Stress and Chronic Pain : Living With Chronic Pain

Written by: Tanvi Vinay Gangavali – MA (Psychology)

Last updated date : February 24, 2023

Chronic pain is stressful. Unfortunately, living with chronic pain is complex. It creates lot of stress. It also affects your physical and emotional health. Stress can also trigger chronic pain symptoms.

People cope with chronic pain in many ways. Some ways are helpful whereas some may also cause stress. Some people try to push themselves through pain. They also refuse to “let the pain win.” This means you end up feeling stressed. You also feel worse because you cannot do much and do not like to rest. They tend to follow the motto “no pain, no gain.” This makes you feel frustrated with your pain and you feel like you are worthless.

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Chapter 1:

The Cycle of Stress and Chronic Pain​

Living with chronic pain causes stress. Everyone’s pain is different, and there are also many triggers. Stress, depression, anger, anxiety or fear, unhelpful thoughts, isolation, can create more pain signals in the body. Chronic pain can be a source of stress. Chronic pain also makes it harder to work. It also affects your personal life. Resting |or sleeping is also difficult. You want a way to relieve or escape the pain. Chronic pain can cause stress. But, even stress can make the pain worse.

Chapter 2:

Coping With Stress and Chronic Pain : Breathing Exercise​

Living with chronic pain every day is not easy. To relieve stress you can do breathing and relaxation exercises. You can either lie down or sit. You can do this whenever you feel tensed or stressed. This can be done every day to be more relaxed. It takes a few minutes and can be done anywhere. Doing it as part of your daily routine will benefit you the most.

  • You can do it standing, sitting in a chair with back support, on your bed or the floor.
  • Be as comfortable as you can.
  • You can wear loose clothes if that makes you feel comfortable.
  • If you’re lying down on your bed or yoga mat, you can place your arms a little away from your body and keep the palms facing up. Keep your legs or bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor.
  • If you’re sitting on a chair, then place you can place your arms on the arm rest.
  • Keep both your feet flat and hip-width apart on the ground if you are sleeping or standing.

How to Do It

  1. First, allow your breath to reach deep into your belly. Do not force it.
  2. Inhale from your nose and exhale from your mouth.
  3. Breathe in gently and regularly. If you are okay, you can count from 1 to 5. Initially, it is okay if you cannot reach till number 5.
  4. Then, let your breath flow out gently. Do not pause or hold your breath. You can count from one to five again.
  5. Keep doing this for three to five minutes.

Chapter 3:

Tips for Coping with Stress and Chronic Pain​

Stress is part and parcel of life. There are many ways to relax your body and mind and also reduce your pain. Consider the following steps that can help change habits and improve your sleep:

  • Stay Active – Do not let pain take over your life. Keep yourself active.
  • Stretch and Practice Good Posture – Try full body stretches, gentle yoga for about 10 to 15 minutes daily.
  • Take Control –. There’s a solution to any problem. Taking control of your problem helps you plan and find a solution.
  • Know Your Limits – Be active but know your physical limitations. Make a plan with activities that you are comfortable doing with your pain.
  • Exercise – Stay healthy with low-impact exercise. For example, yoga or walking.
  • Interact – Call a family member or talk to people. With greater social support you will feel less sad or anxious.
  • Distract – Distract your mind from the pain. For example, watch a movie or take a walk.
  • Take Medications Carefully – If you take medications then take them on time and as told by your doctor.
  • Maintain a Positive Outlook – Living with chronic pain is hard. Be more positive and also try to find solutions.
  • Schedule Enjoyable Activities – Taking part in enjoyable activities. This also helps to decrease the effects of chronic pain and stress.
  • Monitor Your Pain and Tasks Daily – Keep a book to note your ‘pain score’ on a scale of 1-10. This will help to track your pain. You can also note what activities you did throughout the day.|
  • Get the Sleep You Need – Poor sleep often can worsen the pain. Good sleep practices can improve your sleep and also make you feel relaxed.

Chapter 4:

Some More Tips​

  • Avoid Unhealthy Habits – Don’t use alcohol, smoking and caffeine as your ways of coping. This might give temporary relief but the problems will not disappear.
  • Help Other People – Helping others or volunteering can make you more resilient. It also helps you to look at your pain positively.
  • Massage – Massaging your body is also helpful. It helps to relax and reduce tension in your body. It also helps deal with pain and feel better.
  • Eat a Healthy Diet –. A well-balanced diet is important. It also helps you to keep your body vitals under control. You can eat a low-fat and low-sodium diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and yoghurt can also be added to your meal.

Chapter 5:

Bottom Line​

Chronic pain and stress are connected. Every person may feel stressed depending on their mind and body level. Some ways may help you to destress whereas some may not. Some may feel like they are not helping at all for now but if practised regularly can help you feel better in the longer run. There might be days when you feel that you cannot do anything. It is okay. Do not be hard on yourself. Take it slow and easy. The key is to do whatever you can do comfortably. Also, do not try to make it look like a task or punish yourself if you cannot do it. Stress and Chronic pain consume most of your life. Also, Living with chronic stress is not easy. Managing your emotions is the key to coping with chronic pain.

At Epsychonline, we have designed courses for managing chronic pain. Enrol for a course on our website to know more about how to deal with stress and chronic pain.

"Quick online learning, thanks!" Susan

92 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount