Stress and Chronic Pain
A Link between Stress and Chronic Pain?
Could stress be a factor in prolonging the chronic pain cycle?
Chronic pain can be a sign that the body’s natural ability to restore and maintain health is being drained or blocked. Physical stress obviously can lead to pain but what about mental stress?
Mental emotional stress is not something that is just “all in your head”. Mental stress can create immediate physical changes and long term chronic health issues over time.
Mental stress, like an internal fire in the body, can make your heart race, cause sweating, muscle tension, constricted breathing, uncomfortable postures, difficulty concentrating and more. Such physical changes can slowly weaken the body over time and transform into chronic health issues.
Consistency and relaxation are important factors to properly insure regularity in good body function. Blood flow, breathing, digestion, sleep – these are some simple examples of body function that relies on consistency and relaxation. High blood pressure, constricted anxious breathing, irregular meals and sleep times are irregularities that interrupt the body’s natural abilities to function and heal to the best of its ability.
The constant drip of daily stress causes chaos in body function and is draining to the body’s ability to repair and restore health after exhaustive activities or injuries and other health issues that may arise.
Stress management, as a self-care practice, is vitally important to counter the drain that stress puts on your health and peace of mind. Have you tried meditation?
Stress and Chronic Pain – Meditation can help…
- “Meditation could be a cheaper alternative to traditional pain medication, study suggests.1”
- “Meditation might be an effective treatment for reducing chronic neck pain, according to research reported in The Journal of Pain.2”
- “They hypothesized that an eight-week meditation program will decrease pain more effectively than a standardized exercise program and that pain relief will coincide with stress reduction.2”
Successful methods of stress management or meditation will focus on regulating and synchronizing 3 important fundamentals – mind, body and breath.
Regulating Body – Simply put, good health is about good circulation. Regulating the body means being aware of unnecessary tension in your body. It’s important to release blocking tension to maintain good flow of qi and blood. Regular practice is needed at first until it becomes a natural habit. When you reach this level you will immediately become aware of blocking tension and release it.
Regulating Mind – the mind is the most dangerous thing in the body. In the practices of tai chi and chi kung we say, where you’re mind goes, your qi will follow. Your internal energy and resources will drain out faster from an unsteady, overactive mind compared to a steady, calm mind. A mind that is fiery and bouncing around from one random thought to another is not focused or efficient. Learning to quiet and calm the mind through meditative practices will be beneficial.
You may find it difficult to quiet the mind at first but through practice it can be done. It’s difficult at first because you’ve only mastered the obvious yang-qualities of the mind and neglected the mysterious yin-qualities. You have mastered the yang-fire-type mind but for balance you need to master the yin-water-type mind.
Regulating Breath – stress tightens and overheats the body. It also constricts breathing. Consciously focusing on a deeper breath can restore calmness. As a challenge, try being aware of your breathing throughout your day. Try to breath 20%-30% more deeply. You may notice at the end of the day you have more energy and feel less stressed.
Once these regulatings are mastered the next level would be to unify all three. When the body is tense – settle your mind and deepen your breath to restore balance. When the mind is agitated – check your posture, relax your body and make your breathing deeper and more even. When your breathing is shallow and constricted – relax your body and focus your mind. The 3 influence each other and cannot be separated. Regulate and unify.
When you reach a higher level of awareness regulating the mind, body and breath you will simply be able to take a deep, cleansing breath to adjust your qi flow. These types of practices in early prevention can prevent blocks from locking into the body breaking free from an endless cycle of chronic pain.
“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”
Support your mental-emotional well-being and try this guided audio series – 7 Emotions – Guided Awareness Meditations / A Stress Management Program
- Leeds Beckett University. “Meditation could be a cheaper alternative to traditional pain medication, study suggests.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 June 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170612094633.htm>.
- American Pain Society. “Meditation can reduce chronic neck pain, study shows.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150225094105.htm>.