Stress Awareness Day: The Relationship Between Stress and Pain
The Link Between Stress and Pain
Stress affects everyone and it comes in all shapes and sizes and it affects everyone differently. Left unchecked, stress can contribute to a variety of health problems like heart disease, diabetes, insomnia, high blood pressure, and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, and even chronic pain.
Stress will always be a part of life, so what really matters is how you handle it. Learning to recognize your symptoms and respond to stress can give you a head start on learning how to manage stress in a healthier way.
As you experience stress, your adrenal glands make and release cortisol. Nicknamed the “stress hormone”, cortisol causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure and has also been linked to chronic pain.
According to a study conducted on chronic stress and chronic pain,
“a prolonged or exaggerated stress response may perpetuate cortisol dysfunction, widespread inflammation, and pain.”
Learning healthy coping mechanisms, confronting your stressors, and learning to reassess what’s stressing you to gain a new perspective on it “may minimize cortisol secretion and [help] prevent chronic, recurrent pain.”
Sheldon Cohen at Carnegie Mellon University led a research team that found that chronic stress is associated with loss of the body’s ability to regulate the inflammatory response. Cohen stated, "Inflammation is partly regulated by the hormone cortisol and when cortisol is not allowed to serve this function, inflammation can get out of control." Out of control inflammation is believed to also promote the development of many diseases.
Ways to Manage and Reduce Stress: Our Favorite Products & Practices
Learn healthy coping skills:
The key here is to make sure that you’re coping skills are healthy, rather than focused on avoiding the real problem or encouraging destructive behaviors.
Here are some healthy practices you can start incorporating into your day-to-day life today:
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy
- Going for a walk
- Listening to your favorite music
- Watching an episode of your favorite tv show or movie
- Talking with trusted friends
- Regular exercise
- Making time for hobbies
- Starting and ending your day by doing something you love
- Taking a break from your phone or computer
Other ways to reduce stress:
There are many natural products that have been proven to help with things like stress, stress resilience, and anxiety. For more information on each of these products, click on the links below.
What are your favorite ways to de-stress? Which products or coping skills would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments section!
“How Stress Influences Disease: Study Reveals Inflammation as the Culprit.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 2 Apr. 2012, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120402162546.htm.
“How Stress Affects Your Body and Behavior.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 28 Apr. 2016, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987.
“Stress Symptoms.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body#2.
Hannibal, Kara E., and Mark D. Bishop. Physical Therapy, American Physical Therapy Association, Dec. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4263906/.
“Cannabidiol Regulates the Expression of Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis-Related Genes in Response to Acute Restraint Stress.” Journal of Psychopharmacology, journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0269881118805495.
Bhattacharyya, et al. “17.3 EFFECT OF CANNABIDIOL ON SYMPTOMS, DISTRESS AND NEUROPHYSIOLOGICAL ABNORMALITIES IN CLINICAL HIGH-RISK FOR PSYCHOSIS PATIENTS: A PLACEBO-CONTROLLED STUDY.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 Apr. 2018, academic.oup.com/schizophreniabulletin/article/44/suppl_1/S28/4957132.