ACTIVITY AND DISTRACTION
Activity is a way of altering pain perception by thinking or doing something besides focusing on the pain. This is a way of distraction from the pain and is a very important aspect of pain control and rehabilitation. It has been found, in fact, that activity is one of the best pain relievers that there is. Surely you have had the experience of being so absorbed in something, perhaps it was a game, a book, a show on television or some type of meditation that for a time you were unaware of your pain. This is almost a universal occurrence. One might even call this a way of escaping from your pain, at least for a time.
A good approach to this is to use it in conjunction with your relaxation techniques. Whatever works is good. Activity is beneficial. It occupies the mind. It reduces stress and depression and anxiety. You will need to determine what kind of activities or behaviors provide the best distraction for you. The more you are able to concentrate your focus away from your pain, the better you will be able to relax, the less you will be able to perceive your pain and the more enjoyment you will have from day to day.
Many yeas ago, Dr. Wilbert Fordice the University of Washington determined, in fact, that activity was one of the most potent pain treatments that were available to anyone. With appropriate activity and absorption or distraction, most all of the unpleasant things seemed to dissipate and engrossment and enjoyment is possible. One aspect of this that should be sought after by everyone is that we have limited control in changing external situations or conditions, but we have great ability to change internal experience and perception. With chronic pain, there is no question that emotional problems, increase stress, anxiety or depression can upwardly modulate the pain experience so that one suffers more. By the same token that same brain also has the ability to modulate down pain under the right circumstances. One of your jobs is to develop those circumstances and practice.
In chronic pain, this admittedly can be difficult because the pain is always screaming for your attention, but at low to moderate levels of discomfort, with practice and the right attention to the right activities, distraction can be accomplished and focus can be funneled away from the pain experience.
Like anything else, what we feed grows and what we starve withers. In other words, what you practice you get better at. With chronic pain, one gets lots of practice at focusing on pain, one gets good at that, but the opposite can be attained and I encourage you to explore this in books and in activities.