I began developing this topic several weeks ago before encountering speed bumps which gifted me with another bump in life—a bad case of shingles, to which the doctor comforted, “Since you got the Shingrix vaccine, you will have a lighter case”. That was some comfort then, but not for long because shingles has not only tortured me for a month, already but gifted me with yet another speed bump--Postherpetic Neuralgia, which can last a month, nine months or longer. Consequently, these maladies are draining my usual strong stamina and taking up valuable time. But as per usual, I’m going to get the good out of all I’m going through and help as many people as I can.  In fact, I’m going to crash this blog by yelling from the roof-top that distractions is the principal remedy for managing shingles’ complication.


Research: Postherpetic neuralgia (post-hur-PET-ik noo-RAL-juh) is the most common complication of shingles. It causes a burning pain in nerves and skin. The pain lasts long after the rash and blisters of shingles go away. The nerve fibers get damaged during an outbreak of shingles. Damaged fibers can't send messages from the skin to the brain as they usually do. Instead, the messages become confused and heightened. This causes pain that can last months or even years. There's no cure, but treatments can ease symptoms. For most people, postherpetic neuralgia limited to the area of skin where the shingles outbreak first happened gets better over time.


The article suggested 15 pages of exercises which I printed only to have my PT daughter-in-law advise me to limit exercise to walking. Another article advised distraction as the best way to deal with neuralgic pain.  How interesting, especially since I’m writing a blog on how to manage distractions to encourage my readers and friends who have expressed disgust for giving-in to distractions, that they are one of their worse time-wasters and they want help in doing away with them


Research: Distractions are a part of all our lives. While we can't avoid them all, how well we deal with them, in general, is often a key indicator of our success. While distractions are often different for each of us, some common distractions tie us all together.


But on the other hand: Distraction is a way to relieve pain by focusing the mind on something other than pain. With distraction, a person's mind is busy paying attention to something other than pain, which can make the presence of pain more tolerable. People can distract themselves with activities such as watching TV or listening to music.  Playing with a pet, baking cookies, writing a blog, making a phone call, taking a walk, reading a book, drawing, etc.


I’ve become irritated with myself for allowing distractions to tempt me away from my original project or plans.  We all know the negative side of distractions. As I chatted with a neighbor today regarding distractions, he said “They either annoy or entice”.  My focus now, is to provide a positive side of distractions, elevating them to a higher rating. My personal appreciation for distractions was the morning I looked out at the sunrise and spotted a white bag snagged in one of my bushes. I put my coffee cup down and headed to dislodge the unsightly bag only to discover that the yard was unusually wet. Yes, there was a leak in the water pipe above the bush. That was a fortuitous distraction—and also an illustration of serendipity--finding something beneficial accidentally.

The instructions are: Focus on pain-free areas:  If you are hurting from pain somewhere in your body, concentrate on another part of your body that isn’t in pain. If your hands are pain-free, write, draw, bake cookies, make a craft, play with a pet, call a friend, play a brain game, etc. Focus on not limiting yourself to what you can’t do, but focus on what you can do. Take your mind off of your pain area.

The Value of Self-talk:

Cognitive behavior--thinking positively—is the best way to out-smart pain and control decision making—telling yourself the truth. In plainer words—making yourself remain focused on a strong decision which has been made, such as deciding to focus on a hands-on or mind-on project: knitting, sewing, filling photograph albums, walking, swimming, hiking, praying, movies, writing notes of encouragement, sending birthday cards, etc. 

Counting your blessings is helpful hint for choosing a pleasant distraction: name all the things that you can do without pain; people whom you enjoy and respect; friends at church, synagogue, school, job, community club where you are a member.

Name the things that you have for which you are thankful: a comfortable bed, TV to watch, bird feeders to fill and enjoy, plenty of food, safety, clothing, warm or cool home, quiet surrounding, attentive neighbors, good health, loving family and on and on. Learning to distract ourselves is a positive goal and a very helpful mental tool.  Some are helped when we refer to this as self-talk.  The older one gets, the more they talk aloud to themselves.  You might as well get started while you are young.

This afternoon I practiced switching my mind from pain to other things a I took my normal walk with a book and a phone. The neuralgia grabs my attention until I see a neighbor walking her puppy a few feet in front of me.  I wave to her and make my way to where she stopped.  I was able to ask her a question which I had intended to email her about. A nice visit, completely unaware of my pain. There’s a trick in transplanting painful thoughts to talking with someone.

Later in my walk I stopped to visit with who I thought was the owner of a business trimming bushes, only to find out he is a good friend of the owner with the same first name and same birthday. We had a lovely visit that erased my pain for 10 minutes. Now that I’m writing, I’m unaware of the pain.  Keeping our minds on something more important is the drill.

We find ourselves in a situation of exchange. This is not only good for handling neuralgia but other painful thoughts or situations. Eventually, the knack of shifting your mind away from pain becomes normal. It’s like a new brain game----how long can you avoid thinking about pain.

A friend suggested identifying and recording your most appreciated and least enjoyed distractions which helps in staying in charge of your projects and their time-frame. We can control distractions that needlessly consume our discretionary time. Teaching children to differentiate between annoying, enticing or helpful distractions and how to get the good out of them is a helpful and enjoyable teachable exercise. Bringing precious time under control requires constant vigilance.

Encouraging others is the name of my favorite game.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Cor. 1:3-4 NIV.

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Heb. 12:1 NIV).

Never be lacking in zeal but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Rom. 12:11,12 NIV.