Are you feeling the holiday stress yet?
Stress gets such a bad name…
“Stress caused Bill to drink too much”…
“Kate forgot to buy a present for her husband because of stress”…
“Stress made Charlie eat the entire package of Oreos”…
People love to blame stress for everything. It’s an easy scapegoat. Especially since it is defined as “ANY type of change that causes physical, emotional, or psychological strain.”
It is very subjective.
When one person says they are under some stress in life, another person might say that it is just another Monday. There is no universal way to measure stress.
But what if I were to tell you stress IS A GOOD THING?
By now, you are thinking I am crazy. Stress causes gray hair, stomach ulcers, increases the likelihood of a stroke, speeds up the aging process, etc. What we are also learning is that chronic stress can lead to chronic pain. (Abdallah, 2017)
According to internal medicine physician Richard Lang, MD, PhD from the Cleveland Clinic: “Stress doesn’t necessarily cause certain conditions, but it can make the symptoms of those conditions worse.” And it’s easy to fall into a vicious cycle – whereas your physical symptoms worsen – your stress increases – and so on and so on.
I beg to differ.
How you respond to stress is what can cause the negative effects we have already mentioned
To further this point, let’s look at your bones and muscles. We grow our muscles and strengthen our bones by putting them through stress. They need the stress of lifting that heavy weight off the rack. They need the impact of your foot into the ground while carrying weight to stimulate their healing.
You need to stress the bones and muscles to stimulate them to grow. You need to push them and make them feel uncomfortable at times to get the response to the stress you are looking for.
Your brain and way of thinking are the same as your bones and muscles. They need to be challenged in uncomfortable ways to grow. You need to feel the time crunch of a paper due at midnight that you haven’t started, and it is now 8:30 PM. It will grow from having to work double time or holding two jobs to make sure you can pay the bills at the end of the month.
Those stresses challenge us and help us grow. That is, as long as we are ready to learn those lessons.
Stop looking at stress in life as a bad thing. EMBRACE IT! It will challenge you. You will grow from it.
It has been very well documented that stress can make you hypersensitive to pain, decrease your sleeping patterns/habits, etc. It sounds like a vicious cycle for most. Get stressed, get pain, get more stressed because of the pain, add on some more stress of what you can’t do because of the pain, etc.
At some point, the cycle must be broken! Your mindset about the stressor needs to change so that you can grow!
What are some of our favorite ways to manage stress? I’m glad you asked:
- Exercise! I know I just mentioned that exercise is a stressor for the bones and muscles. It is true. But, it is also true that exercising helps with mental stress.
- Get outside. You live in AZ for Pete’s sake. We endure all summer long to get to this point. Get out and enjoy the 70 degrees and sunny weather
- Go pet some puppies at the local shelter. Heck, even bring one home!
- Create good daily habits
Creating good daily habits is a little vague, let me explain it a little more.
When you’re stressed, you tend to be less motivated and you may opt for unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as watching more TV or just laying around on the couch more.
You’ll be less reluctant to exercise, go for a walk, or even get dressed for the day.
How you set up your environment can play a big role in combating stress at home.
Get the TV out of your bedroom so you’re more likely to get a good night’s sleep and less likely to turn the news on first thing in the morning – which can be a source of stress in and of itself.
Make sure you make it a point to get dressed for the day and out of your pajamas to make yourself feel ready for the day and out of the lazy funk.
The take-home point is that life is hard enough. Set yourself up for success by creating an environment that encourages good daily habits.
Start there and see what happens. Regular, everyday movement helps you both physically and mentally.
I have yet to see any negative consequences from daily movement or exercise habits. But, If musculoskeletal pain is currently keeping you from daily movement – then talk to an expert who can help.
Request to talk to one of our specialists to see if we would be the right fit to help you get out of pain. CLICK HERE to request a Free Discovery visit with one of our specialists.
Stay well this holiday season!