So we are stressed. What are the typical things recommended for all this damned stress?

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“Cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, is sometimes called the ‘stress hormone’ as it is activated in reaction to stress. Our study shows that a small hippocampal volume is associated with higher cortisol levels, which lead to increased vulnerability to pain and could increase the risk of developing pain chronicity,” explained étienne Vachon-Presseau.

As Dr. Pierre Rainville described, “Our research sheds more light on the neurobiological mechanisms of this important relationship between stress and pain. Whether the result of an accident, illness or surgery, pain is often associated with high levels of stress Our findings are useful in that they open up avenues for people who suffer from pain to find treatments that may decrease its impact and perhaps even prevent chronicity. To complement their medical treatment, pain sufferers can also work on their stress management and fear of pain by getting help from a psychologist and trying relaxation or meditation techniques.”  News Medical

  • Exercise: Yeah I said it. Motion is the lotion. From just going for a walk to exercising 30min on your exercise bike. Whatever you can do, exercise helps with stress.
  • Sleep: Getting a restful sleep. I know this is pretty obvious and with chronic pain not really always an easy thing to achieve. Because of the pain. Since I have FM insomnia has always been an issue, add pain to that, restorative sleep is not my thing.
  • Balance: Incorporate downtime into our days. Add in leisure activities we enjoy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
  • Relaxation: Meditation, yoga and relaxation breathing are all in this category. Get your zen on.
  • Pacing: Pay attention to our pacing and ensure we are not exceeding our limits. Ensure we have breaks when we need them. Make sure we do not have too much in the day.

This is the basic template of stress management I have been told many, many times. And have gone through in a pain 101 class at the pain clinic. These are things to help us cope with chronic pain on a daily basis. We may not agree with all of them, but in a way, all of them affect different things from stress hormones to mood, to neurotransmitters and other benefits. All of them put together, in fact, do help cope with pain and stress if you do them regularly. Sleep being one I cannot do well, but the others I have done.

For life events that cause addition outside stressors that then cause flare-ups. I tend to slack on my routine due to the pain levels, which happens during flare-ups. I think really the best answer I can think of for these high-stress times is.

  • Rest: Take your rest to deal with the flare-up of pain. And don’t feel guilty about it. It is time you need to deal with the increase in pain.
  • Distract: You can’t think about the stressful event all the time so you must distract yourself from it. Either verbally tell yourself not to think about it, stop, and turn your mind to something else. I do this often. Or distract your mind with an activity that uses up your brain like reading or a hobby you enjoy.
  • Sit down for a particular time in the day to write down what you are stressed about. Then plan what you can do about it. Do you have any control over this? Yes, then write down steps you need to take. No? Then make a plan to stop stressing about it. Give yourself half an hour of thinking about it a day and no more. Work of your plan 15mins a day, more if it is required by your plan. At no other time are you to think about this stressor.

See also

Fibromylagia and stress in women

How meditation can reshape our brains

Meditation apps

Check out my humour chronic pain book!

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