Stress- What is it Doing to Us?
Stress can come at us from every angle. It wears on us physically and emotionally and can affect nearly every part of our lives. We know it’s bad for us, but eliminating it, or even reducing it can be difficult. Stress is our bodies natural way of coping with tough situations. It’s bound to happen, but we can take steps to reduce constant stress and manage how we react to stressful situations.If you have recently had an injury, it’s likely you could be suffering from stress. Even if your injury is not recent, reducing stress is critical in helping your body heal. Stress affects us both immediately and in the time to come following stressful seasons or events. The immediate implications of stress are felt in our bodies; our blood pressure rises, breathing becomes more rapid and our muscles become tense. Irritability and anxiety set in and your mind starts racing. It’s our bodies sympathetic nervous system preparing us for “fight or flight”.
Experiencing this chronically over time is proven to reap serious, long-term ramifications for us. Shortened life expectancy, impaired physically functioning, anxiety, depression, insomnia and many other chronic illnesses. To read more about the effects of stress on your body check out this article. Here are three things you can do today to help reduce your personal stress.
1. Practice Mindfulness
What is mindfulness? “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us” (https://www.mindful.org/what-is-mindfulness/). Holistic mindfulness, mindfulness with our bodies, our boundaries, and our surroundings, can do wonders for stress. It’s more than simply being aware. It’s being totally and completely in-tune with our mind, body, and what’s going on around us. If you are suffering from an injury, mindfulness can help you stay in-tune with what your body is telling you and how you are healing. Our bodies are an amazing communication tool. Our bodies tell us when to eat, when to sleep, when we are thirsty, when we need social interaction, and so much more. Mindfulness over time, can change how we react to stressful situations and help us to develop coping skills that keep us healthy.
Some ‘mindful’ questions to ask yourself:
- What do I need right now?
- Am I breathing deeply?
- What am I physically experiencing?
- What am I emotionally experiencing?
- Am I fully present where I am right now?
2. Get Moving
Exercise helps with stress. It’s mentally, emotionally, and physically beneficial. Yet it is one of the hardest ones to do, especially for those suffering from pain. When we are under continued stress, our muscles never get the opportunity to relax. Constant tight muscles cause physical pain in our bodies and make any existing physical pain and injuries worse. Ever get a headache or painfully tight neck and back after a stressful day? That is the effect of stressed-out tight muscles unable to relax after prolonged stress.
When you get moving, it can feel like that one thing we just don’t have time for, but actually doing it can be the antidote to the symptoms of stress. In general, it distracts our minds, calms our bodies, and gives us energy. Here are some activities to try:
- Take a walk: clear your mind and take a mental break. If your schedule is tight, try using part of your lunch break or taking a walk right before or after work. Listening to music or a podcast while walking can also be a great distraction from a racing mind.
- Yoga: stretching, moving, bending, and breathing deep. All great ways to relieve a stressed mind and body. Focus on clearing your mind and being aware of the amazing capabilities of your body. If you are experiencing pain, listen to your body and try a different stretch.
- Swimming: swimming is a full-body work-out that is excellent on your joints and easy on injuries. It is also excellent for clearing your mind and giving you energy. Swimming is particularly appealing in warmer months, but you can swim year-round at many indoor facilities and health clubs.
Want more ideas for exercises that are good for pain management? Read this blog.
3. Ask for Help
When in doubt, this is one of the best things you can do to practically reduce stress. If too much is on your plate, delegate some of your responsibilities or ask others to help you share the load. Process your stress with trusted friends and family members who can provide support, encouragement, and assistance in your time of need. Speak up and tell others what you need. This can be difficult because it means being vulnerable. It can make us feel weak and powerless, yet admitting when we need help can exude true strength and self-awareness. It might mean communicating to your family that you need 30 minutes of uninterrupted time by yourself daily. It might mean telling your boss you need a day off to rest. After practicing mindfulness to decide what you truly need, speak up and tell others or ask for help. For especially stressful seasons, it can also be helpful to talk to a professional who can help you process what you are experiencing. Having someone listen to us and help us problem-solve our stress can do a great deal to lower our stress.
How Can Kentucky Pain Associates Help?
We understand stressful situations can bring about pain, and pain can bring about stress. Reducing the pain you are experiencing can do a great deal to help with your stress and relax your body. We are here to help you manage your pain, especially after a recent accident. See the treatments we offer and contact us today!