Living with pain, an injury or reduced mobility can easily lead to additional stress and anxiety.
When you are stressed your body produces a hormone that can increase your feeling of pain.
Stress is when your emotional pressure builds up and you feel unable to cope, worried, fearful or anxious.
It’s important that you recognise when you are stressed and take steps to look after your mind as well as your body. It plays an essential part in your overall wellbeing and can help you to feel better faster.
Take our stress test:
- Are you worrying a lot about the future or your health?
- Have you been finding it hard to sleep?
- Has it been harder for you to concentrate recently?
- Are you feeling tired or exhausted all of the time?
- Have you been eating too much or too little?
- Do you feel extra tense or are you experiencing headaches?
- Have you been snapping more at the people around you?
- Have you been feeling very unhappy and crying often?
- Are you drinking or smoking more than usual?
- Have you been finding it hard to laugh or enjoy yourself lately?
- Are you finding it harder than usual to make decisions?
If you answered yes to three or more of the above questions, then you are experiencing some level of stress or anxiety. Follow our 10 tips for managing stress below:
1. Make time to feel good
Make time for fun and relaxation. Try to do something that you can enjoy within your limitations each day.
This could be as simple as having a friend visit you or taking a bath with some scented candles, whatever works for you.
If you are struggling with your mobility then there are still plenty of activities that you can complete sitting down, such as painting or playing a musical instrument.
2. Don’t let bad days get you down
Remember that living with pain, injury or reduced mobility will mean that you have good days and bad days. Don’t let one bad day set you back mentally and emotionally.
It can be really hard, but it’s important that you stay optimistic and recognise that your pain will get better.
People who manage to stay positive despite their pain tend to recover from injury and flare ups faster.
3. Move as much as you can
Moving around and being physically active helps to release endorphins and feel good hormones.
Do whatever you can to stay active throughout the day and within your comfort limits.
Gentle exercise like swimming, walking during your lunch hour or yoga can be a great place to start following an injury or if you are living with a long term condition.
See our returning to exercise following an injury page for further advice.
4. Accept the things that you cannot change
This is a hard one, but accepting that there are things in life that you cannot control or change will help you to let go and stress less about your health.
If you are missing out on a big sports match due to injury, try to accept that there is nothing you can do about it and focus your energy on something positive, like getting back to your best for next year.
5. Be positive about the things that you can change
Focus on the future and the things that you can change.
Put your energy into looking after yourself and following any guidance that your physiotherapist or GP may have given you.
6. Reduce tension
If you’ve had a stressful day then this exercise can help you to release tension:
1. When you go to bed, lie comfortably on your back and place a pillow under your knees if you find this makes you more comfortable.
2. Tense each body part for 3-5 seconds by contracting the muscle, then let go all at once and relax.
3. Work through the muscles in your body one at a time, starting with your toes and moving up your body, to your feet, calves, legs etc.
4. Try repeating this throughout the body for a few minutes, before relaxing completely and letting yourself drift off.
7. Take control of worries
If you have problems winding down in the evenings and worry a lot, then it could be time to address some of the triggers. For example, many people worry about money and relationships.
There are plenty of charities and free support services out there that can help you:
8. Build positive relationships
When you are stressed and feeling low it can have an impact on your relationships and many people withdraw from socialising.
Try to maintain positive relationships with those around you, by managing your stress and talking to them about how you feel. Don’t shy away from social events or opportunities for you to connect with others.
9. Cut back on alcohol and cigarettes
When you are feeling low it’s easy to lose control of what you eat and consume, but this is a cycle that can prevent you from getting better.
Quitting or cutting back on smoking can dramatically improve your physical health and can improve the quality of your day to day life.
Alcohol-free days can also help you to sleep better and mean that you have more energy, which can help you to feel better mentally and physically.
See our eating and living well page for more advice.
10. Talk to someone
If your stress or anxiety is preventing you from moving forward and living a normal life, then it could be time to talk to someone about your overall wellbeing and happiness.
1 in 4 people in the UK experience some form of mental illness in their life and there is no shame in seeking extra support if you need it.
The below organisations all offer free guidance and support services:
Big White Wall – Join a safe an anonymous peer support community.
The Samaritans – Support for anyone who needs help – a safe way to talk, anytime, anyplace.
Mind – Leading mental health charity, with advice and support services.
Your GP can also offer you specialist guidance about face to face services and other forms of support that could help you.