Coping with pain in public is a subject that our sufferers deal with constantly
The Facial Pain Association has great resources and publish regular articles. The following article was published by them in Aril 2021 and provides great coping tips
How to Handle Facial Pain in Public
Facial pain can make even the most routine outings no longer seem fun or meaningful. But going out can help you maintain your normalcy, which will help you to distract yourself from the pain. And with the warmer weather, there can be many more opportunities for such distractions. Below are tips on how to deal with pain in public, so that you can still enjoy yourself while out with family, friends, a significant other, or by yourself.
Know when to go out
Know what causes your attacks and know how to recognize when is a good time to stay in and when is a good time to go out
Fluctuation in the barometric pressures can cause swelling, which can cause increased irritation to the nerves which could lead to an attack
Force yourself to go out
This can be beneficial for your mental state. By surrounding yourself with good friends or family, you are distracting yourself from facial pain attacks. Creating memories that don’t have to do with the pain can be called upon when you are suffering and need to escape. In addition, positive environments create positive thinking- and we all know the power of the mind.
Alone or with someone?
Know your limits- if you know that going out may cause an attack and you don’t want people to see you like that then opt to go alone. If you know that you want the support in case of an attack, bring a loved one. Having someone with you can distract your mind and then you won’t have time to worry about an attack (the mind is a powerful thing!)
When you are out, being able to draw on some simple coping mechanism can alleviate your anxiety about the possibility of a pain flare, and if you should have one, these exercises can be very helpful:
- Eight count breathing
- Take a breath through your nose over an eight second span
- Hold this breath for an eight count
- Let out the breath through your mouth slowly over eight seconds
- Repeat 8 times
This helps to calm your mind and relax your muscles.
The skin between your thumb and pointer finger is a pressure point. Locate it by pressing the thumb against the index finger. The point is located at the highest spot in the bulge of that muscle. Applying pressure to this point helps to calm your body and mind. Warning: do not try this if you are pregnant.
Whatever works at home
If you have successful strategies for coping with the pain when you’re at home, don’t hesitate to try these when out. These could include:
- Heat- carry a hand warmer usually used while skiing in your bag that you can use if needed
- Essential oils or pepper cream- if you find these to help you, carry a small vial/tube in your bag.
If you feel uncomfortable letting others know you are having pain and don’t want to draw attention, these are some tricks for excusing yourself without drawing attention:
- Say you have to use the restroom. This leads to a quick and easy exit and no one will think anything of it.
- Silently get up and go for a walk (works well in large groups). A large group has so much going on already that your sudden absence won’t be noticed by all. Those who notice should know why you left.
- Take a sip of water (can be useful if opening your mouth doesn’t bring on pain. This can cause a momentary lapse in conversation and it can allow you to calm your body.
- Offer to go grab something (anything at all). This allows you to leave the situation without seeming out of the ordinary, you then can take as long as you need to return (don’t forget the said object you offered to go get).
How do you say no?
- It is always okay to say no. You know your body better than anyone else and therefore you should make the executive call. Those who care about and love you will respect your decisions.
- Usually a gentle way of saying no will go over best- for you and for the person involved.
- Using a gentle tone and way of wording will keep you relaxed which won’t aggravate your facial pain.
- If you’re calm, the other person will be too; they will want to know you’re alright and by speaking calmly, you can better give the message that you are indeed fine you just need to take it easy.
- Sometimes you may not feel like you have a choice – a family or loved one expects you to go out.
- Understand loved ones are trying to help when they force you to go out. This won’t be your favorite thing to hear a loved one say, but sometimes tough love is the best way to see that they care about you. They only want the best for you and to see you enjoy life- they are only trying to help you