Achy All Over? Stress May Be To Blame

June 17, 2013


Stress hormone cortisol may be the culprit of your aches and pains

Five years ago, I could never seem to get into a rhythm at my high-pressure job. Working as a newspaper reporter fresh out of college, I had demanding deadlines, angry phone calls from readers, two cell phones and long hours. I spent my evenings popping ibuprofen and attempting to massage the knots out of my shoulders (I didn't have an awesome hubby back then).

[caption id="attachment_8412" align="alignleft" width="350"]Do you find yourself in chronic pain and in need of muscle relaxers? Stress may be to blame. Do you find yourself in chronic pain and in need of muscle relaxers? Stress may be to blame.[/caption]

More than tense shoulders, my body literally ached. It ached so much at times it brought tears to my eyes. I started to diagnose myself — perhaps these were the early signs of fibromyalgia or something more serious? I can't tell you how many times I was prescribed muscle relaxers to treat the surface of the real problem: stress.

Stress Literally Hurts

We're reminded nearly every day how bad stress is. And if we're honest with ourselves, some of us wear our stressful situations like badges of honor. Shoot, I know I have. At one time, I directly correlated my stress levels with how successful I was.

But stress does more than twist your tummy in knots and leave you feeling unsettled. It releases a surge of the hormone called cortisol, which is released whenever our minds perceive a threat or danger. It increases another hormone, prolactin, which increases the body’s pain sensitivity. So you already know what that means: When you’re stressed out, you can expect headaches and muscle aches on top of everything else.

Are you tired of hurting all the time? Here are some ways to reduce your stress:

  • Exercise regularly

  • Practice mindfulness or meditation

  • Cut out negative thoughts

  • Decrease feelings of being overwhelmed by determining what’s important and eliminating what’s not

  • Rest

  • Breathe and let it go

What do you find yourself stressing out about the most? What do you do to relieve that stress? Share it with your community in the comments section below.


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