Living with Chronic Pain

Using Creative Outlets to Deal With Chronic Pain


Creative outlets, such as painting, drawing, writing, or playing an instrument, can be beneficial for individuals with chronic pain. Doing an enjoyable activity is relaxing, which can help reduce the impact of pain on an individual’s mood. Creative outlets reduce stress and improve self-esteem. In addition, engaging in creative activity often requires focus, which provides a valuable distraction from pain.

Art that is inspired from the experience of living with chronic pain can be cathartic, allowing for the release of associated emotions. Drawing, painting, and other visual art mediums are alternative ways to express emotions that may be difficult to describe in words.

Working on a creative project also provides a sense of control. Because chronic pain is often unpredictable, control is a welcome change.

Inherent talent is not a requirement for exploring one’s own creativity. Mistakes are part of the creative process. Focusing on the process rather than the outcome allows for more creative freedom and makes the journey more enjoyable.

How do PainScale members use creative outlets to cope with chronic pain?

Ben S.
As a Covid project, I took bits and pieces I picked up at Goodwill and other resale stores and made my own versions of Fabergé eggs. All seven eggs (with a “surprise” in each) took many hours of drilling, dremeling, gilding, gluing and squinting. This was frustrating but good therapy for me. Handling tiny things is difficult for me, but I figured, “Use it or lose it.” I spent a lot of time dropping things! All modesty aside, the last one is my masterpiece, and now I am on to other projects.

Mary-Anne M.
I use cross-stitch as a creative distraction. My grandmother taught me how to cross-stitch when I was in middle school. On some days, just reading a book or watching television wasn’t engaging enough, so I started doing cross-stitch as a distraction from my pain. I do counted cross-stitch; the pattern is not printed on the cloth, so I have to pay close attention to the number and colour of stitches. The repetitive movement feels a bit like meditation. I keep some completed projects, and I gift some to good friends or family members.
(Pattern by Cloud Factory)

Sky Hawk Woman

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