The goal of pain management is to increase function, improve quality of life and reduce one’s sense of suffering. The American Chronic Pain Association uses relaxation techniques as one of the necessary coping skills for dealing with pain. But when you are in a great deal of pain, it is difficult to relax. Relaxation, in part, is redirecting your thoughts off of your pain and on to something else that you enjoy. But, redirecting your thoughts can be difficult. To help you, take a moment, and to yourself say your alphabet and at exactly the same time count from one to 25. Give it a try; you might be surprised at the results. You see, you cannot do it. Why, because we have a one track mind. While we are thinking A, B, C, we cannot be thinking 1, 2, 3. So, during the time that you are trying very hard to accomplish this task you were not focused on your pain thus you reduced your sense of suffering, one of the goals of pain management. With practice you can redirect your thoughts off of your pain and on to other things.
To help you accomplish this, we have provided some activities that you might find useful. Referred to as “purposeful activities” or simply put, enjoyable activities, they can aid you in focusing your attention on things other than pain levels. Below you will find some suggestions for purposeful activities. Use your imagination and think about the things you enjoy doing.
My Favorite Things
As children we never really thought too much about playing. It was a natural thing all kids did. And, when we knew how to play, it didn’t take much to make us happy. However, somewhere along the years we often lose that ability to play, to use the simple things in life to entertain ourselves. Can you remember the last time you actually played? The last time you did something so simple yet so satisfying that you found you were lost in the activity. To help you better understand Purposeful Activities, we have listed some things that you might want to think about…
- Play Dough/clay
- Coloring book
- Jigsaw, word, and math puzzles
- Board and card games with friends or family
- Listening to music and singing along
- Simple crafts
- Easygardening (e.g., herb garden on kitchen counter that can be used for cooking)
- Painting - by numbers
- Simple wood working projects
If you use your imagination you can discover many other ways to play and enjoy the simple things in life that just might help you reduce your sense of suffering, if only for a little while. As you incorporate these activities into your daily life, you might begin to feel you have some control, if only a little, over your pain. Use your imagination and add to the list above all the ways you can redirect your attention from your pain and on to things that you enjoy. It can help if you allow it.