With the pace and demands of today’s world, stress and anxiety are a daily part of people’s lives. Over time, the presence of these factors can overwhelm the body, depress the immune system, and make people more prone to develop chronic pain, even from injuries that would heal in a healthy person. This dynamic is primarily caused by the body getting stuck in a state of hypervigilance, which triggers an inflammatory response in a person’s nervous and musculoskeletal system. Hypervigilance is a response to perceived dangers in one’s environment, a perception that is supposed to be short-term, but chronic stress and anxiety short circuit the body’s ability to release this tension and distress. Unfortunately, the longer a person is locked in this heightened state, the harder it is to get the body to recognize that no danger exists and allow the systems of rest and healing to activate. Thus, implementing stress-relieving techniques sooner rather than later is key to cutting off this damaging cycle. However, even long-term anxiety and chronic pain suffers can find great relief from incorporating activities that break this systemic link.
Here a few simple methods you can use to destress the body and mind, which allows the brain’s pain centers to slow down and eventually turn off:
- Mediate. There are many different types of meditation, and the sheer variety can be overwhelming to the new practitioner. However, an easy and manageable way to start taking time each day to pause and reset is to simply focus on breathing, counting each inhale and exhale up to a count of ten, and then starting again at one. This does not need to be for a set amount of time, either. Even just a few minutes can be enough to recalibrate the system if performed consistently.
- Daily movement. Moving your body every day is one of the easiest and most effective ways to find mental relief. Exercise causes the release of the feel-good chemical dopamine, which helps to regulate mood and stress responses. It also promotes better sleep, a vital component to healing the body and reducing anxiety.
- Journaling. Those with long-term stress, anxiety and chronic pain tend to constantly rollover problems in their minds, which serves to keep the brain in a hypersensitive state. Writing out problems and worries allows the mind to process the emotion and mental strain and takes the experience out of the body. Even 5 minutes each day can be enough to slow down the constant mental chatter and associated physical tension.
Give each of these techniques a try over the next week and see if you notice any changes in your mental health and physical sensations. If they work for you, schedule a call with me to learn how I can help you find long-lasting relief.