At Ellenbrook Physiotherapy we increasingly see the impact stress has on people’s pain and general well-being and so came the inspiration for this blog post, 5 ways to reduce stress and improve pain!
1. Disconnect from Technology (Social Media and Email) and Reconnect With Yourself
Whilst technology generally makes our lives easier on a day to day basis, sometimes it can lead to unwanted stress and an inability to “switch off”. This means taking some time to yourself, whether it be 5 or 10 minutes.
Funnily enough technology can be helpful in this space! There are fantastic apps in which help you switch off and reconnect with yourself. These apps are generally called mindfulness apps. They help you become more aware of your body presentation, emotions and help you control your thoughts.
Some good apps that I would recommend would be Calm, insight timer or 10% happier.
Whether it be walking, running, swimming or any form of exercise, doing something is always better than doing nothing. Getting outdoors, seeing some sunlight and taking in some fresh air for 30 minutes per day is all it takes. This has immense effect on mental health and can help you disconnect from the busy stressful life that the modern-day lifestyle lends itself to. It will also increase your heart rate and thus increase your metabolism, which is useful for overall cardiovascular health and weight management/ weight loss.
3. Cool/Hot stimulus
One way in which you can decrease your bodies response to pain is by increasing its tolerance to cool/ hot stimulus. This is a great way to decrease the sensitivity of the bodies systems which exaggerate pain i.e. acute non traumatic lower back pain (high pain but little tissue damage, therefore high sensitivity). One way in which I implement this into my daily routine is that I have a warm shower for 2-3 minutes and then finish for 2-3 minutes on complete cold (yes, even in winter!). Not only does this decrease your bodies sensitivity to pain but it also makes you more alert and productive throughout the day!
4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a fantastic way to reduce stress and improve pain. Progressive muscle relaxation works by contracting and relaxing different body parts at different times in a systematic approach in order to illicit a muscle relaxation response.
Here is a direct link to a greater in depth explanation of PMR and how to perform it: https://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/N_R/Progressive-muscle-relaxation
5. Improve Your Lifestyle
- Diet plays a major role in how we feel on a day to day basis and thus if we eat well, we feel good. Foods that are processed or high in saturated fats take longer to digest, thus overloading the digestive tract. Therefore, it is recommended all food sources come from natural ingredients. A well balance diet high in protein e.g fish, chicken, legumes (if you are vegetarian there is some good quality pea protein powders you can purchase to make up your protein intake), moderate in good fat e.g. avocado, cashews, almonds, macadamias, coconut oil and olive oil and low amounts of complex carbohydrates e.g sweet potato, rice, wholegrains.
- Sleeping well for at least 8 hours of the night is key to relieving stress and influencing energy levels throughout the following day. During REM sleep and our deep sleep stages is when we experience emotional resetting. This makes us feel refreshed the following day! Ways to increase the amount of REM sleep are: regular sleep-wake cycles, no blue light or TV 1 hour prior to bed, no caffeine past midday and supplementing with magnesium prior to bed may help with restful sleep.
- As always, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption (especially prior to bed) as this will influence and inhibit our REM stages of sleep.
Give these a try and see if they help reduce your stress and pain!