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Don’t Add Pain to Stress and Anxiety

Stress, and its close cousin, anxiety, are all-too-common in modern life. Our bodies are made to react to a stressor, such as a saber-toothed tiger, by releasing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol to help us run faster, make quicker decisions, and get a burst of energy. We are not designed to be under constant stress, but that is the situation too many people find themselves facing every day.

Stress and anxiety can cause a lot of health issues, including joint pain and fibromyalgia. Here at Nually, our goal to be a resource for health needs related to pain and conditions we deal with daily. 

Stress and Anxiety: Overview

Stress is your body’s response to a stressor, such as any change in your daily environment or routine that demands you to respond or adapt. Common stressors include:

  • Work demands and deadlines
  • Mishaps such as a flat tire or the wrong order
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Life changes such as getting married, moving, having a baby, or starting a new job
  • Grief
  • Illness or injury of your own, or helping a loved one with an illness or injury

Stress is typically situational, and once the stressor is resolved, your body’s stress goes away. However, sometimes, we have a string of situational stressors that happen simultaneously or in succession. That can lead to chronic stress, where your body cannot reset between stressors. It can also contribute to developing an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders can arise from environmental stress and also caused by genetic disposition, medications, and previous trauma and stressors. Anxiety often manifests as a fear of encountering the stressors or trauma and can have severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, insomnia, irregular heartbeat, and joint and muscle pain. 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 40 million Americans ages 18 and older have an anxiety disorder. That’s almost 20 percent of the population. If you’re experiencing chronic stress and anxiety, you’re not alone. There are many ways to treat it, though, ranging from lifestyle changes to natural remedies to medications. 

Stress and Anxiety: Diagnosis

Stress and situational anxiety are often self-diagnosed rather than by a doctor. When they persist, doctors can help you rule out underlying medication conditions and help you understand what is going on with your health.

Stress and anxiety can produce symptoms such as:
  • Muscle aches and tension
  • Headaches, lightheadedness, dizziness, tingling on the top of your head
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Racing heart rate
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Difficulty eating or sleeping
  • Stomach ache or diarrhea 
  • Fatigue, exhaustion
  • Acid reflux/indigestion
  • Sexual problems

Anxiety can also cause:

  • Irrational anger
  • Restlessness
  • Feelings of paranoia or impending doom
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Panic or extreme phobias
To diagnose a stress or anxiety disorder, your doctor will likely:
  • Ask questions about your health history, including any family members with anxiety or stress;
  • Take your blood pressure and order bloodwork to check hormone levels and rule out other causes;
  • Do a physical exam and analyze your medications;
  • Give you a psychological questionnaire and use the DSM-V to analyze symptoms.

Your doctor will then work with you to develop a treatment plan to relieve your symptoms and get you on the road to health.

Stress and Anxiety: Treatment

There are many ways to treat stress and anxiety, ranging from things you can do yourself to prescription medications and psychotherapy. Often, you will use a combined approach to relieve your various symptoms and help keep them under control.


Also known as counseling or talk therapy, you will have sessions with a trained and licensed mental health professional. Through cognitive behavioral therapy and other strategies, they will help you recognize your feelings, redirect your anxious thoughts, and manage your emotions to lower your stress.


Your doctor may prescribe one or more medications to help lower your stress and manage your anxiety. These may include:

  • Antidepressants to help balance chemicals such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in your brain. They are generally taken every day for a long period of recovery. Some people stay on the medications for many years or even a lifetime.
  • Sedatives are used when you are having an acute attack and need to manage symptoms quickly. They are also often used to help you wind down, fall asleep, and stay asleep. 


Exercise is an excellent way to relieve mental stress and anxiety. Physical exertion lowers your body’s levels of cortisol -- the stress hormone -- and releases ‘feel-good’ hormones called endorphins into your system. Endorphins lower pain levels, so your muscle aches and headaches associated with stress also get some relief. Exercise helps you to sweat, which allows your body to release toxins through the skin. 

Essential Oils

Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants which contain the ‘essence’ of that plant. They are typically used in aromatherapy and can be inhaled or applied to the skin. You can inhale essential oils by putting them in a diffuser, your bath, or burning an infused candle. 

Some conventional essential oils to relieve stress and anxiety are:

  • Lavender
  • Sandalwood
  • Bergamot
  • Rose
  • Chamomile
  • Jasmine
  • Orange/orange blossom
  • Geranium

Inhaling or absorbing essential oils affects your body’s limbic system, which helps control breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion.

Diet & Supplements

Certain dietary supplements assist in reducing stress and anxiety. These include:

  • Kava kava
  • Valerian
  • Ashwagandha
  • Lemon balm
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Magnesium

These dietary supplements are usually taken as capsules. You can also find under-the-tongue tinctures such as Ultimate Fields and Rescue Relief to help lower stress and anxiety.

Spending Time With Friends & Loved Ones (& laughter)

Let’s face it, laughing and feeling loved and accepted are great medicines. When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, hanging out with friends or doing something fun together may be just what the doctor ordered. Cuddling is also a great stress reliever, as human touch is soothing and helps promote deep breathing and calming.


Practicing techniques such as deep breathing, relaxation, meditation, and yoga are also great stress relievers. Sometimes we have to schedule a dedicated time just to be still and breathe.

Final Thoughts

If you’re experiencing chronic stress and anxiety, there are tactics you can use to feel better.