Reduce Your Stress, Reduce Your Risk
Published July 23, 2012
Everyone has stress, but letting it pile up can cause undo strain on your body. If you already suffer from a painful condition like osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease where the cartilage in your joints wears down over time, the extra stress can add to the pain you feel in your hands, knees, and other joints.
Healthline has 10 ways to relieve stress to help reduce pain. Follow these simple tips and you could be on your way to reducing the stress in your life and therefore helping ease the pain you feel from osteoarthritis.
Easy walks, swimming, and biking can all help reduce stress in your life. Exercise can take your mind off the day's worries. Even better, exercise helps release endorphins, which are hormones that give us a "happy boost." As with any exercise, ease into it and consult your doctor to make sure you won't add strain to your body's current pain.
Eat Well, Lose Weight
Being overweight can add strain on your body and further cause pain in your joints. By changing your diet, you can naturally lose weight, and depending on the type of food you eat, it can help reduce stress. Add fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and food high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, walnuts and olive oil. When you start losing weight, you'll also start feeling better about yourself, thus reducing mental stress.
Regular massage is a fantastic way to relieve stress. By allowing yourself to melt into a table while a trained massage therapist works your muscles, you forget about things that bother you. An hour on a massage table can loosens muscles and joints, and help release harmful toxins in your body.
Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese treatment, allows your body's energy to flow more openly by strategically placing thin needles into specific points in your skin. By helping your internal energy flow, you can help reduce stress and possibly aid in the healing of specific pain.
Keep a Journal
When things build up inside us and we don't talk about them, our stress levels rise and can cause other physical problems to manifest. By keeping a journal, you give yourself a personal outlet to purge your mind of the negativity. After you write, go back and read your entry aloud to yourself to further push it out of your mind.
Wine and a Bath
Pour a glass of wine, light some candles and descend into a warm bath or Jacuzzi. Giving yourself this "me" time lets you relax in a private environment while the stress of the day melts away. Red wine contains an antioxidant called resveratrol that has been linked to reducing blood clots and increasing "good" cholesterol. And the warm water in the tub can help relieve some pain you feel in your joints. You can always add different salts and soaks to your bath to increase relaxation. We recommend Epsom salt for its natural pain-relieving abilities.
People have been practicing yoga for centuries, and its impact still has great relevance today. Performing Hatha or Iyengar yoga helps stretch your muscles and internal organs, builds strength, and brings internal harmony to your body while relaxing your mind. And if you practice yoga even once a week for 90 minutes, it can help reduce stress to your joints, relieving pain.
Meditation helps calm your mind. Start by either sitting on the floor in a cross-legged position or in a chair with both feet on the floor. Take deep breaths and try to focus on a point in your mind, clearing your thoughts. The meditative act will help you slow your breathing and focus your attention away from burdensome thoughts.
Channel your stress into a creative outlet, like photography or painting. Sitting down at a canvas or taking a camera out with you on a walk in the city or country lets you focus your attention in a creative space.
Volunteer with Children and Laugh!
Kids often have the ability to make us laugh with their unbounded energy and imaginations, and laughter has proven benefits to reduce stress and tension in the body. When you laugh, you release powerful endorphins that deliver warm feelings, further relaxing you and your muscles.