If you have found many aspects of your life pushed aside because of pain or have found that pain seems to occupy most of your thoughts and behaviors, please consider the strategy of shifting focus in order to regain more quality of life.   

How does shifting focus help?

People often find that their perception of pain changes according to what they are focused on. For example, watching TV or a movie, or becoming involved in a hobby or interesting conversation can distract the mind away from pain. Participating in some enjoyable activities can help reduce attention to pain and can help you rediscover ways to enjoy life. 

Brain researchers have found areas in the brain that are very active during pain episodes. These same areas can quiet down when a person in pain focuses very intently on something else. This shows that we can have some control over how much the brain is focused on processing pain signals.   

A suggested approach to shifting focus

Pay just enough attention to pain to properly pace your activities and avoid doing any real harm. Otherwise, look for examples of times, even brief times, when your mind was so focused on something enjoyable or important that pain receded a bit into the background. Use these examples to strengthen your understanding that pain is experienced more intensely when you actually pay attention to it, and less intensely when you engage your mind with other activities. Start to fill your conscious awareness with other, more enjoyable things to focus on. This may take some work because the pain condition can make some former favorite activities difficult to do in the same way. However, with some effort and creativity, you may rediscover former sources of enjoyment and perhaps also discover new ones.

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