Every day a vast majority of people in the United States are in a state of worry: about money, children, jobs, a spouse or significant other, or hundreds of other things or events, whether they can be controlled or not.
Some people are very aware of the strain and tension in their life, but many live with stress that cannot be seen, or are unwilling to admit. Daily life continues for these worried people, thinking this is the way it is supposed to be– the NORM. Whole lives and behaviors are built around stress.
What Stress Does to Your Body
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 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 more 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.
Your Body to Age: All cells and organs fail to operate at their full potential, and begin to get old before their time. For instance, as a stomach ages, food sits in it longer and can start to spoil before it even is fully digested. This can lead to colon problems and serious digestive issues. Your skin and heart can also be affected by stress.
Sugar to Build Up: When humans were hunters and gatherers, their stress was often focused on being stalked by a predator. Their bodies understood this stress and released sugars for instant energy so they could flee or fight. Today, when stress causes the sugars to release, humans don’t use them for energy. These sugars go unused and the body stores them as fat.
Your Blood to Thicken: Thicker blood allows our bodies to carry more oxygen to help with our fight or flight. Like previously mentioned, bodies no longer use this feature as nature originally intended and now thicker blood only starts the process of building up plaque on the walls of our arteries.
Increased Number of Diseases: Stress depresses the body’s immune system. Colds and viruses are more common in stressed people. Viruses can cause some cancers, so keeping a strong healthy immune system is very important. Stress has also been linked to Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and other autoimmune disorders.
How the Body Reacts to Stress
When a body senses stress, it automatically gets ready to run or fight. It is one of the wonders of the human body. Here is a quick run-down of what happens:
First, the natural response causes the stomach and colon to shut down. Extra blood is needed by the body and it takes them from the stomach and colon. With no blood, these organs age faster. Food that was being digested now just sits there and starts to spoil, which ends up in your colon. More than 90% of any immune system is battling disease in the colon.
Second, the body’s metabolism changes. The body needs energy and it needs protein. It goes to the muscles to get it. If a person doesn’t replace the protein and all the amino acids and enzymes, you lose muscle. You lose body shape when you lose muscle. The body replaces the muscle with FAT!
How Chiropractic Care Can Help
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. Contact Discover Health and Wellness Uptown and let us empower you to begin a new path in managing stress.