How Managing Stress Can Ease Aches and Pains

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Most of us are so used to living in a state of stress,

we often don't realize the negative effects it is

having on our body. In fact, small infrequent doses

of stress are not bad.  It can help you accomplish

tasks and avoid getting hurt.

 

Stress is the body's reaction to a real or perceived

harmful situation called "fight or flight".  If you

were a cave man, running from a bear, stress

hormones would allow you to run faster and

harder. When a stress hits, your body's critical

systems for survival rev up and less urgent needs

are set aside.

 

Immediate physical symptoms of stress can

include headache, muscle tension, rapid heart

rate, insomnia, dry mouth, clenched jaw, and

nervousness or shaking. While stressed, your

nervous system keeps the body on alert.

 

However, with chronic stress your body remains

in a prolonged state of muscle tension and

produces high levels of stress hormones.  This

type of stress can cause or worsen many health

problems including metal illness like depression

or anxiety, heart disease, high blood pressure,

digestive problems, and skin conditions like

acne or eczema.

 

You might think of stress being a problem only

for your mind or psychology. However, your

brain and body work together and cannot be

separated.

 

Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system

and signals the adrenal glands to produce

adrenaline and cortisol that slows digestion

(because this isn't really top priority if you are

running from a bear) but also increases

inflammation in your body.  The hormones

constrict blood vessels and reduce blood flow

to soft tissues including muscles, tendons,

ligaments, and nerves.

 

As you would imagine, this results in muscle

spasm, slowed healing, and frequently pain

symptoms. Please remember though that stress

and emotional factors that lead to pain result in

real physical symptoms and are not imagined

or made up.

 

Stress and pain are closely linked. They each

have an impact on the other creating a viscous

cycle. Pain is regulated by the nervous system

so the brain is a key player in how we perceive

pain.  To maintain balance in our body and

help us function, the brain works hard to try

to minimize pain signals.  When you are

stressed, your brain is unable to filter the

pain (or inhibit) signals so pain intensity

will increase.

 

Whether your pain or stress came first

doesn't really matter, both negatively affect

your quality of life.

 

A change as small as lack or disruption of

sleep caused by pain and/or stress limits your

body's ability to heal and recover. For many

people, learning how to avoid or cope with

stress can lead to significant pain relief.

Let's discuss some ideas to decrease stress,

mitigate pain, and improve your bodies

ability to heal.

 

Here are 3 steps to stress and pain reduction

that anyone can start today:

  • Rate

When you are experiencing a high level

of stress or pain, rate both on a scale

from 0-10.  Just realizing where you are

on the scale is the first step to managing

them.

  • Move

Just 30 minutes of physical exercise will

cause your body to release endorphins that

decrease production of adrenaline and cortisol,

as well as improve blood and oxygen flow

throughout your body.

  • Relax

Techniques such as yoga, meditation, or breath

awareness practices can calm your over excited

central nervous system. This triggers a relaxation

response in your muscles, as well as decreased

heart rate and improved blood flow and oxygen

circulation.

 

What is your "go to" for stress relief?

 

Look for more tips on our Facebook page this

week and share with us your ideas so we can

continue this conversation and help one another

happier and healthier lives.

 

If you are having trouble finding "relief" for

pain or stress call TODAY to hear about our

other solutions 901-316-5456.