Chronic Pain and Anxiety

Worrying about your next pain flare and how people may perceive you when experiencing facial pain is common in the facial pain community. Due to their nature, facial pain episodes and flares may happen at any moment, with or without warning. This can leave you in a constant state of anxiety and worry, taking you out of the present moment.

Often, we try to prevent pain before it happens, and attempt to take control to either stop or lessen the amount of pain we will experience. This is a natural response — trying to avoid or fight the pain. Unfortunately, it is not healthy for our emotional, mental or physical health. It can actually increase our pain.

The pain becomes an all-consuming thought; a difficult cycle of anxiety and fear that the pain will return. It becomes our focus.

To combat this, we find that developing a robust self-care toolkit containing ways to center our thoughts, move toward a positive mindset, and prioritize mental and physical well-being, are powerful ways to take control of these feelings of anxiety.

Yoga, Breathwork, and Meditation

One of the best ways our community has been able to reduce anxiety is through yoga, breathwork, and meditation. These practices allow you to pull focus back and reach a state of calm. We have found that through yoga, breathwork, and meditation, you can center yourself, be in the present moment, and focus on the things in life that make you happy. Breathwork can assist in shifting your energy, focus, and even lift your mood. Studies show that breathwork helps relax the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing fight or flight tendencies and thus reducing stress and anxiety. Anxiety is likely inevitable when living with chronic pain, but taking a deep breath, and reminding yourself of all of life’s joy in a calming environment is a good step to combat that anxiety.

Drawing and Art

Similar to yoga, our goal when combating anxiety is to center ourselves around calming activities and thoughts. You don’t have to be the best artist in the world to use art to find a sense of calm and joy. Art therapy has been found to connect people to their emotions, which is important when trying to reduce anxiety. Our community recommends crocheting, knitting, coloring books, or scrapbook journaling to help with anxiety.


When dealing with emotions, identifying what you’re feeling is a good step towards combating any negative emotion you are experiencing. Identifying how you’re feeling and acknowledging your own experience is a powerful way to take control of those negative feelings. One thing we have found to help our anxiety is to take power away from the feeling. If you can identify it, write about it, and take steps to combat it, then you are well on your way to being in control of it!

Identifying a Self-Care Routine

Finding what works best for you is so important when living with chronic pain. We’ve identified that yoga, art, and journaling help much of our community but how we individually practice these mechanisms can look different. Everyone’s chronic pain is different, and we all use different practices to live with facial pain. In the same way, anxiety looks different for everyone. Finding what works best for you will always be the best way to live with the cyclical nature of anxiety. After you find what works best for you, find time every day to practice self-care through your routine.

Always remember that your mental health is most important and should be a priority in your daily life. Routines will give you the space and permission to prioritize yourself.

As always, we are here for you through your chronic pain journey. If you have found something that has helped you, we’d love to hear from you and share your advice with our community! You can connect with us through our monthly support group, our social media accounts, and via email at [email protected].

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By filling out the form below, you will receive a free FPA Patient Guide and periodic updates on the management and treatment of facial pain conditions. We do not share this information with any outside sources.