Managing thoughts and feelings

Pain can be stressful and upsetting to deal with. Chronic pain can affect work, hobbies, social lives and relationships. If pain carries on for a while it can lead to feeling worried, frustrated or low. 

Difficult thoughts and feelings are an understandable and normal reaction to pain. Low mood and anxiety can make the pain system more sensitive. They can make pain worse or make it harder to cope with the pain you have. 

People who find ways to manage their thoughts and feelings often feel more confident in managing their pain, feel less down and find that their pain gets in the way of life less. 

Here are some ideas for dealing with your thoughts and feelings.

  • Make time to do things you enjoy - Often people prioritise things they think should be done. This can lead to giving up things they do for pleasure. Allowing time for things that help you feel good is really important in managing pain. If your pain gets in the way of fun activities it can help to plan for how you can change this. 
  • Talk to people you are close to - Good support from family and friends is one of the most important factors in coping with illness. 
  • Reconnect with people - If your friendships have dwindled, consider joining a group or taking a course to meet people.  
  • Get informed - Make a list of your questions and worries and discuss them with your GP, physiotherapist or other healthcare professional.  Sometimes having information can help reduce worries about what might happen.
  • Be kind to yourself - Step back and think what you might say to a good friend or family member in your situation. Make a note of those responses to remind yourself when you are struggling. 
  • Get active - Exercise can help boost your mood. Choose something you enjoy and which you can do without flaring up your pain. Our information on pacing may help with this.  
  • Step back from your thoughts - Mindfulness has been shown to help in dealing with difficult thoughts.  
  • It is normal to feel sad, worried or frustrated at times. If you are anxious or your mood is low for most of the time and this starts to get in the way of what you are able to do you should seek help. 

Talking therapies have been shown to help people with mild to moderate depression and anxiety.  You can usually refer yourself to your local talking therapies service without seeing your GP. We provide talking therapies via our Think Wellbeing Service in Halton, Knowsley, St Helens and Wigan. Alternatively, you can find your local service on the national NHS website

Medication can also help some people. Your GP can prescribe medication and advise on where you can go for extra help.

If you feel that you are no longer able to cope or are not in control of your situation advice on how to obtain help in a crisis can be found on our Help in a Crisis webpage