As a physical therapist, I see many people with chronic pain. And over the last couple of years, I have seen just as many people with chronic stress. I believe that the increased emphasis on technology in our society (as well as a poor economy) has created less breaks in our work schedules and more unrealistic expectations from our employers. Unfortunately, chronic pain and chronic stress look very much alike and have similar negative consequences.
Both chronic pain and chronic stress involve three factors: Perception, an emotional component and a physiological reaction. It is the physiological manifestations of pain and stress that cause the long term diseases; Increased muscle tension, increase blood pressure, poor eating habits, decreased breathing and poor oxygen exchange, increased heart rate and increased levels of the hormone, Cortisol. . Research shows that both chronic pain and chronic stress negatively affect memory and thought processes. Both chronic pain and chronic stress AGES your brain. They also hamper creativity and productivity.
With chronic pain, the brain looks different. There is a change in the brain’s ability to process chronic pain – the nerves in the spinal cord actually become more easily excited by even the smallest amount of pain. So chronic pain makes you more susceptible to pain and, I believe, the same is true for stress. Stress leads to more stress. You get stuck in a vicious cycle. Because of a reprogramming of the central nervous system, you can no longer handle even the most minor stressful situations.
From the research on chronic pain, we can extrapolate that stress may be best treated by re-conditioning the brain – hitting the “re-do” button if you will- in the part of your brain that analyses stress. To do this you must create moments when your attention is sufficiently drawn away from stress that you are almost stress free.
For a lot of us, this only happens when we are on vacation. Even weekends are no longer sacred time off from stress and responsibility. Most people feel better physically and mentally while on vacation. The question becomes, how do we recreate that “vacation state of mind” on a daily basis?
In a recorded, free phone call, myself, PR expert Lisa Elia and expressionist painter Amadea Bailey explore ways to re-condition the brain by moving your attention away from stress. What can you do on a daily basis to handle stress with grace so that you can function at your best, most creative self? Time pressure and overwhelm zap us of energy and creativity. In the call, you will learn ways to create a state of relaxation – even in the face of everyday stressors so that you can fuel your creative fire and be on vacation (sort of) everyday.
Simply click on the link below, register (it is free) and listen to the call recording.