If you’re asking, “Can stress make your neck stiff?” it’s likely that you’re both stressed out and have a stiff neck.
The truth is that there are many things that can cause a stiff neck. For instance, stiffness in the neck can be caused by an injury, sleeping in the wrong position, or long-term health problems.
It might not be easy to say for sure if stress can make your neck stiff. In other words, it might not be as easy as a simple yes or no. Read on to find out more about why this is the case.
You’ll also learn what stress is, why we feel it, how to get rid of it, how to ease the pain of a stiff neck, and more.
- What Exactly is Stress?
- The Link Between Stress and Neck Stiffness
- How to Reduce Stress
- How to Reduce Neck Stiffness
What Exactly is Stress?
Even though a lot of us deal with stress every day, we might not know what it is.
“Stress is the body’s response to any change that needs an adjustment or response,” says the Cleveland Clinic. The body responds to these changes in ways that are both physical and mental and emotional. Stress is an everyday thing. Your environment, your body, and your thoughts can all cause stress. Even good things like getting a new job, buying a house, or having a child can cause stress.
The human body is made to deal with stress, and some types of stress can even be good for you. However, the chronic unhealthy stress that comes with stiffness and movement of the neck can cause a lot of problems.
This is because our ancestors used the stress response to keep us safe and alert when things were dangerous. Our stress response was what let us know, for example, that a snake was dangerous and help us decide whether to fight or run away.
In the modern world, our stress response is triggered for longer periods of time than it was meant to be. This is causing both long-term and short-term health problems, like headaches, upset stomach, high blood pressure, chest pain, trouble sleeping, stress and anxiety, and emotional problems.
You should keep in mind that not all stress is bad. In fact, when you go to the gym to work out, you put your body under a certain kind of stress that makes it gain muscle as a response.
Most people think of this as good stress, but if you were in the gym all the time, your body would get weak, hurt, and sick.
People often call good stress “eustress,” which starts with the same “eu” as the word “euphoria.” Even though people often use the word “stress” to talk about bad or unhealthy stress, the correct term is “distress.”
The Link Between Stress and Neck Stiffness
Most of us have had a headache because of an emotion, stress, or anxiety, or we know someone who has. In fact, this kind of headache is called a tension headache.
People get tension headaches when they tense up the muscles in their neck. This can cause serious aches and pains, as well as pressure and discomfort in the head and neck, and it can sometimes lead to headaches or migraines.
When someone has a tension headache, they usually also have a lot of tension in their jaw. Also, they might be grinding their teeth.
But there isn’t a clear link between stress and a stiff neck. Robert Gotlin, DO, director of orthopedic and sports rehab at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, says, “Stress is not likely to cause neck pain, but it can definitely make the symptoms of neck pain that is already there worse.”
He then said that stress makes people feel pain more, whether it’s neck pain or something else. This shows that stress isn’t always the cause of chronic neck pain. Instead, the pain is already there, and stress just makes it worse. This is why it’s so important for your health to learn how to deal with stress.
But some sources, like the Mayo Clinic, do say that stress can cause neck pain. It’s pretty clear that stress affects neck pain and stiffness, whether or not it’s the cause or just makes it worse.
In fact, neck tension is often listed as a sign of an anxiety disorder. This shows that there is a strong link between a stiff neck and emotional pain.
With this information, you can lessen your stress and loosen up your neck. In the next part, we’ll talk about how to do this.
How to Reduce Stress
The best way to get rid of stress is to figure out what causes it and stop doing the things that make it happen.
But the truth is that most of the things that cause us the most stress are things we can’t avoid. Work, family, traffic, weekly chores, and other things can all make our necks feel tense and stressed.
But we also have a lot of ways to deal with and lessen stress every day. Here are some ways you can reduce your stress:
Stay positive: Stress usually happens when you have a bad mood, but the problem is that stress can also make you feel even worse. This makes a cycle of stress and bad feelings. Stay positive to break the cycle. You can do this by making a plan for the day or by saying a phrase to yourself over and over. Something like, “I’m happy and optimistic.” If you find that too corny, try writing in a journal about the things you’re grateful for.
Accept the things you can’t control: Most of the time, the things in our lives that stress us out are things we can’t change. Letting these things happen on their own will ease your mind and give you more time and energy to focus on things you can control.
Don’t be passive, but don’t be aggressive: Sometimes our stress comes from not standing up for ourselves. At other times, it’s because we were too angry. Try to find a middle ground where you can stand up for yourself without getting mean. It’s not easy, but you’ll be on the right track if you stay positive and accept the things you can’t change.
Practice relaxation: There are many ways to do this, but the simplest and easiest is to just breathe. You can count 10 breaths with each one. Yoga and tai chi are two other great ways to relax. You could also take a bath, light a scented candle, or read in your fuzzy socks. Just make sure you do things regularly that make you feel good.
Exercise: Moving around every day will help you feel less stressed and, as a bonus, can loosen up a stiff neck. You can do many different kinds of exercises, but the most important thing is to pick one that you enjoy. If something is fun, you are more likely to do it. You can run, sprint, lift weights, swim, play team sports, or do something exciting like rock climbing. Just make sure to move your joints and muscles often.
How maintaining Healthy lifestyle can help in relieving stress?
Eat Healthily: Eating well will reduce your stress, both emotional stress and the stress of your organs and body trying to get rid of toxins. Most health experts say that you should eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. Also, don’t forget to drink water all day long. Dehydration is a common reason why muscles get stiff.
Get plenty of sleep: Many things can go wrong when you don’t get enough sleep, but stress is a common one. The problem is that too much stress can make it hard to fall asleep. Setting times to go to bed and wake up every day is a great way to make sure you get enough sleep. A relaxing routine before bed will help you unwind and make it easier for you to fall asleep quickly.
Engage in meaningful relationships: When you’re feeling stressed, it can be easy to just stay at home by yourself. But being with people who are important to you can help you relax. Not only will friends help you see the bigger picture, but laughing and smiling will help you forget about the worries you’ve been carrying around.
Limit screen time: Electronics are extremely useful. They can also make our bodies feel stressed. Make sure to limit how much time you spend in front of the screen, or at least turn off your email notifications. You deserve it.
Manage your time: Many people could avoid a lot of stress if they were better at managing their time. For some people, this might mean getting a better balance between work and life. For others, it might mean making a schedule to make sure they have time to pursue their hobbies and creative interests.
How to Reduce Neck Stiffness
Aside from being able to deal with stress, it’s helpful to know how to get rid of a stiff neck quickly and easily. Some of these will not only help you feel better, but they will also help you avoid getting neck stiffness again in the future.
Getting a massage from a trained professional can help you in many ways. Not only will it make you feel less stressed, but it will also improve your circulation and help your stiff and sore muscles feel better.
There are many kinds of massages, and they all work in different ways. But their main effect is to relieve muscle tension.
Different types of massages tend to be liked by different people. For example, a Swedish massage is good for people who like gentle, broad strokes. Most likely, you’ll get this kind of massage at a spa or wellness center.
A deep tissue massage is good for people who want a firm, deep massage. In a deep tissue massage, the therapist will apply firm pressure to the knots and trigger points that are causing tension in the deepest layers of your neck’s muscles and soft tissue.
This can help with injuries or long-term problems like muscle imbalances.
You can try aromatherapy massage if you have stress. The therapist will use essential oils to make scents that make you feel calm. Maybe now is the right time to treat yourself to a day at the spa.
Heat or ice can help a stiff or sore neck feel better. Even though they work in different ways, both can help ease your pain and make you feel better right away.
The best time to use ice is right after a serious injury. When used during this time, ice can help reduce swelling and pain and limit the damage and death of soft tissues. Ice should be put on for 20 minutes at a time, with an hour break in between.
Heat, on the other hand, is great for a stiff neck that doesn’t go away or for an injury that needs to heal. Heat makes the muscles loosen up and makes it easier for the blood to flow. You can get a massage and a heat treatment at the same time by getting a hot stone massage. In this type of massage, you make use of heated stones on the body.
With a plug-in heating pad, you can put heat on your neck at home.
Cervical traction is both a very effective way to treat stiffness in the neck and a way to keep it from happening. Most of the time, cervical traction is done with a device called a cervical traction device. This device gently pulls the head up.
This causes the head to be lifted gently off the neck. This makes the spine wider and less compressed, which improves blood flow, stops muscle imbalances and other long-term problems, and eases neck stiffness.
Cervical traction is known to be very effective and work quickly. This makes it a great choice whether your neck stiffness is sudden and temporary or caused by long-term issues like stress.
Cervical traction can be used to help heal neck injuries like a herniated disc, as well as to relax a stiff neck. Cervical traction can also help with muscle spasms or pain from a pinched nerve. It can also improve your posture and the health of your neck as a whole.
In fact, one study found that cervical traction “significantly decreased neck pain right after treatment” and also reduced chronic pain for a while after treatment.
Cervical traction is also a good way to relax and unwind after a long, stressful day.
The Neck Hammock is a cervical traction device that is made to be as comfortable and effective as possible. Pick it up today to get rid of neck pain and stress for good.