Can Emotional Stress Trigger Shoulder Pain?

Jul 18, 2016

You may not be Atlas. But you feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders – figuratively and literally.


Most of the time, pain manifests itself in a physical way. But in some cases, the underlying problem is emotional. The mind and body work together. How your mind controls your thoughts and attitudes has an effect on how your body and brain controls pain.

How Does Emotional Stress Cause Shoulder Pain?

Your emotions can have a compounding effect. And one of the things they can do is to trigger your shoulder pain.


You hear a lot of people talking about carrying burdens on their shoulders. Sometimes we talk about it as well and this is exactly what is happening. Painful shoulders.


“How much burden should I really need to carry?”


“Am I taking too much responsibility?”


Such questions indeed.


A hectic life or a stressful situation can take a toll on your muscles. Most of the time it manifests in the neck, back, and of course, shoulders. When we feel emotionally distressed, our shoulders tense up, and we can get shoulder pain.


Scientists hypothesise it has something to do with stress and tense muscles or with brain chemicals. According to a 2012 study, stress is associated with the body not being able to regulate the inflammatory response, which could be related to stress pains.


During a stressful event, our nervous system goes into survival mode. Sometimes, it has difficulty returning into its normal, relaxed mode. If your body stays in survival mode, this means there is constant release of cortisol. Your blood pressure and blood sugar increases, reducing the healing ability of your immune system.

Stress-Relieving Strategies

Here are some helpful tips which can obliterate your stress and find the balance for your mind and body:


Eat healthy. If you’re healthy, you can handle stress better. So eating healthy meals is a good defense against stress. Try to make your mealtimes calm and relaxed. But keep in mind that it’s not a good idea to relieve stress by eating a lot. It’s unhealthy to turn to food to comfort yourself when you are stressed. Otherwise, you’ll be overeating and experience guilt.


Soak in a warm bath. Nothing’s peaceful and soothing than taking a nice, warm bath at the end of the day. A warm bath helps relax tensed nerves and muscles. Once you’ve started soaking in a warm tub, you’ll feel insulated from your troubles. How about getting a nice bath bomb, reading a magazine, lighting candles, or using essential oils for your relaxing bath?


Calm your senses. Try deep breathing. It’s easy to learn and can be done anywhere. Deep breathing is a simple yet effective relaxation technique. All you need is a few minutes and a place to stretch out.


Another way to calm your senses is to listen to music. It can have a relaxing effect on your body and soul. Try listening to slow, quiet classical music to ease your stress.


Get a massage. Massage can help relax tight and painful muscles and reduce stress. Ideally, massage techniques are done in a quiet and dimly lit room. Not only you can get relaxed shoulders, you can also get more peaceful thoughts.


Exercise. Whether you’re physically fit or out of shape, exercise can go a long way towards stress management. Exercise improves your general health and sense of well-being. When you are physically active, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. They also aid in improving your sleep, which in turn reduces stress.

Final Thoughts

Emotional state and physical sense are strongly connected. If you ever feel your shoulders getting heavy, try looking on emotions that may be trapped within your body. If you clear out some space inside, you’ll feel lighter. Just follow our tips above and you’ll realise that these simple stress-relievers can do a lot for your shoulder pain as well as other body pains.


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