My top 5 ways to cope with chronic pain
Alice shares her advice of living with chronic pain, as well as how she stays positive and continues to do the things she enjoys
I'm Alice (Ali). I live in the north west of England with my partner and my two Westies. My blog Notebooks and Glasses is about living a positive life with chronic pain: my words and observations. I give real advice and tips and share experiences of staying positive despite having chronic pain. Through my blog I hope to encourage others to not let their pain stop them doing the things they enjoy.
I’ve had chronic pain since 2012. I’ve got a sitting disability, which means that when I sit down I am in pain. I have no diagnosis, and despite having my coccyx removed (my consultant thought it was dislocated in two places) my pain did not improve. In fact, since my operation in 2015, I suffer from neck pain too. My physiotherapist says this is caused by my 6 years of abnormal sitting, which has caused damage to my spine. Literally, by avoiding one pain I have caused another.
Everyone’s pain is different and everyone copes in different ways. I have had to learn ways to cope with my chronic pain rather than fight it and question why I’ve got it. Below are my top 5 tips to help others cope with chronic pain.
1. ACCEPT YOUR PAIN
This can be difficult, but accepting your pain and changing your mindset about how you think about your pain is the first step. My mindset changed after I had my surgery to remove my coccyx. I knew it was my last hope and was willing to give it a try to see if it would work. I also knew that if the surgery didn’t work, then I had to accept things for what they are and learn to find ways to cope with having chronic pain for the rest of my life. Since my mindset changed to accept my pain, I have been so much more positive and coped much better. It means I am putting my energy in to the right things.
2. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN DO, NOT ON WHAT YOU CAN’T
It is so important to focus on the positives, and the things you can do. When we focus on what we can’t do we dwell on the barriers in place and struggle to find solutions. This is something I learnt to do when I was getting workplace adjustments put in place at work. The focus was always on what I couldn’t do rather than looking at what I could do. When we switched our focus, everything got sorted much quicker and I got the adjustments I needed.
3. WRITE DOWN THE POSITIVES
Write down one thing each day that makes you happy or that you are grateful for. It doesn’t seem much at the time, but at the end of the year you will have 365 things to look back on and remember. This is another way to help us focus on the good stuff. It’s all too easy to focus on the bad things in life or the things that go wrong. And writing things down in this way can also help us remember things that have happened, a bit like keeping a diary, but it doesn’t take too much effort.
4. CONNECT WITH THOSE WHO UNDERSTAND
Search for local or online support groups to connect with other people who will understand your pain and what you are going through. Knowing there is someone out there who ‘gets it’ is really motivating and encouraging and makes you feel like you’re not alone.
5. TREAT YOURSELF
Having chronic pain is tough and we all deserve a treat from time to time. It can be big or small, something to have right now, or to look forward to in the future. Buy yourself a new book, go out for a coffee, plan a holiday or a date night with a loved one or a night out with friends. Doing something for you will make you feel a whole lot better.
What can you do to help cope better with your pain? What tips do you have for others?