All ten footsteps – at a glance

Now you've explored all Ten Footsteps to Living Well with Pain. As you can see, there's plenty you can do to manage your pain – and to live well despite it.

It's a lot to take in. But don't worry if you can't seem to take it all on board at once. Learning to live well despite your pain is a journey. It will take time to develop the skills you need.

So treat this resource as something to keep coming back to, and use it to focus on the footsteps where you need most support.

To help you find the bits that are most helpful for you, here's a quick summary of all ten footsteps and the key ideas in each...

Footstep 1:

Pain and the Brain

  • Persistent pain is very different from the kind of pain you experience when you injure yourself
  • It goes on long after the original damage has healed – it's as if the brain can no longer 'turn down the volume'
  • Reducing persistent pain involves retraining your brain
  • Learning self management skills so you can live your life despite the pain is the best way to 'turn down the pain'

Footstep 2:


  • Acceptance is an ongoing journey of change, that takes time
  • People who accept their persistent pain find that it has less impact on their day to day lives
  • Acceptance is not about giving in, but changing your focus towards what you want to do with your life
  • Many people use mindfulness to manage their pain more successfully

Footstep 3:


  • Pacing is one of the key self management skills for people living with persistent pain
  • It can help you achieve your goals without increasing your pain
  • There are both helpful and unhelpful styles of pacing
  • Changing your pacing style could bring many benefits and lessen your pain

Footstep 4:

Setting goals

  • Having goals helps you to focus on the things that matter most to you
  • Developing goal setting skills will increase your ability to achieve your goals
  • Using SMART goals will give you a better idea of how to go about achieving them. And you’ll be far more likely to get there!
  • Writing down your SMART goals and your weekly steps towards them will help keep you on track
  • Don't forget to build in some rewards!

Footstep 5:

Getting active

  • People with pain find it helps to be more active even if it wasn't part of their life before pain
  • The key to getting fitter is to keep it going every day
  • Choose activities you enjoy, pace your activity – and reward yourself
  • Doing things with friends will help keep you motivated

Footstep 6:

Managing moods

  • It is normal to struggle with moods when you have persistent pain
  • People who have learnt to manage their moods find it makes a big difference to their pain – and their lives
  • Be kind and compassionate to yourself. Remember – it is “not your fault” that the pain refuses to go away
  • There are many way to lessen the stress or pressure you're under. Discover which ones work best for you and then use them often
  • Remember, you are not alone. Don't be afraid to ask friends or family for help

Footstep 7:


  • Lots of people with pain have difficulties sleeping, but recent research has shown that sleeping well with pain is possible
  • Making some changes to what you do during the day will help you sleep better
  • Regular physical activity will help improve your sleep
  • Your food and drink choices will have an impact too
  • Getting into a regular night-time routine is important
  • Making sure that your bedroom is ‘fit for sleep’ can make a big difference

Footstep 8:

Food, relationships and work

  • Eating well and having a normal-range weight will help you cope better with pain
  • Doing things with other people is likely to lift your mood and distract you from focusing on your pain
  • Staying at work or returning to work is especially important for people with pain as gives your life routine, structure and purpose

Footstep 9:

Relaxation and mindfulness

  • Mindfulness and relaxation can lessen pain levels, reduce stress and improve concentration
  • Learning relaxation skills can be easier than you expect
  • Mindfulness helps in many ways, such as improving memory or attention so you can focus and concentrate better

Footstep 10:

Managing setbacks

  • People with pain experience setbacks for many reasons – and sometimes for no obvious reason at all
  • Having a setback plan ready can help you get back on track sooner
  • Cutting back on activity – but still being gently active – is the key
  • Using your pacing skills is more important than ever during a setback
  • Remember to be kind to yourself and that "it will pass"