Chiropractic and Stress Management

April is Stress Awareness Month

Stress Awareness Month has been held every April, since 1992.

During this annual thirty day period, health care professionals massage therapists, and other health experts across the country join forces to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic.

We all feel it these days… The news on the economy gets worse daily. We all know someone who has lost their job, or is about to. Prices at the supermarket seem higher than ever. The winter is dragging on and on has driven many to the brink of temporary insanity.

At the end of the day when your shoulders are up near your ears, you feel that knot in your stomach and that ache in your back or neck, you know what it is- STRESS!

Overwhelmed with stress

Stress happens. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, at times it’s unbearable. Stress is a normal emotional response to the demands of life. Everyone experiences it, and the results vary in intensity from being in a cranky mood to more complicated illnesses.

Stress does not merely afflict your mind; it can also affect you on a cellular level. In fact, long-term stress can lead to a wide range of illnesses – from headaches to stomach disorders to depression – and can even increase the risk of serious health conditions like stroke and heart disease. Understanding the mind/stress/health connection can help you better manage stress and improve your health and well-being.

The Fight or Flight Response

Yikes!

The fight-or-flight response (also called the fight-or-flight-or-freeze response, hyperarousal, or the acute stress response) is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. This response is recognized as the first stage of a general adaptation syndrome that regulates stress responses.

The sympathetic stress response is a survival mechanism that’s “hard wired” into our nervous systems. This automatic response is necessary for mobilizing quick reflexes when there is imminent danger, such as swerving to avoid a car crash.

Danger triggers the stress response – but, unfortunately, so can work conflicts, worry over debt, bad memories, or anxiety.

When you perceive a threat, stress hormones rush into your bloodstream—increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose levels. Although one bad day at work won’t compromise your health, weeks or months of prolonged stress can result in chronic suppression of the immune system, leaving the body more vulnerable to illness.

Thus, very often, those under severe, prolonged stress may contract diseases related to immune deficiency and may even die of these diseases. The death does not come from stress itself. What happens is that the body loses all its resistance in its effort to ward off the stress. Thus the persons die of immune deficiency causes such as infection, cancer etc. So, it is very important that we recognize the cause for stresses and remove the causes to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Negative Effects of the Stress Response

The stress response temporarily suppresses various biological processes including: sexual responses and digestive mechanisms. This is in an effort to focus on the stressor situation. While the fight or flight response is an adaptive reaction, prolonged increases in stress can cause a variety of negative physiological and psychological negative effects, including:

Physiological effects

  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension and pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Upset stomach
  • Problems with sleeping

Psychological effects

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Irritability or anger
  • Depression

Behavioral effects

  • Overeating or undereating
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Social withdrawal

Reduce Your Stress

If you suffer from chronic stress and can’t influence or change the situation, then you’ll need to change your approach. Be willing to be flexible. Remember, you have the ability to choose your response to stressors, and you may have to try various options.

* Recognize when you don’t have control, and let it go.
* Don’t get anxious about situations that you cannot change.
* Take control of your own reactions, and focus on what makes you feel calm and in control. This may take some practice, but it pays off in peace of mind.
* Develop a vision for healthy living, wellness, and personal- professional growth and set realistic goals to help you realize your vision.

Relax, Recharge & Unwind

Be sure to make time for fun and relaxation so you’ll be better able to handle life’s stressors. Carve some time out of your day – even 10 to 15 minutes – to take care of yourself. Also, remember that exercise is one of the best stress relievers of all! Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries.

Everyone has different ways they like to relax and unwind. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Take a walk
  • Read a book
  • Go for a run
  • Have a cup of tea
  • Play a sport
  • Spend time with a friend or loved one
  • Meditate
  • Try a yoga class
  • Laugh – Being happy has always seemed like a good idea. Now researchers have shown that even anticipating a laugh helps reduce stress.
  • Do things you enjoy
  • Make time for fun
  • Take time to be alone… DOING NOTHING!

Learn To Adapt and Adjust!

We need to learn two tenets in an ever-changing world to wrestle this monster to the ground. Adapt and adjust!

If you can change certain key choices about your diet, how you handle stress, your physical activity, you can literally flip the switch to support and protect your health.

While you can’t avoid stress, you can minimize it by changing how you choose to respond to it. The ultimate reward for your efforts is a healthy, balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun.

What a Chiropractor may be able to do is help you better ADAPT to the stress around you and help reduce the effect the potential physical damage on your body.

Massage Therapy & Stress

They can give you options with proven benefits, such as spinal manipulation or massage therapy.  Message Therapy it is a valuable adjunctive therapy to chiropractic care for stress-related tension, which, experts believe, accounts for 80%-90% of disease.

Massage Therapy addresses a variety of other health conditions, including arthritis, lower back pain, insomnia, headaches, cancer-related fatigue, sleep disorders, high blood pressure, diabetes,  sciatica, TMJ, carpal tunnel, post-operative surgery, age-related disorders, infertility, eating disorders, smoking cessation, depression, anxiety, circulatory problems, and recovery from a sports injury, just to name a few.