Pain and stress are two different experiences but they are linked. Stress is described as the output of high anxiety, over-work, pressures building within you and a feeling of being overwhelmed. These outgoing feelings can manifest as a raised heart rate, irritability, loss of sleep and many more reported negative symptoms. Pain on the other hand manifests as a feeling we feel in response to tissue damage or perceived threat to the body. The perception of pain and stress is a highly complex process involving many different brain areas. We also know that the effects of stress can have a knock on effect on pain and vice versa. So reducing stress can help reduce pain. Here are our top 4 tips to help manage your stress:
1) Identify When You Are Stressed
Recognise the warning signs, acknowledge them and then do something about it. This might be making a list of the common feelings or behaviours you adopt when you are stressed so you know what to look out for.
2) Make a List of Activities That Will Reduce Your Stress
Make a list of things you find relaxing. It might include shorter and longer activities so you can choose depending on how much time you have spare. Get ideas from friends and family who may also be able to suggest activities.
3) Make an Assessment of your Lifestyle
The drive to succeed is inherent in human beings. This can leave us too busy for down time and relaxation. For some, at certain times in our lives, health and relaxation are not priorities over work and family commitments. Make a realistic plan of your week and formally fit in time to relax and de-stress.
4) Use Techniques
There are a whole host of podcasts and websites out there offering tips on relaxation and stress management, often for free. Some excellent podcasts can be downloaded here. You might also want to research techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing and contract-relax relaxation as a starting point, or see if your local community centre offers a gentle yoga class.