Muscle tension, headache, stiffness…sounds like it’s time for a massage, right? A massage can be very helpful to alleviate muscle tension, but not if its root cause lies in anxiety. Read on to learn about how anxiety relates to muscle cramps and soreness, and how to treat both.
Anxiety comes with a whole host of negative effects on the body, some that seem to have no relation to the original problem. Anxiety can cause the muscles in your body to be contracted in a constant state of tension, which leads to pain and stiffness. Remember though, the real source of the problem may not be the muscle pain, it’s the anxiety and it needs to be treated.
How Can I Treat the Muscle Tension in the Mean Time?
If your muscle pain is severe, you can try taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, and try soaking in a hot bath to soothe your muscles. Listen to relaxing music and dim the lights, and take a few hours for yourself if you can. You can also visit a massage therapist who can identify and treat the “trigger points,” or areas in your muscles that are constricted and causing you pain. For sheer relaxation, you can choose a Swedish massage, but for pain that is more severe, a deep tissue massage is needed to do the trick. Just remember that a deep tissue massage may make you sore the next day, but it’s perfectly normal.
Acupuncture and yoga are two other therapies you should consider to deal with chronic tension, as they’ve both been shown to be beneficial.
Getting to the Root of the Problem-How Do I Treat My Anxiety?
Relaxation techniques, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation can pay dividends when it comes to treating anxiety. Deep breathing is a commonly use relaxation technique and is very helpful for anxiety sufferers. To reap the benefits of this technique, begin by taking in a deep breath from your diaphragm and counting to five. Then hold your breath and count to five, and then slowly release. Continue doing this until you begin to relax. Progressive muscle relaxation works in a similar fashion and involves deliberately tensing and relaxing your muscles so you can feel the difference between them and allow yourself to truly relax. Meditation and visualization will also give you an opportunity to “step outside” your anxiety and focus on calming your mind.
Exercise is also very important in stemming the tide of anxiety, and you should try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity into your schedule every day. This type of activity can include walking, running or riding a bike.
Nutrition is also a very important factor in overcoming anxiety, and people who suffer from anxiety should, by all means, avoid or limit their intake of caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant drug and is notorious for increasing anxiety symptoms. Remember to eat a balanced diet and a good night’s rest as well.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. 20 October 2012. www.adaa.org