Did you know that when you are stressed, it can actually intensify your pain, and vise versa? When you’re in pain, be it from an injury or a musculoskeletal condition, it increases your stress levels, and when you’re stressed, it can negatively affect your physical wellness. In fact, studies show that stress and pain are intrinsically linked in a vicious cycle that can actually reduce your quality of life.
Mental and emotional stress can cause:
- Ache, pain, tension, and tightness in the muscles and joints
- Neck and back pain
- Low energy and mood
- Digestive Issues
- A lowered immune system
- And other health and wellness issues
Now, more than ever, people are experiencing a spike in stress levels as a result of the uncertain times we’re currently living in with the global outbreak of coronavirus or COVID-19. Not to mention the fact that statewide stay-at-home orders are limiting the care you can receive through routine chiropractic treatments, natural medicine, massage therapy, acupuncture, and other practices. That’s why self-care is especially important right now, but what, exactly, is self- care? Let’s explore.
Be sure to check out Dr. Arne’s recent blog post, COVID-19: Steps to Protect Your Health & Wellness Naturally. In his article, he shares insightful information about coronavirus, and how to effectively strengthen and support your immune system naturally through herbs, supplements, and self-care practices.
Self-care is a proactive approach to mindfully and intentionally taking care of yourself to improve your quality of life. The best part about self-care is that you can tailor your practices specific to your needs, your lifestyle, your schedule, your goals, your health conditions, your injuries, and the types of pain you experience. It’s a matter of making healthier choices that can benefit your overall health and well-being so that you can feel better, move better, and keep doing the things you love to the best of your ability.
Let’s take a look at some handy self-care tips you can practice as often as you like to help relieve pain and support your optimal wellness. Check it out!
There are a number of ways to practice self-care to relieve pain, tension, and tightness. Along with maintaining your routine chiropractic adjustments, massages, acupuncture treatments, and supporting your holistic health through natural medicine practices, you can practice daily and weekly techniques to help relieve ache, soreness, and stiffness.
Tips for Relieving Aches and Pains
Practice these techniques frequently to alleviate pain, stress, and tension in your muscles and joints:
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, even if it’s a low impact exercise like walking or cycling, to naturally relieve pain and stress.
- Stretch throughout the day to reduce muscle tension and keep your muscles flexible and limber.
- Use the RICE Method to alleviate acute pain and injuries such as sprains/strains.
- Massage sore muscles and joints to soothe aches and ease tension.
- Practice good posture when sitting, standing, walking, running, or exercising to maintain a healthy alignment.
- Limit screen time to protect your eye and vision health and reduce headaches.
- Get outside and get some fresh air to help reduce stress and improve your respiratory health.
- Protect your eyes to keep your vision clear and your eyes healthy.
Read Dr. Herzog’s recent article, How to Protect Your Eyes, where she explores handy tips for protecting your eyes and vision, which is more important than ever with all the time we’re spending on the internet these days.
A good diet is one of the best ways to stay healthy, happy, and active. Everything we eat and drink affects the function of the various systems in our body, whether we realize it or not. Studies show that poor quality foods and unhealthy eating behaviors, often associated with stress, can actually contribute to your pain. But healthy eating behaviors and smart diet choices can actually help reduce stress, boost your mood, and help you feel better.
Healthy Food Choices for Stress Management
When you’re feeling stressed, reach for foods that can strengthen your immune system, stabilize your mood, and reduce blood pressure. These foods include the following:
- Foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, help lower cortisol levels, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and enhance the immune system.
- Foods containing complex carbohydrates, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can stimulate serotonin production to ease stress and lower blood pressure.
- Foods rich in magnesium, such as salmon and leafy greens, can help prevent and reduce headaches, fatigue, and stress, while also improving sleep and mood.
- Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, tuna, nuts, and seeds, can prevent spikes in stress levels, balance out blood pressure, and reduce stress.
Inflammatory Foods to Avoid
Studies show that many foods can actually contribute to inflammation in the joints and soft tissues. As a result, these foods can actually heighten your pain levels. Try to limit or completely avoid these inflammatory foods:
- Foods high in refined carbohydrates, such as pastries, white bread, rice, sweets, and even sugary breakfast cereals.
- Fried foods, such as french fries, donuts, fried chicken, and a whole range of appetizers you’ll find on any menu.
- Sugary beverages, including soda, sports drinks, alcohol, and even those flavored with artificial sweeteners.
- Red meats and processed meats, including steaks, burgers, hot dogs, sausage, and even some lunch meats like bologna.
Getting enough sleep is one thing, but getting deep, restful sleep is one of the best things you can do for your body and your mind. It’s during sleep that our bodies can heal, detoxify, and recover from pain, injuries, and illnesses.
Tips for Sleeping Better
Here are a few tips to help you manage sleep disturbances caused by stress so you can find better, deeper, more restful sleep:
- Before getting into bed, take some time to loosen and stretch the muscles in your neck, back, and body.
- Practice deep breathing for 5-10 minutes to help clear your mind.
- Avoid using electronic devices 30 minutes before bed.
- Set your room temperature to 67-68 degrees to keep you cool and comfortable.
- Use pillows and bolsters to support your posture and lower back; place a pillow under (when laying on your back) or between (when laying on your side) your knees to uphold your spine’s natural curvature and alignment, while reducing pressure on your lower back and hips.
- Use a good pillow that effectively supports your neck.
- Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach or with your arms above your head, which can cause pain and discomfort in your neck and shoulders.
If you have questions about your own self-care practices, or if you would like to learn more ways you can improve your whole-body wellness at home, please do not hesitate to contact us. While we may not be able to treat our patients in the office during the stay at home orders currently in place (or potential future orders), we are always here for you. Call our office or email us at Arnechiro@aol.com to set up a telemedicine appointment with your chiropractor in Littleton. We are here to help you and your loved ones stay healthy and safe now and always.