The Connection Between Stress, Pain, and Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing
by Deborah Haggard, PTA

We recently planned a wedding for our oldest daughter and at times the stress of planning for such a special occasion interrupted sleep, caused indigestion and difficulty concentrating. Unlike my rather hip daughter who happily uses things like a bougie glass bong in order to chill out, I just seem so wound up by constant stress build-up. Stress seems to be an unavoidable part of life and while a little stress can be beneficial, too much stress can make you sick both mentally and physically. Stress has been linked to multiple health problems including stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, insomnia, gastrointestinal issues, etc. so it’s no wonder many are looking to such a Dispensary in Massachusetts and other places local to them.

Many studies support a link between stress and pain. Stress can increase pain and the pain in turn can increase stress. It’s not completely clear yet how stress and pain are so interrelated, however, stressed-out people often experience neck, shoulder, and back pain. This could be due to the link between stress and tension in the muscles, but it could also be related to the brain chemicals that are produced by stress.

So then what relationship does breathing have with stress and pain? Deep breathing is one of the best ways to help decrease stress. Slowing your breathing rate and concentrating on each breath can slow your heart and calm brain activity. There are some great apps that teach you how to slow your breathing rate and that time your inhalation, hold, and exhalation for you. This can also be helped by natural calming remedies, in the many forms they come in these days. For example, aroma therapy, music, reading, or perhaps using one of those rainbow bongs to get some calming cannabis in your system. But also, learning how to control your breathing and slow your heart rate determines how you cope with stress and pain as well.

Diaphragmatic breathing is particularly helpful for reducing stress levels. Learning to breath with the diaphragm, a dome shaped muscle that spans the space below your heart and lungs, can reduce back pain and tension, help you sleep, lower your blood pressure, and improve your core stability. One surprising benefit of diaphragm breathing is at the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve prevents inflammation, is intimately involved with your heart, controls your breathing, and it also communicates between your gut and your brain. In fact there are some studies that point to a connection between illnesses like irritable bowel syndrome and the vagus nerve and implanted vagus nerve electrical stimulators are now being used with success to treat chronic depression and other illnesses. However, if these treatments are not available where you live, many people do find that cannabis, perhaps from this Cannon Beach dispensary, can help them manage their depression and stress although, understandably, this option is not for everyone.

Learning and remembering to breath from the diaphragm can be difficult but there are many videos on the internet showing you different techniques. Below is a simple exercise for you to try:

While lying flat on your back with knees bent, place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. When you take a deep breath in, the hand on the abdomen should rise higher than the one on the chest. This ensures that the diaphragm is pulling air into the base of the lungs.

    • After exhaling through the mouth, take a slow deep breath in through your nose imagining that you are sucking in all the air in the room.
    • Slowly exhale through your mouth.
    • Repeat the cycle.
    • Start with the above exercise or one similar for at least 5 minutes each evening before bed. Gradually start incorporating it into your day, such as while driving or sitting at a desk, until you notice yourself breathing with your diaphragm several times during the day.

We often use diaphragmatic breathing in physical therapy to increase a patient’s tolerance to soft tissue release and to help increase their core strength and awareness. While stress and pain are a normal part of life using tools such as controlled breathing can help you cope and decrease the health effects associated so that you can live a happier, longer, life…one breath at a time.

It is time to take care of yourself. To request an appointment, click here for Elite Relief, or call directly to one of our three locations during regular business hours:

Cool Springs: 615-224-9810
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Disclaimer: The information in this blog is intended to be informational only, and is not intended to be used in lieu of medical care. Consult a doctor or a physical therapist before attempting treatment on your own.

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