Health Promotion Program is a Catalyst for Change for Chronic Pain Survivor

The Challenges

When Diana, 69, attended the first Healthier Living with Chronic Pain workshop at Park De La Cruz Community Center in San Diego, California, she was eager to learn about proven methods and techniques for managing chronic pain. Everyday tasks, such as washing dishes and vacuuming, had become difficult.

“I’ve always had lower back issues, but then I started to develop pain and neuropathy in my feet due to my diabetes,” said Diana. At one point in her health journey, her pain became so debilitating and overwhelming that she even considered euthanasia. “I had immense pain in my whole body. I wasn’t depressed, I just didn’t want to live a life of pain anymore,” Diana said.

One afternoon, her neighbor shared his recipe for an herbal tea which ultimately provided significant relief for her aches and pains. She began to wonder if other strategies could help her with the day-to-day management of chronic pain.

The Solutions & Results

After experiencing pain flare-ups in her fingers, Diana was called to enroll in the Healthier Living with Chronic Pain program offered by the County of San Diego’s Aging & Independence Services (AIS). Known locally as “Healthier Living,” the workshop uses the Self-Management Resource Center’s Chronic Disease Self-Management Program. The program is facilitated by trained peer leaders and staff who have a chronic health condition themselves or know someone whose life has been affected by one. Over six weeks, participants learn techniques to deal with symptoms of chronic pain, such as fatigue, sleeplessness, stress, and emotional problems such as depression, anger, fear, and frustration, with emphasis on cognitive behavioral therapy techniques for managing pain.

In one of the workshops, peer leaders led participants in a discussion about activities they value and a brainstorming exercise where participants identified solutions for how to continue these activities while living with chronic pain. For Diana, cooking has always been an activity she has valued greatly. “I love cooking with fresh vegetables, but I have difficulty with knives. When I spend too much time cutting vegetables, I pay the price later with pain,” Diana noted. As a result of the brainstorming activity, she was able to identify solutions to try that were realistic and achievable, including meal prepping to avoid having to cook every day, cooking soups using frozen chopped vegetables, and pacing herself while cooking.

In reflecting on her overall experience with the program, Diana noted that it influenced her to take ownership of managing her chronic pain which is a main principle of the program. “So much of what I learned was a catalyst for change and moving things forward,” said Diana. “I feel more confident in knowing that there are options and alternatives to try as the pain comes up, and I’m more open to trying new things to manage my pain.” The program also helped Diana draw the connection between pain and other lifestyle factors, like stress. Diana encourages others who are living with chronic pain to be proactive in their healthcare. “Have faith and be informed. When you have knowledge, you can be confident and stand in that knowledge. You know what works and doesn’t work for you,” Diana explained.

Discover More Information

To learn more about the Self-Management Resource Center and its program offerings, or to become a licensed organization for the program, visit