Mental Tricks To Lessen Back Pain and Reduce Stress at Work

March 19, 2019

Woman soothing her back pain while she is working.
Vicki Shanta Retelny, RDN

Stress at work can sometimes trigger back pain, which can lead to missed work days and lower productivity. How to reduce stress at work is a common workplace conundrum. Mindfulness may help reduce stress at work: By recalibrating how you think and move at work, you can alleviate back pain and reduce stress at work. Mindful-based stress reduction in the workplace has been shown to help reduce stress by improving social relationships, resiliency and task performance. Here are some ways reshape your thinking and feel better at work, at least temporarily.

Focus on Breathing Slowly

Every breath you take is an opportunity to focus. Breathing in and out slowly can alleviate stress. Taking deep breaths from your belly (and not your chest) can relax your whole body, including your neck, back and spine. You can sit in your work chair with your shoulders back and practice breathing deeply. If you have a standing desk, you can stand up with your feet planted shoulder width apart, and inhale and exhale slowly. Close your eyes and visualize a peaceful picture in your mind, breathe in and out through your nose: You can even say a mantra to yourself to release the stress and tension in your back when you breathe out. Practice this multiple times throughout the day for quick stress relief.

Mindfulness Meditation

Imagine being in pain and instead of fighting the sensations you focus on them. That's what mindfulness meditation does — it's a self-facilitated pain therapy that can lessen pain by acknowledging distracting thoughts and feelings, and letting go of sensory events without judgment. Mindfulness meditation can sometimes be more effective than medication at alleviating pain as it alters the structure of the brain to sense pain differently and dismiss it as a temporary, fleeting moment in time.

An eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program is seen as a highly effective approach at regulating emotions and could help how you perceive chronic pain in your back. If you want assistance with meditation, technology can come in hand with free meditation apps that you can take with you anywhere.

Listen to Music

Music can have a therapeutic effect and help diminish pain. The beauty of music is that it is non-invasive, inexpensive and typically emotes a positive experience. Research reveals that music reduced chronic pain and depressive symptoms, especially when people choose their own music. The notion that music has a healing effect on the mind and body is well documented — and research acknowledges that music offers a whole host of benefits, including lowering levels of stress hormones (like cortisol).

Breathing, mindfulness and music are all simple yet highly effective ways to reduce stress, manage pain (especially if you suffer from chronic back pain) and help you go about your day, both in and out of the office.

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