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How Stress Increases the Experience of Pain

Stress can effect people of all ages and genders, and lead to both physical and psychological health issues. Stress is a silent killer, leading to anxiety, depression, insomnia, a weakened immune system, and even cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure and heart attacks. Some stress can be beneficial, such as the boost stress provides to help people meet deadlines. However, too much stress can have major health consequences. New research has found that stress also reduces our ability to withstand physical pain.

The study, led by Professor Ruth Defrin of the Department of Physical Therapy at Tel Aviv University in Israel, found that high levels of stress significantly increases pain while simultaneously reducing the body’s ability to cope with it. 

The participants, all young males, first completed some tests on their ability to withstand pain. They were then subjected to a psychological trick to raise their stress levels. They were given a number of test questions and told that the average score was 80-90%; however, the participants were unable to score above 45% no matter how hard they tried, causing them to feel psychological stress.

The researchers placed people into groups based on their stress levels after the trick test, then measured how that stress affected their ability to withstand pain. The men with the highest levels of stress had the least ability to tolerate pain.  

The study’s authors say that modern life exposes us to many stressful situations, and while there is no way to predict how much stress we will feel under changing circumstances, it is wise to everything we can, including adopting relaxation and meditation techniques as well as therapy, to reduce the amount of stress in our lives.  

If you constantly feel stressed, there are things you can do to feel better. Write down your worries, so they’re left on the paper and not in your head. If you’re saying “yes” to too many things and feeling overwhelmed as a result, learn to say “no” once in a while. Walking outside in the fresh air or listening to your favorite music can also release stress. If none of these are helping, you may want to hire the services of a therapist to talk about the causes of your stress and work on solutions.

Don’t let stress control your life and make you sick. Take action today and make some positive changes in your life to reduce your stress levels.

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