Pain can become the central focus of your life. It can feel like it is taking control of you and can affect almost every aspect of life. Self-management of persistent pain can take many forms. It may start with doing more obvious things that can help to reduce the pain, such as taking prescribed medications (if they are helpful), or using heat or ice. Beyond this, self-management is about stepping away from the focus on being comfortable, and from relief of the pain itself, and developing a focus on doing things that reduce the negative effects of having pain in your life.
- Understanding how persistent pain works can help to develop better ways of living well with pain.
- Accepting that persistent pain cannot be cured, but that managing it well can improve everyday life considerably.
- Stretching and exercising within your capabilities can help to keep you fitter and stronger, and can help with feeling better more generally.
- Not overdoing things on a better day can mean that the number of better days can increase over time.
- Doing something meaningful and valuable, even on a more difficult day, can mean that there is a purpose to life, always.
- Setting priorities each day can mean that the most important or valuable things are maintained.
- Relaxation can help to keep you calm and improve your mood.
- Mindfulness can help you to be okay with the fact that you experience pain.
- Learning to be patient with yourself can help to take some of the pressure away from life and allow you to do things in a way that looks after your pain level.
- Looking after your sleep patterns can help with being better able to meet the challenges and difficulties of everyday life.
- Having a back-up plan for setbacks to your first choice plans can mean that when things are more difficult, the most important things are still achieved.
For most people, self-management does not come easily or naturally. It takes time and practice, but it can be at least as effective as medication in improving quality of life with persistent pain.