Chronic negative stress does not do a body good. We all know this. Because we have pain and illness and so stress from That plus the life consequences of That causes a boatload of negative stress. We all know our mental and emotional wellbeing is as important as our physical wellbeing, but I don’t know if we realize how destructive unmanaged stress is on is prior to illness and certainly after.

Chronic stress and the body

Some of the symptoms of stress

Physically

  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach pain
  • Insomnia

Mood symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Lack of focus
  • Lack of motivation
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed

And those can sound Pretty familiar as symptoms we already experience. And that is because stress doesn’t help our existing illnesses at all.

It can be quite difficult to manage though when we have the physical, mental, and emotional stresses of illness and pain in our lives, sometimes for decades, and we get used to a certain level of constant stress all the time. Like it is normal.

Conversely, if you feel stressed, then your thoughts will create a chemical environment consisting of adrenaline, cortisol, histamines, cytokines and other hormones that create a sense of insecurity and dread. You will be motivated to control the situation to alleviate these feelings of anxiety. Since you cannot escape or solve unpleasant thoughts–rational or irrational, then your body will be exposed to higher levels of these chemicals than needed. It is like driving your car 70 mph down the freeway in second or third gear – it will break down much sooner than if you were in 5th gear and cruising Psychology Today

That article quoted goes on to say prolonged chronic stress can lead to a lot of illness factors.

There are different terms to describe the physical consequences of sustained levels of stress chemicals in your body, such as Mind Body Syndrome (MBS), Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS), Central Sensitization Syndrome (CSS), and Stress Illness Disorder. The term I have chosen is “Neurophysiologic Disorder” (NPD) …

There are over 33 possible symptoms, which are manifestations of an untreated Neurophysiologic Disorder (NPD).  Modern medicine is focused on treating symptoms instead of addressing the root cause of a fired-up nervous system. Many of these conditions will begin in childhood, such as migraine headaches, insomnia, anxiety, eating disorders, stomach pain, etc.

Psychology Today

It seems like stress is a constant factor in our existence that we cannot banish. It is embedded within the existence of chronic illness and pain. And as a consequence of chronic pain and illness on our lives as well. And those consequences in our lives we have to live with; dealing with doctors, employers, insurance companies, income instability, or income loss and disability. All stressful compounding on stressful.

But it is this that leads to other factors… like negative thoughts and negative emotions. And this can spiral into other comorbid issues. And just the chronic stress can cause our health to decline.

So in addition to our health and mental and emotional well-being, we have to manage our stress levels. I have some Good News… sort of… in a way, what we do to manage our health and emotional well-being actually helps with stress! So good on us! I just think we really have to remember that well-being is such an important factor and these rather simple things, that we can choose which suit our lifestyles, can make a lot of difference to our well-being. So awesome!

How to stop thinking myself into a stress ball

Things that can help with long-term negative stress

  1. Let’s get physical: Yep, exercise. It does help. Every little bit helps. Which for us may not be much at all. But even a few minutes can be a stress buster.
  2. Relaxation strategies: whatever floats your relaxation groove. Meditation. Yoga. Relaxation breathing. Massage therapy. And others.
  3. The body relaxation exercise: lay down. Get comfy. Tense your toes and release. And then following every muscle, tighten, hold and release until your whole body is all loose and relaxed.
  4. Keeping your awesome sense of humour. Check!
  5. Socialize with friends and family: socializing is good for wellbeing in many varied ways. And reducing isolation is quite important for us.
  6. Specifically set aside time for hobbies: Yes, set some time for You to do what You are passionate about because You love to do it. Listen to music. Read. Write. Draw. Knit. I could name 1000 ways.
  7. Do a gratitude journal recording 3 things you are thankful for every day. Or a regular journal that can get out thoughts and ideas on your day… can be reflective and cathartic to get it down.
  8.  Try art therapy which can reduce stress behaviour and symptoms

I like to do all of these but mix them all up… keep my brain guesses as it were. Although, exercise has been a major struggle with the vertigo so I haven’t been at All consistent with it and it has been really of and on… maybe a couple times a month here and there? It is what it is with that. The rest of them I am game for when I am capable of doing things. And some are easier to do when I am less capable of doing things (relaxation breathing, the body relaxation exercise, my sense of humour which is infinite, my gratitude journal which is a night time thing for me). The rest are for more functional morning things. Art therapy and hobbies are my favourite things these days to fill the void of work.

Quick tips for stress coping short-term

  1. Get your music groove on
  2. Chat it out with a friend
  3. Keep an eye on diet “Try to avoid sugary snacks and plan ahead. Fruits and vegetables are always good, and fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the symptoms of stress. A tuna sandwich really is brain food.” Healthline
  4. Laughter IS good medicine. It is weird that one thing recommended I found was funny cat videos… literally help boost mood. But anyway, any humour videos or comedians on Netflix or joking around with friends… all good, man
  5. Try some green tea. Or black tea, but limiting caffeine, one might want to go for the green and green has extra perks to it.
  6. Positive self-talk. “I can do this. And I damn well will.’ or ‘This too shall pass, like a kidney stone, but it will pass.’ or ‘Bet your butterscotch, I’ll do it. And damn well too’. or ‘I am worthy and awesome and rock.’
  7. Consciously relax tense muscles several times a day. This can be done with relaxation breathing. On the out breath… relax muscle tension.
  8. Aromatherapy. In particular, lavender has been shown to reduce stress.
  9. Hug it out man: A good hug can reduce stress and blood pressure in adults
  10. Cuddle power: hang with your pet

These are all awesome and you might recognize this list as familiar Mood Boosters because a lot of them Are. And maybe because that wee boost in mood also drops our stress. I love laughter as one. And grooving a bit to some good tunes was a great one when I didn’t have vertigo… now I just listen and do Not groove. Grooving causes spinning and not intentional spinning.

Positive self-talk is sort of what I do to confront my negative douche talk. You know when your douche’s negative brain says something dickish and you’re like ‘Hey! Don’t be such a dick, man! I so am awesome!’ I just say the opposite of the dickish brain. Because that brain is autopilot negative thoughts. And I want to retrain my brain to have some actual self-worth so I replace those autopilot thoughts with better more real thoughts.

Aromatherapy… I am cautious about due to migraines. But I LOVE peppermint. I wear a necklace with it in it. I find it soothing. It helps with nausea. I love that. I wear it when I leave the house so I do not smell so many other offensive odours. All good.

Pet power… we all know pet cuddle power. Snuggle your pet. Snuggle your friend’s pet. Pet someone’s pet.

I recommend all these for a good de-stress for short-term needs. Toss them in with all the other things you do. Mix it up!

Other important facets

  1. Sleep management is vital
  2. Reducing caffeine does help
  3. Avoid excessive alcohol and illegal drugs
  4. A therapist can help with stress management strategies if you do not have any or none of helped you. Like maybe give biofeedback a go. Or self-hypnosis.

It should be noted that Postive stress, on the other hand, is rather good and necessary

Stress can be either positive (eustress) or negative (distress). Importantly, the body itself cannot physically discern between distress or eustress; the distinction is dependent on the experience of the individual experiencing the stress. Distress, or negative stress, has negative implications, and is usually perceived to be potentially overwhelming and out of a person’s control. Catastrophes, illnesses, and accidents tend to be the focus of negative stress. Eustress, or positive stress, on the other hand, is the positive emotional or cognitive response to stress that is healthy; it gives a feeling of fulfillment or happiness. Eustress has a positive correlation with life satisfaction and hope because it fosters challenge and motivation toward a goal. Any event can cause either distress or eustress, depending on how the individual interprets the information. For example, traumatic social events may cause great distress, but also eustress in the form of resilience, coping, and fostering a sense of community. Boundless Psychology (read for more indepth info)

It is an important distinction. Because positive stress is what motivates us to attain goals. And it feels damn good. Not really, really crappy. We need it to function but we always lump STRESS altogether. But positive stress is a damn good thing.

The main thing about positive stress is I wonder if a long period of time in fight or flight, stuck, with a boatload of negative stress and heightened awareness if… we do not feel much positive stress. Rather we might become overwhelmed at smaller amounts of stimulus and activity. So getting through things seems like an immense ordeal and More seems exhausting. So I wonder if the cost of chronic stress and illness is the loss of that positive stress and good feeling we get when we attain goals and of course, what I previously mentioned in another recent post our motivation. But perhaps with effort, rest, recovery, pacing we can gain some of it back. Hobbies, for example, gave me back some of that sense of motivation and productivity and good feeling once I complete a task well done. But then I do pace and rest in order to achieve such goals.

Study for extra reading

STRESS AND HEALTH: Psychological, Behavioral, and Biological Determinants

Acute stress responses in young, healthy individuals may be adaptive and typically do not impose a health burden. Indeed, individuals who are optimistic and have good coping responses may benefit from such experiences and do well dealing with chronic stressors (). In contrast, if stressors are too strong and too persistent in individuals who are biologically vulnerable because of age, genetic, or constitutional factors, stressors may lead to disease. This is particularly the case if the person has few psychosocial resources and poor coping skills. In this chapter, we have documented associations between stressors and disease and have described how endocrine-immune interactions appear to mediate the relationship. We have also described how psychosocial stressors influence mental health and how psychosocial treatments may ameliorate both mental and physical disorders. There is much we do not yet know about the relationship between stress and health, but scientific findings being made in the areas of cognitive-emotional psychology, molecular biology, neuroscience, clinical psychology, and medicine will undoubtedly lead to improved health outcomes.

What seems interesting is the cost of chronic stress on our health depending on various factors. However, we already are chronically ill. We have to manage the stress We Have. I do wonder if it is a factor in our comorbid illnesses and they certainly seem to compound. If so, well, already have Those too. And maybe someone ought to have taught me a whole lot about pain management a long effing time ago but such is life. We learn as we go and figure it out ourselves.

See more posts

Fibromyalgia and stress in women

Chronic pain and mental health

Fibromyalgia: High pain, coping and mental illness

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