Stress Management

Stress is a natural reaction to change or challenges and can actually be an effective motivator. However, chronic stress (constant stress experienced over a prolonged period) can lead to both physical and psychological health issues; therefore, learning effective stress management is beneficial for overall health. Implementing a stress management plan can help individuals develop effective coping skills, manage stress-related symptoms, and reduce pain levels.

Stress can increase the perception of pain, and pain can increase levels of stress. It is often a vicious cycle. The muscles tense when faced with a stressor, which can cause and/or increase neck, shoulder, and back pain. Muscle tension can also cause tension headaches and migraines. Furthermore, when stress is experienced, the immune system activates an inflammatory response, which increases pain.

Recognizing stress and identifying stressors are the first steps of stress management. Recognizing stress involves paying attention to physical and emotional symptoms of stress, such as irritability, headaches, increased heart rate, and upset stomach. Identifying stressors involves pinpointing the situations or events that cause symptoms and implementing coping strategies.

A few strategies and techniques that can help ease stress include the following: