By Lance Gard DC
Stress is one of my favorite topics to tackle. We all know and understand what it means, but few of us can explain it without using the cause of stress as an example. When your body fails to adapt to external stress, you die.
I know that’s a dramatic opening, but the world can be stressful and stress tends to compound. The more stressed you are the more susceptible to stressors you become. You must learn to help your body manage stress, it is literally vital to your survival. Stress can make you better or break you down.
Physical, Chemical and Emotional stressors surround us at all times. They aren’t going away. Going against them, or ignoring them is like fighting Mother Nature, she will always win, so will stress…if you let it.
Physical stress. Poor posture creates stress on your spine, muscles and nervous system that over time will cause premature degenerative changes and leave your body less healthy in general.(bad stress). Exercise creates a controlled and purposeful amount of stress just enough to cause your body to respond and improve a little bit each time. You can stress your muscles with weight lifting and your body responds by repairing them and making them slightly bigger. Now the next time you experience that same stress you’ll suffer less breakdown. The same is true with running for cardiovascular health. You are training your body to be a little bit more efficient at delivering oxygen each time. As you push the limit you advance your ability to do better the next time. Go farther, faster; or lift heavier, or climb higher. Your training applies a controlled level of physical stress. From there, your body takes over and heals what you’ve broken down, but it heals it stronger than before, because last time it broke down. (good stress)
Chemical stress. Environmental toxin exposure. Everything from breathing toxins while sitting in traffic, to dirty /stale office air; or smoking cigarettes. You can also get unwanted chemical stress from the water you drink, or foods you eat. Anything that when introduced to your body will disrupt natural homeostasis, in other words- your body has a natural, universal, innate ability to self regulate and heal…unless a stress is placed in the way and blocks your body’s natural balance and ability to fully express health. Any chemical stressors introduced must be ‘flushed’ out, or eliminated in some way before the body can go back to its focused attention on maximizing health expression.
Emotional stress. Our entire body is involved in an emotional response. We first feel it within ourselves then these emotions/feelings are processed inside our brain where we name them. We name the feeling based on our previous experiences and what we’ve been taught those feelings mean. Emotions are meant to help us interpret our environment and keep us safe, or to help foster connection, which historically has helped to keep us safe. Emotions have a tendency to skyrocket our spirit, or plummet our psyche. Each one carrying with it a visceral reaction that is nearly instantaneous. Some of us are much better at identifying our own emotions than others. Some of us are very good at identifying the emotions of others, even if the other person is able to visibly shield their visceral reaction. Some of us misinterpret our own, as well as others’ emotions. It can all be quite overwhelming, and depending on where you are on the spectrum of empathy, it can really cause your own stress to suffer.
Countless books and programs exist to address all the different stressors, stress responses and reactions to our environment. One foundation that is important to recognize is that it all comes from within ourselves; it is actually your response to stress that we identify, and refer to as ‘stress’. Being as healthy as possible, at all times, is your best defense against ANY type of stress. Chiropractic is instrumental in removing stress from your body and is vital to any successful wellness program, or approach. A comprehensive approach to maximizing health expression including; acupuncture, massage and diet, in addition to chiropractic adjustments, is superior to the more traditional method of waiting until something is broken and trying to fix it. Living is not the same as simply not being dead.