I have used art and creativity to cope with chronic pain since I have had chronic pain. I started with journals when I was young. I went to writing fiction. Then blogging. Poetry. And then drawing and painting.

It has nothing to do with being good at it. It has to do with being able to express myself and all the tangle of emotions that come with chronic pain in multiple creative formats. It really does help me cope. And there are more ways than the ones I listed the get into creative pursuits. There are so many of them I will not even bother listing them.

Creative pursuits and how it helps cope with chronic pain

Art therapy

You don’t need to go to a class to do art therapy or cultivate creativity into your life.

Research has found that art therapy can:

  • Reduce our stress
  • Increase our self-Esteem
  • Enhance our self-Awareness
  • Develop Interpersonal Skills
  • Decreases depressive feelings
  • Increases positive emotion
  • Improved immune system function

As a distraction

The act of creating requires focus and that focus is a great pain distraction. Distraction techniques are often used when we try to cope with chronic pain.

Researchers in this area have found that the act of participating in art making has the potential to distract from, and thus alleviate, perception of physical pain.3, 6-8 Individuals who were interviewed regarding their experience with chronic pain reported a decrease in their perceptions of pain while participating in art therapy.

Art therapy has also been found to be effective in addressing the types of psychosocial symptoms that may exacerbate perceptions of pain. Research shows improved mood9 and interpersonal dynamics,10 as well as decreased stress, anxiety and depression after participating in art therapy.

Pain Pathways

Self-Awareness

Creativity about our chronic pain is sort of a feedback loop. We put our thoughts and emotions into our art and in return it helps us think about our pain in new ways.

In using art therapy with chronic pain, these insights can serve as a catalyst for change — inspiring new perceptions of personal abilities and thereby promoting the acceptance and adjustment needed for self-management.

Pain Pathways

Personal fulfillment

For me, this one is pretty vital. I have a desire to fill time and feel productive and feel fulfillment in my life, when I am incapable of doing so much.


Living with chronic pain presents daily challenges and may cause an individual to feel a lack of personal control. Art therapy addresses this issue by using interventions that promote opportunities for problem-solving, decision-making and personal empowerment.

Pain Pathways

Writing

Writing for me is vital to who I am. I write fantasy fiction and publish it. I have written non-fiction for anthologies, and a humour book. I write as a contributor to a Restless Leg Syndrome Site. I blog and have for well over a decade. It a necessary part of who I am. Blogging is a journey and in that journey comes with it a lot of self-awareness. Even more so in my journalling. Writing is how I process the pain experience, think about it and the figure out how to cope with it.

My fiction work

Poetry

Poetry is more when I have an emotion I want to convey and I want to share that experience. I don’t write this all the time. I have to be in the mood for it. This is much more emotive form of creativity for me. I have written a lot of poems on the pain experience that get out that tangle of emotions that come with the experience of pain.

Art and drawing

I have only been drawing and painting for just over a year but it gives me a whole new way to express myself. I do love the visual way of expression and the focus it takes to work on improving the skills. Trying out different styles and mediums to express different emotions as well.

I made some prints from some of them actually: (Etsy Shop)

My spouse’s hobbies during the pandemic for his anxiety

My spouse had gotten into Paint by Numbers and Diamond Painting during the pandemic to help with the fact he has less to do, which drives him bonkers, and to help with his anxiety.

He does Winnie’s Picks for Paint by Number (Best Sellers List)

The 1st one we did together

Diamond Painting

I got him two Diamond Paintings of two of my favorite paintings.

Conclusion

It is an exploration to me not matter the format I choose. I have found it fundamental to helping me cope with chronic pain though. I open myself up to my emotions and the experience of pain, I reflect on that experience of pain, learn from it and it is cathartic to get it down in some format. Although, certainly, the element of personal fulfillment is extremely important to me. I am not sure what I would do without my writing pursuits. As a pain distraction it definitely helps with that, aside from the higher levels of pain, of course.

See more related topics

Migraine art
A migraine story in pictures and art
Art therapy: Drawing

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