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Stress and Neuropathy

 

What is Stress?

Stress is a hormonal reaction that happens when you are in different situations. Your heart rate increases, your muscles tense ready for action. Stress often triggers a fight or flight reaction.

Stress can be broken down into two categories: 

  • Acute Stress: This is a short-terms stress that quickly goes away. When you're stuck in traffic, or can't find your car keys. This is a normal form of stress that generally has no lasting effects on your wellbeing. 
  • Chronic Stress: Chronic stress lasts longer. This can go on for weeks or months. This happens when you are managing a bad financial situation, or taking care of an ill loved one. Chronic stress can often go on for so long, that after awhile you no longer recognize the stressful state that your body is in. 

Stress is a normal part of life, you feel it at work, when you are managing your finances, and even during your daily commute. While a little bit of stress is normal and healthy, too much stress has been shown to have devastating effects on your body - both mentally and physically. 

What are the effects of stress on your body?


Symptoms of chronic stress (or long lasting stress) include:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Obesity
  • Increased Depression
  • Suppressed Immune System
  • Inflammation
  • Changes in the development of the Nervous System
  • Slower Digestion
  • .... and so much more!

 

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How does stress impact neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is caused by damages to the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system (PNS) is what is sends messages to and from the spinal cord and brain, to the rest of the body. When the PNS suffers damage, it sends mixed signals to the central nervous system, causing the painful symptoms of neuropathy and disorientating your body - making balancing and walking difficult.

Stress can cause peripheral nerves in your hands and feet to experience worse numbness, increased burning, and more intense tingling sensations. While stress doesn’t “cause” neuropathy, it can absolutely contribute to your symptoms, so finding ways to reduce your stress load should help lower your suffering.

Ways to manage stress

  • Meditation and Prayer: Time to shut off and shut out all the distractions for even a few minutes! Natural stress relief meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction are types of simple mental techniques that can be practiced for just minutes a day to bring about mindfulness and reduce stress or anxiety. If you’re new to meditation, just focus on being still and calming your thoughts. Prayer can also help with that and has been found to be highly beneficial in stress reduction. 
  • Box Breathing: We take breathing for granted, but many people do not breathe properly or deeply. Box breathing is the method of counting slowly in and out for four breaths each to regulate your breathing pattern. Fill your lungs slowly in through your nose and then exhale slowly out through your mouth. Picture drawing in strength with each deep breath in and ridding yourself of stress with each breath out.
  • Tai Chi: The elderly in Asian countries use Tai Chi for stress reduction, slow purposeful exercise, and balance! Tai Chi incorporates motion and mindfulness, with guided deep breathing incorporated into many classes, whether you attend in person, online, or by watching a DVD - there are levels for everyone, of all ages. 
  • Exercise- that you enjoy! Find something that you can do to get up and move. It may mean taking it slow and easy, so you feel safe and secure, but rest assured the more you try the easier it gets. Start by walking around your home or your driveway, then work your way up to a beautiful park. Go for a bike ride with a friend, or find a fun class at the Y or your local senior center that makes exercising fun (Chair exercises and Tai Chi are great starter classes, work your way up to a dance class is always a hit!)
  • Practice self-care: Take a hot bath with Epsom salts and essential oils, treat yourself to a pedicure, spend some time in a sauna, write in your journal, or do a devotional. Listen to your body and give it some love.
  • Find something funny to focus on! Research has shown that laughter can reduce stress (and who doesn’t love to laugh?) so reading a funny book or watching a funny movie is a great way to redirect your emotions away from stress.

For more on stress, and how to manage it, check out my video on Permission to Pause on YouTube. 

 

 

 

Ready to take the next step to lasting neuropathy relief?

Schedule your Neuropathy Relief Call with my team of experts. 

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