8 Healthy Ways to Distract Yourself from Pain

Distracting yourself from pain is a valid and effective pain management tool. Focusing on your pain all day and night can be extremely distressing. Indeed, finding moments where you can distract yourself from the pain can help you find momentary relief. 

Professionals recommend using distraction as a pain management tool; but, only if it’s a healthy distraction. It’s an excellent excuse to prioritize enjoyment. Do something fun; it’s good for you! 

an older woman spends time with her grandkids and she tries to distract herself from her pain.

This article will explore how to distract yourself from pain in healthy ways. Read on for some inspiration for distracting activities that may help you take your mind off of chronic pain

How Distraction Works for Pain Management

Pain is often described as a mind-body condition. So, mind-body techniques, like relaxation, meditation, and mindfulness, are quite effective for pain management. 

Interestingly, distraction can be practiced, like mindfulness or relaxation. When you are fully engaged in something you love to do, you focus your attention on it. You may begin to place less attention on your pain as you become more immersed. 

The next section will share some ideas for distractions. However, what works for you will usually be something you are personally interested in. Choose a hobby, interest, talent, or activity you love. There is no one-size-fits-all.

8 Ideas to Distract from Pain

Socializing 

Engaging with your friends and family can be such a good distraction. If you can’t organize a visit, then give someone you love a call instead. Did you know that laughing releases feel good chemicals in your brain which can help boost your mood? 

two older adults embrace with big smiles on their faces. They are socializing to distract from pain.

Crafting 

Do a craft – make something. It can be fun to do something you already know how to do or teach yourself a new type of craft. Learning counts as a great distraction. When you create something, you tend to feel productive and relaxed. 

Nature Walks 

Nature is so beautiful. Take in the sights, smells, and sounds of nature. While you walk, pay attention to your surroundings. Go somewhere new if you are feeling adventurous. Plus, walking is an excellent form of low-impact exercise that is often recommended for folks with pain. 

Bonus if you bring a friend or a pet with you!

Entertainment 

Watching a show or a movie is a great distraction. Choose a genre you’re interested in and try to pay attention to the story line, music, and set. Get your senses involved.

Music 

Listening to music can be therapeutic. There is tons of research on how music affects pain. That’s why music therapists are so helpful for people experiencing complex conditions. 

Pop on your favorite album. Sway to the music or sing along! 

a young woman closes her eyes as she listens to music coming from her headphones. she is using this music to help distract from her pain.

Reading 

Getting sucked in by a good storyline is wonderful. Cozy up with a book or read out loud to someone you love. If you find it difficult to read, you can listen to an audiobook.

Games and Puzzles 

Playing games or solving a puzzle uses so many parts of your brain. When you’re trying to solve a problem, you may find your pain fades into the background. 

You may enjoy board games, video games, puzzles, card games, or word games. It’s even more fun to play with someone else! 

Exercise or Sports 

Exercise or playing sports can be challenging while in pain. However, you may find that you can make adaptations to fit your needs or choose a lower impact option

Play catch with your family or try a new yoga routine. Any type of movement may help. It can even help to watch others play sports (e.g., watching your favorite sport on TV). 

a group of 4 older adults practice tai chi together

Activity: Build a Distraction Box!

A great way to make distraction a usual part of your pain management strategy is to make a Distraction Box. Keeping a box of your favorite activities allows you to store them in one place so you know where to look when you need a distraction. 

Include tangible items that you can use to distract yourself. For example: 

  • Books 
  • Art supplies 
  • Fidget toys 
  • Games

Conclusion

If you’re struggling with managing your pain, it may help to try to distract yourself. When you do something you love, you become immersed and can shift your attention away from pain. 

This website has a few opportunities for distraction. You can take a course, connect with other pain patients, or try one of our follow-along videos

Let us know in the comments what your favorite healthy distraction is! 

References

National Health Service. (2020). 10 ways to reduce pain. NHS. Retrieved from here

Pain Management Network. (n.d.). How can distraction be used to manage pain?. NSW Government. Retrieved from here

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