Stress is a powerful, overwhelming feeling. Not only can it make your heart race, your blood pressure rise, and your head hurt, stress can be responsible for serious neck, shoulder, and back pain. Stress also contributes to other chronic illnesses, impairs the healing process, and prevents you from feeling completely healthy.
Why Stress Makes You Chronically Ill
If you work at a desk every day, you are more likely to experience back pain, not only because of the way your body is hunched over, but because of inactivity. Add stress to this situation and any pain you already have can be intensified and last longer. Stress-induced inflammation interferes with minimizing any back pain.
Along with exacerbating back pain, stress also contributes to other health problems, including:
- Sleep deprivation: If you aren’t rested, you are more susceptible to a host of health problems. Stress also aggravates the sleeplessness, and the absence of rest and constant presence of stress becomes a vicious cycle.
- Weight gain: Are you a stress eater? Many people are. Even if you don’t overeat when you’re stressed, you may be far more likely to reach for convenient and less healthy foods. Neglecting to fuel your body properly only contributes to more stress and more body pain. Plus, higher levels of cortisol increase fat on the abdomen, and excess belly fat is a threat to the cardiovascular system.
- Depression: Stress is often associated with anxiety and a racing state of mind, but it can also manifest as depression, throwing hormones out of whack and negatively affecting sleep habits and how you eat. Poor rest and nutrition can then lead to other health problems.
- Diabetes: When you’re stressed, you are more likely to exercise less, make unhealthy eating choices, drink more, and sleep poorly. A high stress response typically produces higher insulin levels. This rise in glucose levels is dangerous for people with diabetes and those who are pre-diabetic.
While the initial cloud of stress that attacks your body can increase adrenaline levels, it’s the continued release of cortisol from constant stress that leads to inflammation, insulin resistance, and painful joint diseases.
Controlling Chronic Stress to Alleviate Back Pain and More
Chronic stress can lead to and worsen chronic illness. What research has found, however, is that having a strong support system facilitates healing. This is the reason so many people turn to functional medicine. A functional medicine team is not interested in putting a band-aid on whatever ails you, whether it be stress or back pain – our goal is to find the source of your problems and promote healing.
Functional medicine happens through a variety of methods, all of which are customized to your needs, abilities, and current state of health. Environmental changes, lifestyle shifts, and more are all considered in developing a healing plan for you. Living better and focusing on the interconnectedness of your body and its systems will improve your state of being and naturally relieve stress and give you the rest and good health to cope better with whatever challenges come your way.
If you are stressed, and you need help for back pain, weight loss, or are seeking a trusted medical team to support you in developing and sticking to major lifestyle changes, contact the Restorative Wellness Center in Ann Arbor to schedule your consultation.