Allis National Stress Awareness Month. Earlier this month on our Foot Doctor Blog, we featured how stress impacts the entire body and gave ways to combat stress. Being specialists in foot and ankle health, this article will specifically detail how stress impacts the feet. Stressed Feet Stress affects all of us in many ways: it can heighten our level of excitement and it can weigh us down and even make us sick. Physical stress can take its toll on our feet in the form of excessive wear and tear of the nails and skin and show up as overuse injuries like tendinitis or bone stress fractures. Excessive emotional stress or anxiety can have more subtle symptoms and be felt all the way to our toes. Many people may endure restlessness of the legs that disturbs their sleep or tensing of muscles that may adversely affect their gait. An anxiety attack involving hyperventilation and a sudden release of adrenaline in the body moves blood away from your feet and may produce uncomfortable burning and numbness, cold feet and even hyperhidrosis (sweating). The mind-body connection is powerful and must be considered when dealing with all injuries and illnesses. Being over-stressed results in perceived hypersensitivity and more painful symptoms that would normally not elicit such a response. Negative stress can negatively affect treatment outcomes, resulting in poor compliance, more discomfort, delays in healing, and a higher rate of complications. Stress cannot be ignored. As podiatric physicians, we evaluate and consider the entire person, not only focusing on their foot problem in order to enjoy optimal results.
- Exercise: Research has shown that just 30 minutes a day of cardiovascular exercise can help boost mood, reduce cortisol levels, and improve clarity and focus.
- Diet: Eat a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein, and omega-3 fatty acids to reduce cortisone levels and boost the immune system and lower heart disease.
- Sleep More: Sleep allows our brain to re-charge, repair muscle, and improve memory. Adults who get at least 8 hours of sleep at night are more likely to have improved memory, energy, and motivation during the day to manage daily stresses.
- Relax and Connect: Practice yoga, meditation, and deep breathing to boost levels of joy, serenity, and calm. Ask for help from family, friends, community groups, or religious organizations to provide emotional and other support.
- Talk to Your Doctor: If stress is creating health issues, address them early on with a medical practitioner. Intervention can include prescription medication, nutritional support, counseling, and support groups.