The next thing that I want to say about chronic pain is that people that suffer with chronic pain are much more likely to suffer with depression. That may seem completely obvious. It may not even need to be said. It’s like, of course, if you’re hurting all the time, you’re going to be depressed. But it actually goes beyond the obvious reasons. So it is not just because you are depressed because you’re hurting all the time. It is not just because you are depressed because you maybe can’t accomplish the things you want to, like I talked about last time or you can’t have fun or enjoyed time with friends and family in the same ways as you want to. It’s not even because of those reasons that chronic pain sufferers also typically suffer with depression or more commonly do.
It is because of your brain and the pain centers in your brain, especially the chronic pain centers, those are related to the centers in your brain that are activated in depression. So it’s like you’re a button in your brain that’s being pushed over and over. And every time there’s pain signals being sent to your brain, it’s also activating that portion of your brain that processes depression. So this goes beyond just I’m hurting, so that depresses me.
You need to realize if you suffer with chronic pain, again, bringing from the last post that I made, give yourself some grace, but also recognize that there’s a reason why you’re feeling this way. There’s a reason that you’re struggling with depression. So, that bringing in that mental health aspect and not just chalking it up too well, I’m in pain all the time so of course, I’m depressed. Get some support in that area as well. As most of you know, I’m a huge advocate for mental health support at all times and especially if you suffer with chronic pain, there may be some deeper things there that you definitely need support for. So please take care of yourself. Get some mental health support.
Here at Hurley Chiropractic and Wellness Center we take care of the whole family! Our patients start as young as a few days after birth and we continue care for as long as they need! As children grow and go to school, participate in sports and are active throughout their adolescent life maintenance adjustments help keep their nervous system balanced, therapies and rehabilitative stretching help with muscles as well as massages! As adults we are not caring for ourselves but also our little humans so we need to make self care a priority to stay balanced and to help reduce stress on the regular!
In the current state of the world, many people are experiencing higher than usual levels of stress and anxiety. Many people develop this increased stress and anxiety due to an imbalance between the sympathetic (stress mode) and parasympathetic (repair mode) divisions of the nervous system. Learning how to restore balance between the two by increasing the parasympathetic side and decreasing the sympathetic side in a natural holistic way can help many that complain of stress and anxiety.
There are many different tools and techniques that can be used to help balance the nervous system –the following are a few that I highly recommend.
Box breathing is a breathing technique that involves a series of breaths in and out, with periods of holding your breath in between each inhale and exhale. For example, box breathing with four second intervals would start with a 4 second inhale, followed by holding the inhale for 4 seconds, then exhaling for 4 seconds, finishing with a 4 second hold after the exhale. This process is repeated for a number of cycles. I usually recommend people begin with 10 cycles, then stop and see how you feel.
Mediation may seem daunting to many because their minds are so worked up that they can’t seem to sit still and slow their brain down. Meditation can look different for different people, though. Some prefer guided meditations in which you sit and listen to someone else guide you through an audible meditation, whereas others may prefer to sit and listen to the ocean, the rain fall, or a calm stream flow through a forest as they turn their attention and mind inward. There are also many smartphone apps now to help guide you through the process. Some of my favorites are Headspace or Inscape.
Herbs & Supplements
There are many herbs and supplements out there that promise to help reduce stress and anxiety. Some of my favorites are Lavender, Valerian Root, Passionflower, Chamomile, Ashwagandha, L-Theanine, Kava and CBD. Without getting into too much details behind each one, just know they all help the body deal with stress and promote relaxation! It is important to remember though, that supplements are not regulated by the FDA. Because of this, you typically get what you pay for. I recommend using a supplement company that utilizes non-biased, third party testing to ensure quality and purity of the products they advertise. (We use Designs for Health and highly recommend them!)
Massage is helpful for relieving physical stress, as well as mental/emotional, that is held in the muscles of our body. Having the healing touch of a massage therapist not only relaxes the muscles, but relaxes the mind as well.
Chiropractic is one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce stress, as it helps the body deal with the physical, mental and emotional stress our body’s store. Furthermore, though, it helps our nervous systems ADAPT to future stresses as well. This happens because the spine and nervous system are so closely related to one another. When we have an issue in the spine, whether we feel it or not, we have an issue with the nervous system. Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to decrease the sympathetic nervous system activity, while also increasing the parasympathetic nervous system, thus creating more balance, resilience and adaptability within the nervous system.