Part 2: The Stress-Pain Relationship

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Part 2: The Stress-Pain Relationship                                  

By Megan Doyle, MS, OTR/L, FPS, Cert-APHPT

Occupational Therapist, Fellow of Pain Science,

 and Certified Applied Prevention Health Promotion Therapist

Managing Stress: Thoughts and Actions

       In Part 1 of this blog post, we detailed the background behind what stress is (negative and positive), and how prolonged stress can lead to a multitude of issues, including pain onset and in some cases can contribute to chronic pain. Stress is a normal part of daily life, but we all need healthy ways to manage it. 

     The following are some evidence-based (1, 2) strategies you can use to begin to better tackle your stress:

  • Focus on what is within your control in any given situation (choose how to cope)
  • Find routine connection with others (positive social support) and ask for help
  • Search for a deeper meaning in difficulty situations (foster resiliency) 
  • Get involved in routine and pleasurable activities (e.g., volunteering)
  • Identify steps you can take that can improve a stressful situation (regain control)
  • Find routine ways to relax (e.g., yoga, meditation, reading a good book)
  • Engage in routine physical activity/exercise                                                                                                                   (check out our blog post on movement here)
  • Acknowledge and address the underlying causes of stress in your life                                                  (e.g. work stress)
  • Make time for hobbies or leisure activities                                                                                                         (bonus points if participating with others!)
  • Show yourself kindness (practice self-compassion)
  • Foster a habit of mindfulness                                                                                                                                     (be present in your daily life, letting go of past and future)
  • Use deep breathing in the moment to reduce stress levels
  • Keep a gratitude journal or write about your stressful events                                                             (helping you process them)
  • Engage in a spiritual or religious practice

       Thanks for reading! Navigating daily stress can be challenging, but we hope you can now go forth and try out some of these strategies yourself. If you feel you need a more personalized approach and recommendations, reach out to any of our Navigate Pain rehab professionals. We can provide you with a customized plan and follow up support to get you on the right path to effective stress management or put you in contact with the right resources for you. 

Part 2 References:

  1. Shafir, H. Eustress vs Distress: Positive & Negative Types of Stress. Updated on 7 July 2021. Retrieved on 7/18/21 from: https://www.choosingtherapy.com/eustress-vs-distress/
  2. American College of Lifestyle Medicine. Lifestyle Stress Reduction. Retrieved on 7/18/21 from: https://www.lifestylemedicine.org/common/Uploaded%20files/PDFs/Practice%20Resources/Patient%20Education/ACLM-Handouts-Nurse-Week.pdf

                                         

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