The Connection Between Stress and Chronic Pain
Many people find that as they grow up and get older, they begin to experience more pain. Aches, twinges, and other conditions become more and more common because the stress levels in their lives are often rising. Usually from high school onward, people begin to experience higher demands in their lives.
Education, employment, relationships, and personal obligations attempt to pull an individual in many different directions. In an attempt to satisfy each these, one might stretch themselves too thin and develop a vicious cycle of stress and pain. Due to the link between these two symptoms, it is possible to cure one by curing the other.
The Purpose and Cause of Stress
Stress is often labeled negatively. From the silent killer to the internal assassin, stress has been given a bad reputation thanks to the havoc it wreaks on the body when it gets out of control. The truth is that stress is actually healthy and necessary in one’s day to day life. It encourages focus, ambition, and helps people to try their best. Unfortunately, too much stress can be very harmful to the body.
Excessive stress occurs when people allow their many obligations to overwhelm them. Usually their time is not properly managed, and they do not know what to focus on. When this much stress is experienced day in and day out, it severely stresses the body, causing a number of chronic problems. Chronic pain is usually one of the earliest side effects of poor stress management. People can feel this pain as tension in their neck and shoulders, acute pain in their lower back, or as internal pain such as stomachaches and headaches.
Managing one’s stress is the key to alleviating chronic pain. Since the pain is the result of the body’s attempt to once again claim equilibrium, it can only be reduced or completely relieved by taking care of the stressors in life. This does not mean that the stressors are eradicated or ignored; it simply means that how one reacts to them changes, which could make a world of difference.
There are many different ways to practice effective stress management. Usually what works depends on the person, but there are lots of practices and activities that can be subjected to trial and error. To actively manage stress, many people try the following:
• Meditation: This mindfulness practice helps individuals take their focus off of what causes irritation, anger, and anxiety in their lives. When they identify the stressor, they can meditate on something calming that can take its place and relieve the stressful feelings that accommodate their thoughts.
• Prayer: This spiritual practice can be very effective for some people. By praying about their problems and life’s stresses, they can get what’s bothering them off of their chest while finding spiritual rest.
• Exercise: Certain exercises are great for stress management. Practices like Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, and other similar routines require both physical and mental focus to work. Through breathing techniques, slow but deliberate movements, and stretching, people find exercise to be a way to focus on something calming that also strengthens their body.
• Talking: Talking with friends, loved ones, and even counselors has been proven to be therapeutic for stress. Simply talking to someone about what is bothersome can offer new perspective on the problem and ways to help fix or manage it.
Reducing Stress Can Relieve Pain
For those who feel stressed often and are suffering from chronic pain, there may be a direct correlation between the two. It is important to visit a doctor or psychiatrist to help evaluate these symptoms and come up with a stress management plan to reduce or relieve the pain.