2019 Best Practices to Help Reduce Stress and Overcome Chronic Pain

The start of a new year can be an exciting and challenging time. For many, this is a time of year to begin focusing more on goals – personally and professionally. This is also a time of year in which many people begin implementing healthier lifestyle habits to reduce stress and prevent or overcome chronic pain.

Since I’ve written a lot on the topics of stress and chronic pain in 2018, I figured I’d do a quick recap featuring some of my most popular articles on these subjects. These can be used as a valuable resource guide to help you get an excellent jump start to a healthier you in 2019.

Let’s dive in by dissecting stress.

Did you know that 75% of all physician visits are stress related?

Whether its money, work, family responsibilities, or health concerns, many Americans suffer from moderate to high stress. And if stress is left untreated, then this can lead to some serious chronic issues down the road.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Lung ailments
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Suicide
  • Accidents

How can you go about reducing or eliminating harmful stress in your life?

First, let’s talk about what to cut back on or avoid.

Self-medicating and incorporating unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as smoking, overloading on caffeine, emotional eating, and substance abuse from alcohol or drugs should be avoided. While these may provide temporary relief from stress, ultimately, these unhealthy lifestyle choices can create severe long-term health issues linked to the six leading causes of death mentioned earlier.

The best thing you can do to help you with overcoming stress is to tackle the problem(s) you are facing head-on, and seek help where needed – don’t go at this alone.

For instance, if you are stressed over financial woes, then work on a solution to climb your way out. Seeking the help of a trusted advisor can help you in this process.

Same goes for stress over family and health-related concerns. There are tons of support groups out there in which people of all walks of life are dealing with similar issues you may be dealing with.

Joining and participating in a support group can also help you build life-long friendships with people seeking to improve their lives. They can also work wonders to help hold you accountable to make positive changes in your life.

Below are a few links to valuable online resources to find local support groups in your area:

Meetup.com -> https://www.meetup.com/topics/support-group/ is a great place to find and join groups for free.

Mental Health America -> http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/find-support-groups is also a great resource. Here you can find all sorts of support groups and resource guides in alphabetic order.

Healthfinder.gov -> https://healthfinder.gov/FindServices/SearchContext.aspx?topic=833. This hub was created by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and can also serve as a great free resource to find, join, and participate in a support group.

Now in terms of what to incorporate more of in your life (what not to avoid), I have written a ton on this topic as well. Below are some highlights from previous articles, which can also help you reduce and eliminate stress so you can live and be healthier.

First, let’s talk about nutrition and a healthier gut.

As mentioned earlier, it is easy to incorporate emotional eating habits when dealing with stress, and often these food choices are extremely unhealthy. And to make matters worse, these food choices can lead to chronic pain disorders and diseases down the road, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, lung disease, arthritis, and more.

What type of food choices should you incorporate more of into your diet?

To simplify this, think of foods as being either inflammatory or anti-inflammatory. Here is a link to a recent article in which I broke down common inflammatory foods to avoid, along with anti-inflammatory foods to incorporate more of. Use this as a reference guide to help you incorporate better food choices into your diet in 2019 and beyond.


In conjunction with proper nutrition, incorporating yoga to help deal with your stress can also work wonders. Yoga and physical therapy is also an excellent combination to incorporate more of if you are dealing with stress that has led to a chronic pain disorder.

Yoga should be considered as complementary to physical therapy as it can help with the treatment of stress, anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. It can also help with creating a greater sense of well-being, increased feelings of relaxation, improving your strength, self-confidence and body image.

Essential Oils

I wrote an article in October dissecting essential oils and their use to help aid in improving overall wellness. Essential oils have been around for thousands of years, and there are many well-known health benefits that can come out of their use, including the reduction of stress and anxiety.

In the article, I broke down what these benefits are, along with some of the more popular oils to use to help in improving your overall wellness. I also referenced which oils to avoid (unfortunately, there are a lot of synthetics out there which can actually be harmful to you).

Manual Physical Therapy

I work with patients to help them overcome stress and chronic pain disorders through the use of hands-on manual therapy for health and wellness. Incorporating healthier lifestyle choices mentioned above, of course, plays a huge role in this recovery process.

One form of therapy I do provide to help reduce and eliminate harmful stress is Cranial Sacral Therapy (CST). This is a type of manual therapy that is designed to release facial restrictions in the body that help to eliminate stress, strengthen resistance to disease and improve overall health.

CST is non-invasive, and it involves bodywork that relieves compression through gentle manipulation of the bones in your skull, spine, and pelvis, which allows your cerebrospinal fluid in the central nervous system to become normalized.

For patients who have stress which has led to chronic pain disorders, I do also many other forms of alternative treatments using manual physical therapy to help aid in the recovery process. These treatments can range from visceral manipulation therapy, neural manipulation, soft tissue mobilization, and joint mobilization.

Together let’s make 2019 your best year yet health wise. If you are dealing with stress or chronic pain, then begin using these healthier lifestyle tips along with hands-on manual physical therapy to help you live and be the best version of you!


Marge Kalfon, MSPT, is the founder of PT by Marge and is a licensed physical therapist in Virginia. She graduated with her Masters of Science in Physical Therapy from Thomas Jefferson University in 1996. Since then, she has practiced in a wide variety of settings ranging from large hospitals to small private practices. She has extensive training and experience with a wide variety of manual therapy techniques as well as orthopedic and neurological rehabilitation.