When we stress, our heart rate goes up, our blood pressure rises, our muscles tense up and contract, and our breathing becomes fast and erratic. To cause these physical reactions, our body releases hormones: Adrenaline, Norepinephrine, and Cortisol.
The reactions that these chemicals cause are amazing in times of fear and when you need to react to survive. For instance, in the event that you need to run away from a bear, the reactions that these stress hormones cause may save your life. However, it is not healthy for your body to deal with these chemicals all the time.
But, in today's world, it is not easy to prevent this from occuring because much of our fear and worry occurs when we sit down to pay bills, deal with a controversy, or try to finish a work project; it can be difficult to keep from constantly stressing.
Some research has shown that even the process of thinking about stressful things, or a stressful event, almost immediately increases tension in the back muscles. This often aggravates any underlying conditions causing your chronic pain.
Pain is regulated by our nervous system. Our brain alerts us of the pain we feel and it strives to maintain balance in the body. The brain’s job is to minimize pain signals when it receives them so that we can function in life, but stress disrupts the balance. Dr. Steven Stanos, medical director of the Center for Pain Management at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, stated, “The brain is always trying to inhibit pain signals. But if you're stressed, simply put, the brain's ability to filter these pain signals is affected in a bad way and pain can be increased.”
Finding a way to relieve some of your stress would be one of the best things you could do to begin relieving some of your chronic pain. Many experts agree that practicing breathing techniques, meditation, or yoga are viable ways to reduce stress levels. Some other suggestions include eating healthy, nutritious food, as well as making sure that you do not skip meals. Skipping meals can really cause stress levels to rise. Another important tactic is to allow yourself to engage in something that makes you happy. Finding satisfaction in something is an excellent method to reduce the stress that you feel. For instance, when some people create beautiful artwork, or work on a quilt, or even put a puzzle together, they find that they can actually stop thinking about stressful things and find enjoyment, allowing their mind to relax.
There are other options to reduce to stress. Find the techniques that work for you and give it a shot! If you need a little more help relieving some of your pain in order to actually feel like getting active to relieve stress, give topical pain relievers a try! Topical pain relieving lotions are a great way to give yourself some localized relief and relax those tense muscles!
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