Stress is a regular experience in our lives, and when kept under control, it can have little to no impact on our health and mental wellbeing. However, we are living in turbulent times when stress is pushed to alarming levels.
According to the American Institute of Stress, factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, money issues, inflation, and the war in Ukraine, have all contributed to the escalation of stress. Add to that the usual everyday stress you might be experiencing, and you will get an ideal backdrop for mental health issues and physical health problems.
The consequences can manifest in tension and pain in different areas. Let’s see where your body stores stress and how it can affect you.
If you are feeling tension or debilitating pain in the lower back region, it could be triggered by unexpressed anger or chronic stress. Such emotions, when stored instead of processed, can activate the sympathetic nervous system and apply pressure on the spinal cord.
The best way to get rid of this pain is to process your anger properly. This means expressing your emotions clearly and articulating your frustration to those who have caused it. In time, you will be better equipped to cope with all these emotions. In the meantime, however, dealing with the symptom itself is hard enough. It always helps to get a good night’s sleep, so find a comfortable mattress that provides appropriate back support and pain relief.
Neck and Shoulders
Tension in the neck and shoulders is linked to being burdened by too many responsibilities. It can also be a reaction to overwork.
So, the solution might be to share your responsibilities with some of your coworkers and family members. Also, you can try to reduce pressure on the neck and shoulders with massages, appropriate pillows, and practicing neck release exercises.
The concept of a broken heart might be poetic, but in reality, hurt feelings really can result in a feeling of heaviness and even pain in the chest area. Extreme stress can cause a feeling of tightness in the chest and shallow breathing. This can escalate to a panic attack.
The right response to this is, believe it or not, to embrace and express your feelings. Also, you can practice deep breathing exercises to calm yourself instantly and to prepare to cope with stressful situations in the future.
The Respiratory System
Similar to torso tension, respiratory system issues are manifested through shallow breaths. Some scary situations can cause reactions such as this, but so can prolonged stress. Again, it is imperative to approach your mental health seriously and check treatment options. You can also build resilience with deep breathing and meditation practices.
“I am sick to my stomach” and “I feel it in my gut” are common expressions, and there is a good reason for that. Many people lose control over their bowels or bladders when they experience extreme fear. This happens because our intestines and stomachs store feelings of fear, so to speak. Fear can cause bloating, pain in the gut, constipation, and digestion problems.
Accepting your fear and talking to someone can help. To calm your stomach quickly, drink a cup of peppermint tea.
Headaches can happen when we are exposed to prolonged stress or when we feel like we are losing control over a situation. If you are a “control freak” who feels like everything is slipping away from you, this can even turn into a chronic problem of migraines. Pain killers may provide instant relief, but you’ll need to work on accepting that some things are simply impossible to prepare for and control.
When you are feeling tension and pain in the hip area, you may feel physically restricted. It is the region where repressed sexual energy and inflexibility are manifested, and your hips don’t lie. Pelvic floor exercises and hip-opening yoga can provide relief and equip you with resilience for the future.
Some people respond to stress by grinding their teeth and clenching their jaws. This habit strains and tightens the neck muscles and causes jaw pain. It is possible to train yourself to lose this habit by positioning the tip of your tongue between your teeth. Also, you can hold a warm washcloth against your cheek at night. If none of these work, talk to your dentist about the possibility of using a mouth guard to protect your teeth.
Stress can be physically uncomfortable, and it is often linked to repressed emotions. The most valuable advice to give is to fight this discomfort at its root. Face and overcome your stress by accepting it and talking about it.
By Sarah Kaminski
Sarah is a life enjoyer, positivity seeker, and a curiosity enthusiast. She is passionate about an eco-friendly lifestyle and adores her cats. She is an avid reader who loves to travel when time allows.