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Does stress affect your pain?

A common question among those of us that suffer from pain. If you are dealing with chronic pain, you are already using up all your energy mentally and physically to manage the pain and keep it at a level where you can continue with your daily life.

Therefore we must do everything possible to ensure we are not putting extra toxins into our body and mind. There is no evidence that stress can cause pain. However, dealing with severe pain can cause stress. If you add extra external pressure on top of this, it can increase your pain.

According to an article published by the Institute for Chronic Pain (reporting on a manuscript in the Journal of Pain), stress can activate the immune system and cause increased inflammation. Inflammation can aggravate many causes of chronic pain.

Stress, however, is part of life; every emotion that we feel has a positive intention. Some people thrive under pressure which causes stress and motivates them to complete the task before the deadline.

However, like every other emotion in our body, we need to be aware not to get consumed by stress. If you let stress consume you, that's when you see the level of pain you feel hit an all-time high, and when the physical symptoms increases, it affects your mental health, and you end up in a rabbit hole that you cannot get out off.

“Stress doesn’t necessarily cause certain conditions, but it can make the symptoms of those conditions worse,” says internal medicine physician Richard Lang, MD, MPH. “When physical symptoms worsen, they may, in turn, increase a person’s level of stress, which results in a vicious cycle.”

Understanding Stress

When we feel stressed, our body goes into a natural, free, fight-flight response. It's how our body reacts to anything that the brain says is a threat, so we run away, fight it, or do nothing.

To control your stress level, you need to understand it. Where is it coming from? Where are you feeling these emotions in your body? Sit with this emotion, drop into it and feel it to let it go.

Tips to deal with your stress

There are many ways to deal with stress; you need to find something right for you.

Below are some ideas for you:

Mindfulness: This is great for managing stress, calming your mind than coming back to the situation with a different perspective. Some mindfulness techniques can be yoga, breathing exercises, meditation.

Journaling: If you are a writer, this is an excellent tool to have in your pocket. It always helps to put your thoughts onto paper. When you write, just write! Dont think! When you read it back, you will be amazed at the beliefs that you have been holding onto. Once it's on paper, just let it all go.

Get enough sleep: Having a good night's sleep is essential to anyone, especially if you are already struggling with pain. In addition, lack of sleep can worsen a stressful situation as you do not have the mental energy to deal with the situation.

To get good sleep, create a nighttime routine for yourself. Write down everything you need to do before bedtime, and ensure you follow it for at least 30 days, so it becomes a habit.

Exercise regularly: this doesn't have to be anything strenuous, do what your body can handle, even if it is a stroll around your block or backyard, as long as you are moving! Movement is essential for your mental and physical health.

Cut Down sugar & coffee: Having too many stimulants can increase your stress levels.

Morning routine: This is very important for your mental health. When I wake up, the first thing I do is meditate, say my prayers, then go for a walk, come and have my breakfast smoothie. Only then do I go into my office to start my day.

Design your morning routine step by step. Like your nighttime routine, ensure you do this for 30 days so it becomes a habit.

Prioritise and manage your time: Ensure you set clear boundaries and don’t pack your calendar to overwhelm you. Your health is your priority, and if you don’t have sufficient space and time, it can often lead to feelings of stress.

Self-Care: A day at least once a month to do what you want to do. Go out to a cafe, or get a massage, whatever it may be. It is your day without any stress or external pressures.

Surround yourself with supportive people: This one is the most important. You don’t have to do this alone. Make sure you have a support network to turn to when you need it. Spend time connecting with friends and family who understand.

Every single paint above is essential to decrease stress and manage your pain. Start with the point that resonates with you first, one thing that you can implement now. It's always one step at a time.

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