If you’re suffering from chronic pain, a simple but helpful tool to consider is journaling. It doesn’t involve much (just a pen, paper, and the willingness to sit down and write), but it can be quite useful for pain management.
The Benefits of Journaling for Pain Management
Keeping a pain journal allows you to regain control over your symptoms. It is a great method for reflection and personal insight, providing clarity and awareness on your “pain story”. Overtime, writing can help you to notice patterns surrounding your pain, such as what worsens or alleviates the symptoms, helping you better manage it. Tracking your pain symptoms can also help improve the trajectory of your treatment plan because, when discussed with your doctor it can provide useful information on possible treatment options.
Writing out your thoughts, feelings and triggers surrounding pain acts as a great emotional outlet. Writing forces you to release pent-up feelings caused by chronic pain, as you reflect and release negative recurring emotions and thoughts surrounding it. Overall, when done long-term, pain journaling promotes positive beliefs and emotions surrounding reoccurring pain experiences.
How to Pain Journal
There are a variety of ways in which you can incorporate pain journaling with no one way being better than the other. Whether you are free-form writing or following a set of writing prompts, the goal is to use whatever method feels best to you. However, to make the most of pain journaling follow a structure that enables to you to better understand the full story of your pain.
Some helpful pain journaling prompts to help you form your structure are as follows:
- Where is the pain?
- Describe the pain’s intensity.
- Describe what you were doing prior to the onset of the pain.
- What is the timing of the onset of the pain?
- How long does the pain last?
- What are your thoughts and feelings surrounding the pain?
- Wha activities help alleviate the pain?
- Are there any other associated symptoms?
- Describe how the pain interferes with activities that you may usually do (or wish to do).
- How do you feel about its interference with your activities?
When to Write in a Pain Journal
There really are no rules when it comes to keeping a pain journal, write as little or as often as you like. You also don’t have to write as soon as the pain hits you, as this may not always be doable at the time. However, if you make an effort to keep your journaling times consistent, the consistency will help make it a habit. You also may find it to be more helpful to jot a few thoughts down and go into more detail when you have the time. Overall, find what works for you so that you can make the most out of your pain journaling.
If you’re not quite sure where to start, try downloading and printing this CNA resource to get you started: Calgary Neuropathy Association Pain Journal Make adjustment to this tool so it suits your individual needs.