Stress and Chronic Pain, they are tightly linked, and what I learned from this double-edged sword!
In recent years I have been as diligent as possible to maintain my body’s natural state of health and be as free from chronic pain as possible. Being a sufferer of osteoarthritis in the ankles, knees and spine, doesn’t make this task as easy as it sounds. I have steered clear of any ‘off the shelf” painkillers or anti-inflammatory medication for nearly 8 years, and I try to regulate my pain naturally through diet, herbs, and supplements. Seeing as I live a natural lifestyle in as many facets as I can, and regardless of the fact, I create my own income. You would think that I would remain relatively stress-free right? I do… mostly… I swear..
When it came time to launch my business ‘officially’ in 2017. I went through a serious of events that led me to deal with a highly stressful few days in succession. I travelled to Sydney to attend the hemp health and innovation expo, to share my fancy new business cards, and mingle amongst other like-minded cannabis advocates and creatives. Upon my arrival, I was sweating on the deadline of my website being completed, my product packaging arrived the day I left, and it was made out of the wrong material and the wrong colour. Relatively minor issues, unless you’re a perfectionist like me! Nitty gritty dramas aside, I was coming to the end of my budget that I allowed launching Hemp Factory, and there I was ready to release my hemp foods to the world, with butterflies in my gut, and so much anticipation for what the future has to hold for me and the mission I had to educate people on why they need to see the sweet, kind, and caring side to the plant that many others once called the devils grass.
All throughout this same week, my back pain had been bothering me tenfold. I suffered a rugby injury at 15 that has left with some dodgy discs and developing arthritis around the T5-T6 vertebrae. As I said though, I usually have this managed, but man it was bothering me a lot, and adding to my stress levels. Whilst in Sydney I had met up with my father for the night, as he lives and works in the southern highlands of NSW. When I saw him, he had mentioned a couple of times that he did not feel so great, and he thought he was coming down with something. To me, he looked a little off colour and clammy, but I didn’t think more of it, and I was also a little wrapped up in how crappy I felt from the previous couple of days that didn’t go to plan, and the chronic pain I still had in my back. After we caught up and had a meal, I jumped on a plane back to Brisbane, and no sooner had I landed and turned my phone, I had a single text that said something like this.Dad; In the hospital, may have had a heart attack. Ok at this stage… Don’t Stress! Shit. I jumped in an uber, got home, re-packed a bag, booked a flight back to Sydney.I landed with no further contact with my father, only to be informed via text by my Aunty who had a call from the hospital while I was on the plane. “Your Dad is in surgery, we are not going to know what Is happening until you get to the hospital”. After a four-hour train ride, I arrived. He was ok, but tears streamed down his face when I walked in the door. That was a close call, and I was so anxious, stressed and in chronic pain, I thought I was going to have a heart attack.
The chronic pain in my back now was almost unbearable, and my stress levels were through the roof. This same month I had landed in the hospital myself with heart palpitations, and I had to undergo a procedure to shock it back into rhythm. (Check out the video below I discuss in a little more detail).These high-stress situations took a toll on my health, but also began to paint a clearer picture in my head as to why these things were happening, and why my chronic pain was becoming hard to deal with. I have become a master at reading how my body feels in recent years, and I wanted to dig deeper into how I felt and how I could manage it without popping pills. I’m stressed >>>> My back hurts
My back hurts >>>>> I’m getting stressed and anxious so easily. There is a link, chronic stress feeds chronic pain, and chronic pain inhibits your ability to deal with stress! Why is this? There are a few things that contribute. Severe chronic pain can be the driver from things like injuries and infections, but also Inflammation of the gut, and neural inflammation which limits your brain’s ability to support the central nervous system to deal with chronic pain and stress. There are two main ways I found to naturally assists these types of inflammation, and that is minerals like magnesium, which is so important, and in my case why I was having issues, as I had been severely mineral depleted from lots of training and travel, without supplementing with trace minerals. Omega fatty acids also help with inflammation and offer the cells and cell membranes in your brain, and the body with all the protection and nutrients they need to fluid and functional.I like to think of root causes, and not be so quick to reach for the ibuprofen, and band-aid the issues. Trying a little base essential nutrients and taking five minutes to really breath deep and dig deeper into why you might be going through, chronic pain and stress will go along way in helping your long-term pain, and stress management plan.
After all, like I said. 8 years. no off the shelf painkillers. If I can do it. I would like to see you give it a try, and see how you feel.Article – Tom Dunphy (founder Hemp Factory)
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