Expand the Wellness Toolbox to Tackle Chronic Pain and Stress

by Juli Johnson

We are all guilty of letting stress permeate into various aspects of our lives. There are many elements of stress that we do not have control over, but we do have control of our response to the stressors. Life sometimes seems to throw a lot at us, and whether temporary or ongoing, too many stressors can eventually send us into a tailspin. When we feel overwhelmed, our minds race and soon we begin to feel the physical manifestations of stress, like back pain, headaches, heartburn, digestive upset and poor sleep.

It’s important to remember, however, that stress can be managed. It is not the stress itself that can be so dangerous to our health, it is our reaction to it. There’s no need to let everyday stress take us down a negative path. A little self-care can go a long way.

Good practices to handle stress are essential when it comes to successfully self-managing chronic pain. There is only so much that can be done to reduce chronic pain, but there is no end to how well one can control the stressors that result from chronic pain. It does require work, motivation and perseverance, but by doing so, it gets better. Pain becomes more tolerable. By reducing the amount of stress in life, it’s possible to also reduce pain itself.

It’s far healthier to turn inward and take a look at how we approach life. Is there room for a little meditation or movement during the day? Turn off the screens for just a few minutes and pay attention to breathing. Take a moment to check in and find a little perspective. Consider that maybe something on that to-do list can wait.

It’s possible to find a beautiful bounty of resilience within the self when one strengthens his or her whole foundation and approach to life with exercise, wholesome food and meditation. One might simply need just a little solitude or time in nature, a few rounds of breathwork throughout the day or an earlier bedtime to aid in quality sleep. One of the most important steps in stress reduction is mindfulness. Take time to assess how things are in life. Be mindful of health and reflect on mental, physical and spiritual wellness. This triad requires balance for optimal well-being.

Make sure to care for the self before taking care of others. Try to identify one thing in your personal world that can use an adjustment. Add pieces weekly to make steady progress. This helps to make sustainable changes, and small steps truly do add up and make a difference. So, take a deep breath, move those bones, eat real food, get some sleep and you will see big changes in life.

Juli Johnson is an advanced practice nurse in adult acute care, focusing on oncology, hematology and integrative medicine. She’s an integrative medicine practitioner at INTEGRIS. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 405-773-6400.

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