Stress is defined as “The non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” Our bodies were not designed to handle chronic stress.
You know this intrinsically. Stress is the reason your favorite American President seems to age 20 years in their 8 year term. The president with dark hair will leave looking grayed and exhausted.
Chronic pain drives the stress response of the body. Chronic pain makes you feel constantly exhausted. Higher levels of chronic stress are correlated with chronic pain.
Chronic stress alters cortisol levels in the body. Having chronic pain can cause chronically high levels of cortisol. Because cortisol is also important in sleep, chronic pain will disrupt your sleep. Sleep is very important for your rehabilitation and recovery.
Your goal in therapy is daily stress reduction with any one or more of these following keys to addressing stress:
Keys to addressing Stress
★ Physical Exercise. Ensure activity is pain free during and after. Example 5 min walking followed by breathing. Make breathing a focus with activity
★ Mindfulness meditation apps for stress reduction (Calm app, Breath app, Breethe meditation app)
★ Breathing retraining for relaxation
★Adopt daily coping strategies: meditation, gentle yoga, acupuncture, breathing, mindful meditation
(Note: all of the above reduce nervous system drive or noise. For example diaphragmatic breathing decreases nervous system “noise”, thereby helping relax .Use these techniques for 15 minutes before bed to aid sleep. Diaphragmatic breathing also corrects the oxygen balance for muscle relaxation. Meditation apps often focus on breathing and relaxation. Yoga needs to be gentle, pain free during and after, limit participation as needed)