Now more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the stress of balancing work, life, school, and more from home, all while feeling uncertain about the future, has taken an immeasurable toll.
In addition to causing mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, sustained periods of stress can cause physical damage to the body as well. People who are constantly under stress are more likely to experience high blood pressure, chronic headaches, chest pain, and sleep deprivation.
They’re also more likely to have chronic pain.
“It is generally accepted that there is a link between stress and overall well-being,” said Arielle Milara, product manager for Conair. “All these stressful circumstances can understandably lead to a physical response that can be a contributing factor to body pain.”
In addition to increasing stress levels, the pandemic forced many people to work from improvised home offices. While not having to commute to work was convenient, it also meant not having the ergonomic support that’s customary in modern offices. That left millions sitting with poor posture for entire eight-hour (or longer) work days.
“Whether that was the dining room chair or living room sofa, sitting for long periods of time without the proper support can wreak havoc on the back,” Milara said.
Finding relief with heat therapy
In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated 50 million Americans were living with some form of chronic pain, and that number could rise due to the factors mentioned above. If you’re one of the many people who experience pain on a regular basis, you may benefit from heat therapy.
This type of therapy works by applying heat to a problem area of the body to increase blood circulation, which helps soothe muscles and relieve discomfort. It’s touted as one of the best non-pharmaceutical solutions for relieving both acute and chronic pain.
“For best results, apply heat 20 minutes at a time, sit back, and relax,” Milara said.
If you decide to use a heat pad to relieve pain, avoid applying it for long periods of time, like when you’re sleeping, as this can cause injury and burns. If you’re unsure about the root cause of your pain, consider talking to your doctor before starting heat therapy.