Agency for Clinical Innovation Logo

Episode4 Segment 4 - How can distraction be used to manage pain?

Fast Fact 1

Distraction shifts
your attention
away from pain

Fast Fact 2

You can make your
own distraction
plan or timetable


What is distraction?

Distraction means shifting or moving your attention away. It does not mean that the pain is no longer there. It just means that you use your brain to focus your attention onto something else. You can put your pain in the background and focus instead on playing games, counting, using breathing techniques and many other activities. One of the things that you can do to limit the amount of time you spend worrying about or being afraid of pain, is to use distraction.

What are some distraction techniques I can use?

Listed below are some distraction techniques that you can try. It is important to try these techniques a few times to see what works for you. At the start, it can be difficult to practise these techniques when you have spikes or  a high pain level, as your ability to concentrate may be less. So it is a good idea to practise the techniques you like when your pain is not present or when it is manageable.

Instruction

Listed below are some distraction techniques you can use. Click each box to learn more about the technique.

Counting

Deep breathing

Bubbles

Alphabet challenge

Listen to music

Audio books

Reading

Tapping fingers

Drawing/ Doodling

Craft or models

Walking and talking

Constructing

Apps

TV/DVD

Stress ball

Writing

Puzzles

Imagination walks

Massage

What’s in my world?


How can I design a distraction plan?

Techniques that you use throughout the day may change due to the environment, type of pain you have, and the people that are around you. For example, if you are in a classroom, at the shops, or at the movies, you might want to use techniques that are not disruptive to others. If you are at home, you might listen to music, use the stress ball, do a puzzle, or blow bubbles. If the people around you understand you have chronic pain, then you could also involve them in a distraction technique. Together you could go for a walk and have a chat, listen to your ipod, or make a model.

List below the distraction techniques you might like to use and have a think about the best place to use them.

Upgrading or increasing your level of physical activity can be challenging and sometimes stressful. It is your choice, but sometimes family or friends can keep you company, lend support and help you celebrate. Monitor your feelings and emotions and consider extra help when you  need it.

List below the distraction techniques you might like to use and have a think about the best place to use them.

User Activity

This activity is about identifying distraction techniques you might like to use; and where the best place would be to use them.

Instructions

Below is a table. In column 1 there are 20 distraction techniques you can use. In column 2 rate from 1-20 your favourite techniques, where 1 is your most favourite. In column 3 type in where it would be best to use the distraction technique. You can email or print off your list of distraction techniques.

Technique Favourite Options Where can I use this?
Counting
Deep breathing
Bubbles
Alphabet challenge
Listen to music
Audio Books
Reading
Tapping Fingers
Drawing/Doodling
Craft or Models
Walking & Talking
Constructing
Apps
TV / DVD
Stress Ball
Writing
Puzzles
Imagination Walks
Massage
What’s in my World