In today’s world, it’s easy to find things to stress about. Pressure on the job, money difficulties, health crises, relationship troubles, media overload and many other environmental factors can weigh on us. We also generate stress internally, with poor nutrition and sleep deprivation. Every chiropractor sees patients who’ve been ravaged by chronic stress. More than three-fourths of Americans regularly endure its physical symptoms, and one-third characterize their stress levels as “extreme.” Whether emotional or environmental, stress causes damage. It interferes with the professional and personal lives of nearly half our population, and its impact on the body can lead to long-term problems such as spinal misalignment. Stress plays a role in so many modern diseases that some experts estimate it accounts for half the nation’s healthcare-related expenses, says U.S. News & World Report.
First, it’s important to understand how the body reacts to stress. There are three basic “channels” through which we perceive stress: environment, body, and emotions. Environmental stress is rather self-explanatory; let’s say you are walking down a quiet road and you hear a loud bang nearby, similar to an explosion. That is an environmental stressor. Pollution would be another example of environmental stress.
Stress through the body includes illness, lack of sleep or poor nutrition. Emotional stress is slightly different, as it encompasses how we interpret certain things. For example, if someone you work with is being passive-aggressive, you may choose to become stressed — “is he/she mad at me for some reason?” — or you may choose to brush it off — “they must be having a rough morning.” What’s unique about emotional stress is that we have control over how much of it we experience, much more so than environmental or body stressors. Now that we understand how stress is received, we can discuss what effects it has on our health. When under stress, the body’s fight or flight response is triggered. Your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is stimulated, which means your heart beats faster and your senses become acute. This is a leftover defense mechanism from prehistoric times; that is the reason we survived to today instead of all becoming lunch for hungry predators out in the wild.
However, the danger is that in modern society, we can become overstressed. Over the years many studies have been conducted to assess the impact of chronic stress on the body, with such consequences as high blood pressure, increased risk for heart disease, damage to muscle tissue, and more. While stress can be beneficial in certain high-performance situations, experiencing it constantly will leave you significantly worse for wear. Luckily, chiropractic care can help you manage your stress. After all, chiropractic focuses on the spine, which is the root of the nervous system. One of the effects of chronic stress is muscle tension and contraction, which can lead to uneven pressure on the skeleton, which in turn leads to subluxations.
Adjustments help ease muscle tension, which in turn eases the stress on certain parts of the skeleton and helps ease subluxations. Easing these subluxations — therefore achieving a balanced spine — is a crucial element of managing personal stress. As mentioned earlier, nutrition is also a crucial component of stress management, which is why we offer a wide range of supplements and workshops to empower the 100% family and help you to manage stress. If you feel as though the daily stress in your life is getting to be too high, consider visiting us so we can assess what the best option will be for you!