Living with Chronic Pain

Distraction Techniques to Reduce Pain Levels


Focusing on pain can increase the perception of it. A valuable technique to shift the focus from pain is distraction. Distracting the brain from pain reduces the amount of pain felt, and also provides a sense of power or control over the pain.

Seven distraction techniques to reduce chronic pain include the following:

  • Crafting. Arts and crafts can be therapeutic by awarding a sense of accomplishment, while distracting from pain. Ideas for crafting include, but are not limited to, coloring, drawing, knitting or crocheting, making homemade cards for others, puzzles, and painting.
  • Practicing guided imagery. During guided imagery, an individual closes their eyes, breathes deeply, and imagines a peaceful scene. While focusing on thoughts, feelings, and the five senses, imagine the pain visibly floating away from the body. In addition to less pain, guided imagery can also ease anxiety and reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
  • Learning. Pain and pain medications can numb the brain at times. Learning something new is a distraction that also keeps the brain active. Individuals can learn a new language, how to play an instrument, or research different cultures or places in the world.
  • Looking through pictures. Looking through forgotten pictures is a nice way to experience happy memories from the past. It can also provide laughter at choices in hairstyles or clothing from previous decades.
  • Watching television or a movie. Becoming absorbed in a television show, movie, or online video is a simple and easy distraction technique. An engaging action-adventure movie and funny sitcoms are good choices.
  • Listening to music. Music can be a good distraction from pain. It can help “drown out” some pain, while placing a person in a different time of their life. Focusing on the lyrics or musical instruments can also be distracting.
  • Reading. A good book can easily transport readers to a different world. It can help reduce pain by focusing the brain on an imagined world instead of on the pain.

Additional source: Despite Pain

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