Meaningful activity and why it’s important in helping people in pain


BY Helen Preston, inspired by a January sunrise in the Fen. 26 January 2021.

We treat people in pain 

My name is Helen Preston and I am a Chartered Physiotherapist who helps people navigate themselves out of pain and get them back doing what they love.  I have also found a new child like wonder seeking out Fenland sunrise skies.

Finding meaningful activity

This morning, I took the opportunity before the challenges of working from home during a pandemic to take something in that would give me joy.  I know I need to lead the way in prioritising self care: I am conscious its important to walk the talk and fill my cup too.  Yesterday, I did the same as I knew there was fresh snow and I wanted to be able to follow the hares, rabbit and deer in imprinting the snow before a human footprint.  I had expected it to be different this morning and perhaps there would be no sunrise……but oh my……..the sky was on fire!

Along my journey as a Physiotherapist specialising in the treatment of people with persistent pain, I have come across the notion of going on a “pleasure hunt” in helping to input our system messages of joy and a sense of safety.  This can help reduce our pain output from our being, from our person.  This can be for a range of reasons……the good pharmacy of the brain opens its tap to flood the system with happy hormones when we allow ourselves to seek out joy. I try and promote this idea to patients regularly. It’s all part of the story out of pain…………..the purpose of pain is protection and the safer the system feels then the pain output will reduce. It’s a whole person job.  The sum of the parts is greater than the whole (Aristotle).

Ask yourself…..

How can you go on a pleasure hunt today? Move to improve….but how can you make your movement more meaningful today? Kick start those pleasure hormones to buffer the pain response……what is there to lose?

Now, I am hearing from lots of my patients at present that they are finding life really tough in the lockdown here in the UK.  Long, dark, cold nights of Winter with little certainty of what the future holds.  Many are isolating and yet to receive the vaccine; and even when they are vaccinated its unclear what this means in terms of return to normal life at this moment in time. It’s like a monotonous treadmill for many. Yet, I continue to be inspired by many of my patients who are finding new ways of going on a pleasure hunt. (Have I ever told you how ace my patients are 🤩).  I’ve been sent pictures of new insects found in the garden.  New hobbies discovered with the help of you tube. Scenes from nature walks. Some have reinvented movement/exercise programmes at home to incorporate dancing in the safety of their own home.  My Mum has even been walking 5K up and down the corridor at home (sounds dull but she has enjoyed listening to the radio and keeping pace with the music) this last week due to the icy conditions and posting her efforts to the family to give them a smile! The limits are endless.  Creativity is also good for the soul………so go for it, get creative. Take yourself on a pleasure hunt today……..and find how you can make your movement meaningful……..and see how it helps your pain.

How can I get in touch?

Get in touch if you would like to know more about a personalised physiotherapy programme to help you navigate yourself out of pain.  01733-565911 or email Book direct through our booking page

For more information on the purpose of pain being protection, and how you can identify the things that increase and decrease the threat, I can recommend this book from the NOI group here

Be brave. Seek out joy. Stay curious.

Because you are worth it…….

Helen x