There is no doubt that the past year brought new levels of stress to our lives. The prolonged uncertainty of the pandemic ushered in a host of stressors from which we are only now beginning to recover. These stressors have taken a toll on our minds and our bodies.
As we return to a new normal, you can help your mind and body recover. You can unwind and heal with the help of some natural, easy, and drug-free pain and stress-relieving strategies. Heat therapy is clinically proven to relieve stress-related aches and pains. Incorporating regular heat therapy with the Thermalon Thermal Wrap is one way to get relief from the stress stored in your body.
Did You Know Prolonged Stress Can Cause Body Aches and Pains?
Even though we may mentally feel fine, our bodies can sometimes tell a different story. By ignoring the stress, anxiety, anger, or other difficult emotions we may be feeling, we can transfer the tension they create to our bodies. Daily stressors and unprocessed emotions build up. They might surface not as an emotional outburst, but as a backache, a crick in our neck, or a pounding headache.
If we are anxious or worried, we tense up, particularly in our neck and shoulders. Muscle tension can lead to the buildup of lactic acid, which can lead to muscle pains. When muscles are tight, blood flow to those joints may be restricted, further causing aches and soreness.
Where are your shoulders as you read this? Scrunched up by your ears? Take a deep breath and as you exhale, push your shoulders down away from your ears while envisioning your neck growing long. Doesn’t that feel better? The problem is that when we are stressed (or sitting in front of a computer all day), we may spend eight or more hours with our shoulders and neck in this tensed position.
Where are your shoulders as you read this? Scrunched up by your ears? Take a deep breath and as you exhale, push your shoulders down away from your ears while envisioning your neck growing long. Doesn’t that feel better?
When we are stressed, we most commonly hold tension in our upper back and shoulders. It turns out there are other parts of your body where accumulated stress can show up as aches and pains as well:
- Jaw (especially if you are known to clench or grind your teeth)
- Head (tension headaches, migraines)
- Hips (when sitting for long work days)
- Wrists and Hands (carpal tunnel syndrome, when typing for long hours)
The Physical Toll of Working From Home
Long hours spent sitting and working, usually in front of screens, worsens stress-related muscle aches. With the pandemic, working from home became the new normal for many people. Most of our home offices (aka couch, bed, or kitchen table) do not have properly-fitted desks, work chairs, computer monitors, or lighting.
Unwinding The Stress, Pain, Sleep Disorder Cycle
Another way in which prolonged stress causes body aches and pains is by disrupting our sleep. When we can’t fall asleep, we tend to toss and turn, trying to find a comfortable position. If you are already in pain, it is harder to fall asleep. One study estimated that two-thirds of people with chronic pain have sleep disorders, of which insomnia is the most common. Even before the pandemic, more than one-third of adults reported symptoms of insomnia. Sleep is the time when our bodies and brains heal and recover from the stress of the day. With a bad’s night sleep, we perceive more pain the following day. In other words, insomnia can make you more sensitive to any pain the next day.
How Moist Heat Therapy Can Help You Recover
Moist heat is used by hospitals and doctors for the natural and effective treatment of chronic pain and for relief of muscle or back pain. Moist heat is different from dry heat because it can penetrate more deeply into your muscles. The increased blood flow to the heated area brings more healing nutrients and fresh oxygen. It also carries away any harmful accumulated toxins and lactic acid, providing lasting relief. The heat allows clenched or spasming muscles to relax. Heat therapy has a relaxing and sedating effect on nerves.
Heat, and the pain relief it brings, in turn, helps your mind relax. Feeling physical warmth and comfort can help relieve your mental tension so you have more positive, friendly, and emotionally-warmer feelings.
Cooling down can also include cold therapy, such as using a Thermalon cold pad, to remove harmful substances that buildup during a workout such as lactic acid. High levels of lactic acid can cause muscle pain and stiffness the next day. If your muscles are still stiff from your last workout, you are more likely to injure yourself the next time you take the field.
For those of us having trouble sleeping, either because of mental stress or the physical aches and pains it is causing, Thermalon Moist Heat Technology can help. The soft wraps, sleeves, or pads are easy to fall asleep with without worrying about cords, burns, or any mess in your bed from a wet compress. Sleeping pills or pain medication may make you feel groggy the next day or have unwanted side effects. Instead, you can wake up refreshed after a good night’s sleep with your Thermalon wrap.
Using moist heat is therapeutic. Rather than taking a pill to make the pain go away or to help you get a good night’s sleep, with heat therapy, you can proactively treat your muscle aches, chronic pain, and sleep troubles. You are helping healing by causing muscle relaxation, relieving inflammation, and cultivating relaxation of body and mind.
Relaxation Helps Undo Inflammation Caused by Stress
The prolonged uncertainty of living during a pandemic has driven our bodies’ fight or flight reaction into overdrive. As a result, we are exhausted, depleted, and struggling to find a way to face another day. To rebuild our emotional stores and heal from chronic stress, self-treating with doses of relaxation can help you unwind. De-stressing does not have to be expensive or elaborate.
Some practical and affordable ways to prioritize relaxation for healing are to:
- Incorporate joyful movement such as exercise into your day.
- Spend time in nature.
- Take a bath.
- Relax with a warming eye or body wrap like Thermalon.
- Get at least eight hours of sleep regularly.
- Make time to read a book or magazine.
- Schedule screen-free time every day.
- Try a free online yoga or meditation class.
- Take a break from social media for an entire day, once a week, once a month, whatever is feasible.
- Start a gratitude journal.
Many of these relaxation strategies are clinically proven to help relieve chronic pain, such as regular moderate exercise, mindfulness activities such as meditation and yoga, getting better sleep, and heat therapy.
When using Thermalon body wraps, it is possible to maximize your relaxation therapy and pain relief by combining heat therapy with other activities. For example, you can wear a back wrap while walking in the woods or listening to a meditation podcast. Or, try warming up a sore joint or muscle with heat therapy before a yoga class to increase your range of motion and flexibility.
Moist heat therapy is a more comprehensive approach to pain relief in these post-pandemic (we hope) times. As long as the slightest uncertainty lingers, so too will your stress and body aches. Incorporating heat therapy into a regular routine of relaxation is the perfect antidote to the past year’s-worth of stress. You have earned yourself a break from the COVID19-induced stress, aches, and pains. Now is your time to feel better.
Do you know others who could benefit from some hot or cold therapy? Please share this post and its helpful tips for treating sports injuries!