Have you ever had a day or even a week where your stress controls how you go about your daily activities?

Does it ever seem like you can’t complete all of your tasks or some movements just feel uncomfortable?

The amount of stress you experience each day can lead to difficulties with daily activities such as cleaning the house, walking the dog, or doing yard work due to increased pain levels.

Let’s start by talking about different types of stressors and how they can affect our bodies physically.

4 Different Types of Stress.

1. Acute Stress:

  • This is your fight or flight response.
    Example: When something scares you, like a deer jumping out in front of your car. It causes your adrenaline to start pumping and it can take a little over an hour for your nerves to calm down.

2. Chronic Stress:

  • This type of stress is when something bothers us over several weeks or months, but we sweep it under the rug.
    Example: We have bills to pay that we can’t afford for several months. This kind of stress, when not controlled, can affect our health physically.

3. Eustress:

These are positive stressors in our life.
Example: Having a baby or trying to make new friends.

4. Distress:

  • These are negative stressors in our life.
    Example: Going through a divorce or not being able to pay your bills.

How does chronic stress affect us physically?

When our bodies are under large amounts of stress over a prolonged period of time, it can affect our musculoskeletal system and ultimately make it difficult to perform daily activities.

What most people will notice is that they experience:

  • Increased tension in the muscles
  • Possible headaches, shoulder pain, low back pain, and neck pain to name a few
  • Muscles easily fatigue and you feel like you have low energy
  • Foggy memory
  • More likely to injure yourself when lifting, pushing, or pulling an object

People find that they have a hard time completing their daily activities when they are struggling with high levels of stress.

Most of the time, patients will verbalize that they started experiencing pain following a long period of stress and now it is difficult for them to do their typical routine.

When their pain levels continue to increase, most people will stop doing the activity that is painful to them, whether it is mowing the grass, taking out the trash, or typing on the computer. This can add additional stress to the person’s life now that they can’t perform the activities that they need to do.

Do you see the cycle starting here?

It is important to address two areas when dealing with this situation.

1. Determine where your stress is coming from.

  • Can you eliminate the stressor?
  • Can you talk with someone about what is bothering you?
  • Can you find a calming activity to help reduce your stress?

If you need examples of something to help reduce stress, view our infographic on 12 Simple Things to Manage and Prevent Stress here. 

2. Address your pain that is restricting your ability to complete your daily activities.

  • See a physical therapist to help with posture, breathing, and strengthening exercises.
  • Work with a personal trainer that can help guide you through exercises that are right for you.
  • Explore seeing a massage therapist to reduce tension.

Chronic stress should not cause you pain or restrict your ability to perform your daily activities.

If it does, make sure to seek out the additional help you need as many individuals have great success with physical activity and mindfulness exercises to improve their pain and stress levels.

Kimberly Painter, PT, DPT  is a licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy at Mettler Center. 

Call 217-398-9800 to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with a physical therapist.