By Diane LaChapelle Ph.D., LPsyc
If you have lived with pain for many months or years, you might find that your life has narrowed, become focused on pain, and lacks joy and pleasure. This happens for several reasons.
- Your pain or injury might prevent you from doing activities you used to enjoy. This can be a bigger problem if your favourite activities used to be physically demanding, such as hiking, playing hockey, or running.
- You might find you are using your limited energy and coping resources doing the things you think you “must.” These tasks could be working full-time, cleaning the house, shovelling the driveway, or cutting wood for winter. The things you “want” to do might include a hobby, socializing, and relaxing. When you use all your energy on the “must-do” types of tasks, little or no energy is left for fun activities.
- You may find you have fewer friends and social engagements because you’ve repeatedly turned down invitations in the past or because you worry about being a burden to others. Perhaps you are worried about needing to leave a party earlier, asking for a drive, or not being as fast a walker as others.
Having fun should be a priority
When we stop engaging in pleasurable activities our mood worsens and our pain feels more intense, and when all of these happen, it becomes increasingly hard to get motivated. But adding some fun to your life is absolutely essential – you should make it a priority! It will help improve your mood, your relationships, and your energy level.
To help get started, have a look the Pleasurable Activities Scale on the Drs. Goldstein website
Find one activity that you can add to your week on a regular basis and one activity you can add to each day. Once these become routine, you’ll start feeling better and will want to add more.