Whilst there is no conclusive evidence that stress can trigger arthritis (as everyone handles stress differently); it is easy to see the connection between stress and pain management. Arthritis can be extremely painful and many people seek different forms of arthritis pain relief, however could relieving the stress you are feeling not be a better way forward?
When you are stressed this can lead to a build up of pressure which can cause increased pain, muscle tension, exhaustion, anxiety, indigestion, dizziness, insomnia and illness.
Arthritis and stress: the cycle
When your body is confronted with stress, you release chemicals into your bloodstream which can cause physical changes. Now when this stressful situation is dealt with positively, your body restores itself and repairs any damage caused by the stress. However, if you do not manage this stress, it can build up and begin negatively affecting your body.
And so the viscous cycle begins. Pain leads to stress and stress leads to more pain.
Can I manage my stress?
According to the University of Washington, Department of Orthopaedics, managing your stress can offer your body natural pain relief. The key is to do it in 3 stages:
1. Learn how to reduce stress
2. Learn how to accept what you cannot change
3. Learn how to overcome the harmful effects of stress.
To reduce your stress levels, aim to do the following:
– Identify the causes of stress in your life: keep a diary of what stresses you and their physical symptoms
– Share your thoughts and feelings: vent and talk to someone. This prevents the build up of emotions
– Do not let yourself get depressed: stay positive and put your energy into things which build your self-esteem and self-image
– Aim to simplify your life as much as possible: organise your activities and you will feel less stress
– Learn how to manage your time: don’t try to do too much in one day. Spread your activities and chores out, scheduling in time to rest
– Set yourself short and long term goals: these goals will help to give you perspective on what matters, so nothing gets on top of you
– Take advantage of arthritic support and education services: aquatic programmes such as those provided by the Arthritis Foundation can help you to learn how to manage your arthritis and improve your lifestyle
– Work to make yourself both mentally and physically fit: stay positive and don’t let yourself fall into a sedentary trap. Keep active and take up yoga and Tai Chi. These have been proven to alleviate stress and offer joint pain relief
– Learn to have a laugh and some fun: don’t take life too seriously. Recognise when things are beyond your control and laugh
– Seek out help when dealing with hard-to-solve problems
– Accept that you cannot change yourself and others
– Allow yourself to be imperfect
– Learn relaxation techniques: yoga and flexibility exercises can help to workout your joints, whilst helping you to calm down and relax
Stress does not have to rule your life. Neither does arthritis. Simply follow the steps listed above and you too can help ease your stress, and begin experiencing real arthritic pain relief.