Another painful reminder how stress increases pain

July 26, 2023

The other day I had a water leak in one of my closets that needed immediate attention. While I was cleaning it up, I reached my arm a certain way that caused me to injure my back, creating pain above and beyond what I normally deal with every day with dystonia. The rest of the day and the following day I was once again reminded how sensitive our bodies are to the even slightest stimuli.

For example, the way that I sat, stood, walked, laid down, breathed, what I thought about, who I spoke to, the things I talked about, what I watched on TV, etc., all had an impact on my back injury that I could very easily notice. More specifically, I could feel various things created more or less muscle tension around the injured area. It was such an incredible reminder for me how stimuli from any kind of source can trigger the body to create tension in muscles, which for people who have a movement disorder like me where muscles are already contracting involuntarily, it can become an absolute nightmare.

In recent years, I have been writing and talking a lot about emotions and stress and the impact they have on our health. Some people argue with me because they don’t like hearing about how we need to think differently about our pain and approach our daily activities differently to try and alleviate pain. Most people would rather fight against it rather than try to work with it. Understandable, but wrong. It is a physiological fact that the way we think impacts the way we feel. Plain and simple.

No matter who you are and what you’re going through, please keep in mind that every single stimuli that you are exposed to, the nervous system has to interpret that information and decide how to respond. In every instance, it will always cause a change in breathing, circulation, and muscle activity. Plenty of other physiological activities occur, but those are the three that I am mentioning to keep this short and to the point.

That point being, please be incredibly mindful of the way that you go about your day if you live with any kind of distress within your body. Every single interaction you have, every single thought you have, every single stimuli you are exposed to, how you sleep, what you eat, the way you think about your pain, the interactions you have a people, etc., will either make the pain worse, make the pain better, or keep the pain exactly as is.

Please slow down, breathe, listen to your body, pay attention to the negative triggers in your surroundings and the impact they have on your pain, and try to be at ease physically and emotionally the best you can. It’s not easy, but the more we put this to practice the easier it becomes and the greater chance we have to feel better.

Tom Seaman is a Certified Professional Life Coach in the area of health and wellness, and the author of 2 books: Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey and Beyond Pain and Suffering: Adapting to Adversity and Life Challenges. He is also a motivational speaker, chronic pain and dystonia awareness advocate, health blogger, volunteer for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as a support group leader, and is a member and volunteer writer for Chronic Illness Bloggers NetworkThe Mighty, Brain & Life Magazine, and Patient Worthy. To learn more about Tom, get a copy of his books (also on Amazon), or schedule a free life coaching consult, visit Follow him on Twitter @Dystoniabook1 and Instagram.


2 responses to “Another painful reminder how stress increases pain”

  1. Lynne w Yurgel says:

    Hello Tom: Thank for the very helpful and insightful writing. as usual came at a time when I needed the reminder. Thank you once again. Lynne

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