Living with Chronic Pain

Planning Inclusive Activities


Chronic pain is unpredictable and often comes with lifestyle changes. A great way to provide support to a family member or friend with chronic pain is to plan inclusive activities. This involves considering the needs and abilities of the individual with chronic pain to ensure they will be able to participate.

Ways to be inclusive

Taking steps to plan inclusive activities is appreciated by those with chronic pain. It also strengthens the friendship or relationship. Four ways to plan inclusive activities include the following:

  • Ask instead of assuming. Chronic pain varies in intensity from day to day. While it may be easy to assume someone can or cannot do things, it is always best to ask. Examples include finding out what they would like to do or if accommodations are needed in order to participate in a specific activity.
  • Plan flexible activities whenever possible. Chronic pain results in good days and bad days, and fatigue can be high or low. Making flexible plans allows a person to reschedule, cancel or adjust the activity if needed. It is important to be understanding of the need for flexibility and plan accordingly.
  • Do a little research. Chronic pain is highly individualized; therefore, researching the symptoms can help determine activities to pursue or avoid. For example, someone with arthritis may be better able to participate in a leisurely walk around the park than to hike on a steep path with uneven terrain. Someone with chronic fatigue syndrome may enjoy a movie night at their home more than a night out dancing. Research can help identify appropriate activity suggestions, while making those with chronic pain feel understood and included.
  • Make the activity environment accommodating. Whenever possible, make the activity environment comfortable and accommodating to help ensure that those with chronic pain can participate. Examples include having a comfortable chair or extra pillow available at game night, or planning the location of a picnic close to a parking lot to reduce walking distance. Modifying the environment so that the individual with chronic pain can comfortably participate is a great example of inclusivity.

Taking steps to plan inclusive activities is a simple way to be a kind and supportive friend or family member to those with chronic pain. It also helps the individual avoid loneliness, isolation and depression.

Additional source: The Mighty

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