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The Joy Box | Chronic Pain Management

This article explores how having a 'Joy Box' can support the well-being of a chronic pain patient during a flare and how to make one.  

Pink background with white words saying "Yet, when I added a touch of kindness to myself, I found I was coping a lot better. As a result, my version of 'the joy box' was born.

As a chronic pain patient, I've remained in bed for a number of days, weeks, and months, and I sadly know I will have more of those flares to come. Not only is my pain at its worst when those periods come, but my mood is also at its lowest. In an effort to get some solace from this suffering, I either curl up into a ball or idly watch the television. Are you familiar with this?

We are not alone. For example, The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (2019) explains that those with severe ME/CFS who experience constant pain can be bedbound for weeks or even longer.  A key to getting through these difficult times is being kind to ourselves. We are going through levels of pain that many people could never fathom. Yet, being caring to oneself often seems to be the last thing on our minds. Our lives go on, and nothing pauses for our flares to ease. 

Photo of the outside of my joy box what i use to help me cope with my chronic illness and chronic pain

I have often punished myself for not being able to complete daily activities. Yet, when I added a touch of kindness to myself, I found I was coping a lot better. As a result, my version of "The Joy Box" was born. The Joy Box is created to bring moments of joy during a flare. The box is aimed to be personalised to you, but I advise you to include items of comfort, creativity, distraction, and products that evoke the five senses. Start by looking at the possessions you have, such as pillows or cuddly toys, that give you comfort. Then look for low-energy activities that can serve as a diversion during this upset; this is the best way to improve mood.

Interventions based on our senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch, says Professor Charles Spence, author of Sensehacking, can lessen pain and promote healing. In the same way that holding hands with someone you love actually comforts you, listening to music might assist you in literally blocking out unfavourable feelings (Mulder, 2021).

According to The Health Sessions, when you use your senses, you're less likely to get mentally imprisoned and are more likely to feel connected to your body. You become more mindful of the present moment and less concerned with the past or the future. Utilising your senses can help you reduce stress, increase energy, improve memory and cognitive function, and minimise pain (Suttie, 2023) So, including items that indulge your senses is important to the success of your joy box.

The first photo of inside my joy box with includes a fairy colouring book, lavender spray and body cream. I use these items to help soothe myself during a flare up with my chronic illness.

My Joy Box - Items Included

Red Box – It’s a light box that I can easily reach beside my bed. 

Colouring Book  - A Low energy activity that brings me joy.                                                                                         Cuddly Toy - An item of comfort that makes me smile.

My Favourite Book - (Senses - Sight) I enjoy reading this book every time, and I've read it so many times that it doesn't demand too much focus. I also have a copy on Audible if I am unable to focus my eyes.

Lavender Moisturiser Cream - (Senses - Touch & Smell) Lavender is my favourite smell and gently moisturising the skin is soothing.

Lavender Mist - (Senses - Smell)

Fidget Circle - (Senses - Touch)

Written Notes - (Senses - Sight & Sound) I experience high levels of brain fog during this time, and I sometimes can not recall the most basic memories. I have written two notes referencing my favourite YouTube channels, TV series, and music that make me smile.

Second photo of inside my joy box including a cuddly toy and my favourite novel.

Respectfully Suggest You Not Include 

Photos -  they could evoke overwhelming emotions during an emotional time. 

Plans for the future  - this could cause negative emotions when you are in so much pain.

Alcohol or drugs  - Both can have a negative effect on the mind and body.

Referencing any media that provokes strong memories – such as music or movies that could easily bring up painful memories. 

This article has been an exploration of how the ‘Joy Box’ can help people with chronic pain. I hope the above information is helpful to you. I would dread to think that creating a ‘Joy Box’ would cause you an increase in symptoms. So, I would suggest creating your own box when you are not in a flare or with the support of another person.

Sending best wishes to you all,



Mulder (2021) 23 Ways You Can Engage Your Five Senses for Healing. Available at:

(Accessed: 20 June 2023)

Suttie (2023) How Feeling Socially Connected Can Help With Chronic Pain. Available at: (Accessed: 21 June 2023)

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (2019) Severely Affected Patients. Available at: (Accessed: 23 June 2023

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