The Financial Crisis, Your Arthritis Pain and How to Help Yourself
Is it my imagination, or does my neck hurt more when stocks are falling?
We have discussed this before in my previous blogs. However, with the economy on shaky ground to say the least, it seems as relevant as ever. I hear more and more of my patients asking if it is possible that their pain increased in the last couple of weeks with falling stock prices and increased stresses.
The first step to reducing the impact that stress has on your pain is to acknowledge it. The second step is to take active steps to reduce that stress.
The Mind Body Connection
The connection between the mind and body is real and immediate. When you are tired, stressed, angry, or frustrated, the chemicals floating in your body will amplify any pain you already have. The good news is that, reciprocally, taking the time to relax and meditate will help to reduce those chemicals and reduce the pain. As times get more stressful it is more important than ever to set aside a little time for yourself to help yourself relax. Doing this will not only make you feel better, it will also help you be more productive and better able to handle the stresses that will still be there.
An Easy Meditation Technique
Try it! Set aside ten minutes. Turn off your Blackberry or cellular phone, television, radio, and anything else that beeps, buzzes, or rings. Then, find a quiet place to sit and relax. Kick off your shoes and sit in a comfortable chair. Focus on your breathing. Breathe slowly in through your nose. Feel the air filter into your nostrils and down deep into your lungs. Then slowly exhale. Try inhaling for a slow count of 4 and exhale for a slow count of 6.
Don't think about your day or about the worries on your mind. Those worries will still be there when you are done relaxing. For these few minutes, your focus should be on your breathing -- in and out, nice and slow. As you do this, notice your heart rate lower and your tension release. This effect is real. Your mind profoundly affects the way your body feels, and the way your body responds to pain.
Meditating is harder than you may think. It takes work and dedication. Try taking one 10-minute break everyday for two weeks. During this break, find a quiet room and focus on your breathing. When intrusive thoughts come into your head, see them, acknowledge that they are there but then let them go away just as quickly as they came. The better you get at this, the fewer thoughts will enter your mind as you relax. When the thoughts do come up, notice how negative energy and emotions are so often associated with them. Feel your heart rate briskly increase and your blood pressure rise. Note how unhelpful that bodily reaction is and let it pass just as quickly as it came.
Try the meditating and then I would encourage you to write in and share your experiences with other readers online. At times like these, we can all draw support from one another.
I hope you have found this blog helpful. And, as always, I wish you good health because with good health, all things are possible.