Woman working with stress and chronic pain

Your work stress can be affecting the intensity of your pain.

The year is just starting and you already had to take sick days and are worried that you may not have enough for the whole year. If you are like me and millions of chronic pain sufferers, this is an annual problem. Sadly, many chronic pain sufferers have to go on disability because their condition does not allow them to work continuously. However, there is still hope to continue working despite your ailment/s. 

One thing we often neglect when we are in physical pain is the additional pain that is caused by our mental state. This does NOT mean that your pain is “made-up”, this means that the tension and stressors in our bodies and not allowing for the body to naturally heal itself. It is important to address both the physical issues and our mental stress triggers to be able to reduce our pain. But how can this be done when work itself is a huge stressor? 

Take 1 step at a time

When we look at the big picture of our life, our family, our work, and our pain, it can seem overwhelming to make any sort of change. When we see everything that is going wrong or not our way, we often give up before we even try. I recently read Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg, PhD where he uses a technique to break down any goal into the smallest action possible and links it to a trigger. Let’s say that you want to start meditating because you heard that could help. Instead of setting your timer to 20 minutes and putting some mediation waterfall at some random time during the day, do it tiny. This could be closing your eyes and taking 3 deep breaths every morning when your feet touch the floor. The trigger is your feet touching the floor and the tiny action are the breaths. You will have no excuses to do it because it’s so easy and you will always remember because putting your feet on the floor is already part of your everyday habits. This will take away a lot of the overwhelm and put you in control.

Plan your day for success

Write down the most important thing that you must get done at work for that day and put it in your calendar first. When you are able to achieve this, your brain will be triggered to relax because it will have that “win”. You may get stressed thinking about what is most important on your list, but just pick one. Forward progress is better than lack of action or unnecessary pressure to try to complete too much in the day. You can also check in with your boss to make sure that you are on the right track. An unexpected outcome is that by completing 1 important task, other tasks will follow more easily.

Decompress Nightly

Stress and anxiety can accumulate throughout the day and by the time you are ready for bed, the body may be in the most amount of tension. If your body is tense it will have your nervous system overworking at night instead of recovering. I use the Aromalief Calming Lavender Cream to massage my neck and shoulders where I carry most of my tension. Then I take out a notebook and write down all that is worrying me and make a note that I will rest tonight to have the energy to work on anything that is bothering me in the morning. This helps to take my issues out of my head and onto paper. 

Don’t let stress and tension creep up on you and make your chronic pain worse. Use these 3 tips to reduce work stress for chronic pain relief.