pre-processed foods and snacks, such as cereal, chips, and frozen dinners.
  4. Limit alcohol. If you’re struggling with chronic pain, you may be taking medications which are influenced by alcohol. For some alcohol may offer a temporary relief. While we are seeking even momentary pain relief, the consistent use of alcohol can lead to more health issues. Use alcohol with great caution.
  5. Reduce stress. If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, or stress, your body may be more sensitive to pain.  The deep breathing exercises previously mentioned can help reduce stress. Here are some other ways to reduce your stress level. Find what works for you.
    • Listen to calming music. For me it is soft jazz or meditative worship music. What music calms you?
    • Take a warm bath or shower.
    • Read a good book that engages your mind
    • Watch your favorite movie or TV show
    • Journal, write about your pain.
    • Pray. Tell God you hurt; cry out with your frustrations, pain, fears, and anger.
  6. Take time to exercise. If you feel chronic pain, you might avoid exercise, because you have no desire, thinking that it will make the pain worse. Studies show that exercise may actually help soothe your pain. Talk to your doctor for clarification of what exercise you can do.

    • Exercise eases pain because endorphins are released which may help to block pain signals.
  7. Join a support group. Many people choose to isolate when in pain. Consider joining a local or online support group geared toward those with chronic pain. This will offer you an opportunity to others about your experience, making you feel less alone and give you extra support to help you cope. The group members also share pain-reducing techniques that have worked for them.
  8. Talk with your doctor or counselor. Seek help from professionals. They can give you additional techniques for your particular type of pain or refer you to a pain specialist that can help even more.
  9. Get a massage. A massage from a professional may help to relieve stress and tension. It is a common method used by those suffering with chronic pain.
    • Speak with the massage therapist about your pain before the massage. A massage therapist is trained in methods that can help reduce your pain or, if your pain is due to an injury, can even help the injury heal quicker.
  10. Learn biofeedback. With this technique, you can learn to gain control over your involuntary bodily functions, including pain, by using numerous visual and auditory feedback. Professionals of biofeedback therapy may be found in many hospitals, medical offices, and physical therapy clinics.
    In this process, you wear sensors that let you see or hear various bodily functions, such as your pulse, digestion, body temperature, and muscle tension. These appear on various monitors as beeps or squiggly lines, which you learn to control.

For issues such as chronic pain, you may also work with various brain waves that reflect the pain that you’re feeling and learn to lessen the pain.

Living with chronic pain can decrease your quality of life. When ending the cause of the pain is not yet in place, you can learn to take control over the effect of the pain of your life. Don’t isolate yourself. Find what triggers a point of relief, even if temporary, to allow you to continue to find hope and joy in your life.

You are afflicted by pain, but you are not defined by your pain.

These strategies are some ways to get started. What have you found that works for you? 

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