Is Stress Hurting Your Body?
We all know that stress can affect us emotionally. We’ve all been “stressed out” over different situations that cause us to worry and lose sleep at night. Yet, stress can affect more than just your emotional well-being. Stress can affect your joint health and play a massive role in how your body feels. Physical stress can cause fatigue, headaches, aches, and pains and leave you more vulnerable to colds and infections. Understanding the relationship between stress and your body can help you feel better and move with more ease.
As stated before, everyone experiences stress from time to time. When excessive tension causes your stress levels to stay elevated, stress can begin to have a negative impact on your body. When the body is under stress, the muscles tense up. When the muscles are tense and do not have the chance to relax, tightness can cause headaches, back, shoulder, neck pain, and other body aches.
Cortisol is known as the body’s built-in alarm system. It is the body’s primary stress hormone that works with your brain to control your body’s many interworking systems. For instance, cortisol helps fuel your body’s “fight-or-flight” instinct in a crisis. It also helps to regulate your blood pressure, and it increases your blood sugar, manages how your body uses carbs, fats, and proteins, reduces inflammation, controls your sleep/wake cycle, as well as boosts your energy so you can handle stress and restore balance afterward.
When it comes to your joints, inflammation is regulated by cortisol. However, prolonged stress to the body can damage cortisol’s effectiveness and cause inflammation to become severely unbalanced. When inflammation occurs in joints, pain, discomfort, and stiffness can make movement difficult.
There are different ways to both decrease your stress level and benefit your body. Below are the top four ways to regulate the physical impacts of stress.
- Reduce your stress level. While this may sound cliché or too easy, the fact is that you will not decrease stress’s negative impact until you reduce the amount of stress on your body. The best way to tackle stress-related physical problems is to tackle the root of the problem. Discover what is causing stress and begin eliminating it.
- Exercise. Exercise is incredibly beneficial to the entire body: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Even if it is the last thing you want to do after a taxing day, exercise helps produce endorphins (aka – the “feel good” hormone), and they can act as a natural painkiller. Exercise also helps maintain a healthy weight, so you are not putting extra weight and pressure on your joints. Walking and swimming are the two most beneficial exercises that almost anyone can do.
- Maintain a healthy diet. “You are what you eat.” If you repeatedly feed your body junk, don’t be surprised when you feel junk. Your diet has a significant impact on your body’s stress levels and joint health. Not only is calcium vital for bones and joints, but vitamin D is necessary to help absorb the calcium that you eat. Vitamin D can be found in orange juice, eggs, tuna, sardines, shrimp, cereals, and more. Spending 10-15 minutes out in the sun each day will also help you meet your vitamin D requirement.
- Supplement your diet with collagen. Collagen is the main structural protein in the extracellular matrix found in the body’s connective tissues. As we age, our collagen production decreases, and the quality of natural collagen lessens. Supplementation of collagen can play a protective role in the degeneration of bone mass and joint movement.
If you are suffering from bodily aches, pains, or discomfort due to stress, please contact Medici Spine and Pain. Our goal is to help patients achieve optimal health and overall wellness through multidisciplinary, personalized treatment plans.
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