Living with Chronic Pain

The Importance of Rest


Rest is an important factor for coping with chronic pain. The act of resting can vary individually. Also, rest is not the same as sleep. Examples of rest include sitting quietly and reading a book, relaxing while coloring, or staying home to watch a movie instead of going out.

The concept of rest sounds simple; however, it can be difficult for individuals to allot time to rest. It may cause the need to cancel or reschedule plans, or to dismiss certain tasks or responsibilities.

The importance of rest

Individuals with chronic pain should prioritize rest for various reasons. They include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Rest is an essential part of activity pacing, in which individuals balance periods of activity with planned periods of rest. Too much activity can fatigue the body and mind, which can exacerbate pain symptoms and increase pain levels. Activity pacing involves resting even when pain levels are reduced, which allows for more consistent levels of activity over time.
  • Obtaining adequate rest on a regular basis helps the body function as optimally as possible. It reduces levels of stress, which contribute to increased chronic pain. Stress can also negatively affect mental and physical health.
  • Rest is especially critical when experiencing an acute flare-up of chronic pain. Flare-ups may be related to inflammation, and rest is often necessary to reduce inflammation. Continuing activity during a flare may worsen swelling, irritation, and pain symptoms.
  • Rest is most beneficial when incorporating it into everyday life. This includes taking additional rest when needed and focusing on enjoying the benefits of rest. Instead of feeling guilty for taking time to rest, reap the benefits it provides.

Additional sources: U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Psychology Today, Medium, and Inland Pain Medicine

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