Washington Center for Pain Management

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  • Stress Management for Chronic Pain Relief

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    Stress often has a negative connotation, but it isn’t always a bad thing.  There are good and bad stressors that can impact our everyday lives, but how we choose to deal with those stressors affects the outcome of our wellbeing.  

    Fight or Flight
    Chronic stress has been found to be a contributing factor to chronic pain.  Prolonged stress, such as work deadlines, financial hardships, or unhappy family dynamics, can cause the body to continually be in a “fight or flight” state.  The fight or flight response is a reaction that our body’s sympathetic nervous system has to a stressful event.  Generally the body is able to relax after a stressful occurrence and the fight or flight response subsides.  However, with habitual stressors occurring, the body is unable to shut off this function, which takes a large physical toll on the body.  
    Increased Muscle Tension
    In stressful emotional states, the body’s hormones increase causing muscles to remain in a nearly perpetual state of tension.  Studies have shown that for chronic back pain sufferers, simply thinking or discussing stressful events can greatly increase tension in back muscles.  
    Stress Management/Relaxation Techniques
    Relaxation is key in reducing stress and creating a “Zen” state of mind.  These simple techniques can reduce the stress hormones in your body, resulting in relaxed muscles and a sense of good wellbeing.  
    Serene Imagery.  Imagine yourself in the most ideal, tranquil place, focusing on slow and deep breathes.  Try to include all five senses as you imagine yourself submerged in pure relaxation.  Do this mind exercise 5 to 10 minutes each day. 

    Exercise.  Aerobic exercise has many benefits: the release of feel-good hormones, increased blood flow aiding in injury recovery, and reducing muscle tension.  Activities such as swimming are great for chronic pain sufferers due to the lack of jarring joint and muscle impact often caused by jogging and other workout techniques.    
    Positive Self- Motivation.  We are our own best friend and worst enemy.  Changing a negative perception of how you think about yourself and your pain can greatly alter how you actually feel.  Create a positive mantra for yourself and repeat it every day. 
    Write it Down.  Sometimes there are underlying issues that are contributing to your stress.  By writing it down, we are able to adequately pinpoint our stressors and more easily reduce them.  Prioritizing your schedule and daily tasks with basic pen and paper creates better organization and can make life feel less hectic or overwhelming.  
    For more information on stress management and chronic pain relief, visit The Washington Center for Pain Management at www.WashingtonPain.com or call (425) 774-1538 to schedule an appointment today.
    "Stress Relaxation and Natural Pain Relief." WebMD. Ed. Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD. WebMD, 23 Jan. 0000. Web. 18 Dec. 2013.
    "What Is Stress? How To Deal With Stress." Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2013.



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