Distraction Ideas for Busy People with Chronic Pain and Fatigue

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I never understood the concept of distraction for chronic pain and fatigue. For my twenties, it took everything I had to continue to try and do life. Work, collapse for evening, repeat. Life was my distraction from the symptoms (though ignoring them did me no favours in the end).

distraction ideas for chronic pain and fatigue

Then I had small children. Four in seven years. I was either completely struck off (in bed, medication, desperately hoping to sleep so I could escape the pain), or I was having to push through.

There was no time for niceties like distraction. I didn’t have time to consider the idea.

Now, I know better. We deserve to do things we like and enjoy. Even if we barely have the energy to manage life. Our quality of life matters so much.

So today, I want to share some distraction ideas for your enjoyment, even if you have a busy life too.

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This is such a wonderful option because it’s so low key. My suggestion to someone recently was to keep one small pack of coloured pencils (36 pack of Faber Castell?) and a colouring book (there are so many options available) handy that you can get out and put away easily. You can do it beside your children or with your children. I’ve been known, when my children are getting restless, to quietly get out the supplies and sit down and colour. They usually join me, and then it gets much quieter.

Here’s two things I had to learn to really enjoy colouring. One, put aside perfection, it’s not about being excellent at it and creating works of art. And two, set a timer if your neck is an issue. At first I would let myself get carried away and it would cause long repercussions!

Art journaling

In a similar vein to colouring, art journaling is something I’m fully embracing recently. I completed a Therapeutic Art Life Coach Certification with Transformation Academy. My love of learning is wonderfully sated with self-paced courses that give me valuable tools for my blog! Art journaling is wonderful because it gives you the choice each day to approach your journaling practice however you feel called. You can write, draw, create mandalas, or a mood board and much more.

I love it so much, I created my own art journal. But you can use any scrapbook from your local dollar store, department store or Amazon. The ones I created have one side blank and one side lightly lined on each opening and a small but cute embellishment. Because I like pretty stationery.


Since I have improved enough to read again, I’ve been insatiable. I read about 80-100 books per year. Fiction and non fiction. I love it. And it’s a really good habit to model to your children. So don’t feel bad for curling up on the couch with a book and letting them do the same. The library and second hand book stores are great places to find good reads.

For those who prefer audio – you can try audible plus from Amazon. When I’m flaring and am in bed, but can’t sleep and have done my Yoga Nidra already, I listen to audiobooks. If concentration is an issue then I choose ones I’ve already read over and over like Pride and Prejudice.

Watching TV series

This is more likely one to do when the children are napping or have gone to bed, or are playing quietly outside. But watching TV series is a wonderful way to distract ourselves. When I was trying so hard to continue working full time, and I didn’t yet have anything that helped me, the only thing I could do in the evening was watch TV series (on DVD) that I’d already seen.

We are loving Amazon Prime Video lately. You can get a $3 30 day trial here. We’ve been watching The Vicar of Dibley from 1992, it’s hilarious. But there’s tons of new stuff there too.

distraction ideas for chronic pain and fatigue

Gratitude Practice

Leaning into an easy gratitude practice is a great way to distract oneself from the negative/hard stuff. This is a gorgeous, simple journal I created to facilitate a practice. But you can find all sorts at bookstores or on Amazon. You could even just write three things in your normal journal.

Gentle yoga

You can do this beside your children as they play, or with your children depending on their interest level. Moving gently with the breath is a wonderful way to tune into the body in a positive way.

You can grab this free gentle, beginner’s class here.

Sitting outside and watching the birds

I love being outside. Gentle, meandering walks. Or watching the birds. I love it all. There are so many benefits to being outside. And it’s free. After my operation, I would stand on my deck in the Winter sunshine for as long as I was able to stand at the time. When I was walking a little more, I’d walk across my patio. Now I’m walking to the end of the street and back. It’s glorious. The children love it too!

Pick me up song list

When you’re right in the thick of things and you can’t do much else, a good pick me up song list can help. I have several songs that make me feel great. 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton is my favourite for hard mornings. Create one on your Spotify account, or however you stream music.

distraction ideas for chronic pain and fatigue

My 8 Distraction Ideas

So these are just some of my distraction ideas. What are your favourites?

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