Anxiety can induce physical pain

There is a rise of awareness for mental illness all over the world. Concern for rising mental health issues is shared by all forms of media every day. With issues involving the brain, the concern for physical pain that seems to coincide with anxiety and mental stress in the past has been explained as being all in the head. Lately though, scientists are discovering that the mind/body connection is so intertwined that mental illness can accelerate poor physical condition and disease. 

According to Harvard Medical School  About 65 percent of patients seeking help for depression and anxiety also report at least one type of pain symptom. Different kinds of body pain due to anxiety and anxious thoughts can include pain syndromes, such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, low back pain, headaches and nerve pain. 

The physical pain related to anxiety often is a moderate sensation that is often a similar signal of injury or illness.The specific kinds are acute pain is when the pain lasts for only a few minutes or even six months. Acute pain occurs in soft tissues and may become chronic if it is not treated correctly. 

According to chronic pain due to anxiety can trigger inflammation and immune disorders that then turn into various onset diseases, such as diabetes. Often these types of diseases are often due to medical conditions. 

When medical conditions are ruled out, pain can often be found to be  the result of ongoing anxiety. Inflammation from an immune response can be very dangerous to overall well being. This is a vicious circle of un wellness once triggered.

As a student in high school, we are often under enormous pressures with work, activities, tests and so much more. It’s common for us to get some form of stress and pain because of all of these factors. These stresses will increase as we attend higher educational institutions like college and university. 

Knowing ways to deal with anxiety that might lead to more serious physical complications is important. Thankfully there’s plenty of support in universities in Iowa. The University of Iowa Student Health department offers these suggestions for managing your stress, in the form of a three week plan to better stress management.


Weekly Challenges Include:

Week One: Reduce stress with MOVEMENT and NUTRITION

  1. Eat one meal without distraction.
  2. Try out an eating meditation*
  3. Enjoy 2 fruits or veggies for snacks today.
  4. Spend 30 minutes getting active in a way you enjoy today.
  5. Go for a walk/get active with a friend today.
  6. Try out mindful movement or a walking meditation.*

Week Two: Reduce stress with SLEEP and TIME MANAGEMENT

  1. Do one thing today that will help you feel more organized.
  2. Try a body scan or deep belly breathing before bed.*
  3. Avoid using your phone in bed tonight and sleep with it across the room or in a different room.
  4. Practice the Pomodoro Method while studying today.*
  5. Write a list of the things that matter most to you. Does this align with where you’re dedicating your time and energy?
  6. Try to step away from social media today. Instead, focus on something that makes you feel good.

Week Three: Reduce stress with HEALTHY CONNECTION

  1. Tell a friend you are grateful for them.
  2. Do one small thing for someone today.
  3. Write down three things you are grateful for today.
  4. Try out a Loving Kindness Meditation*
  5. Explore somewhere you’ve never been.
  6. Prioritize getting outside today.

Do not ignore the signs of ongoing anxiety or anxious thoughts. As the school year wraps up and the pressure to end the year well, take time to organize your thoughts. Taking 10 minutes after school and before homework to practice mindfulness, take a walk with a friend or family member, shoot some hoops or even just sitting quietly, eyes closed for 10 minutes, will relieve some anxiety and protect you from physical pain.

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