Stress

It sure is something we hear a lot about these days, isn’t it?  We have the idea that stress is something we all unavoidably face… and that it’s somehow bad for us. Stress is a part of life, there’s no denying it.  Putting ourselves in stressful environments repeatedly over years or decades is one of the most damaging decisions we can make.

Over time our bodies have developed a complex and precise system of handling the stresses that we all inevitably confront.  What a gift!  These physiological changes are absolutely necessary for survival, and they have allowed us to thrive despite dangers that might otherwise have killed us. When something stressful happens, our natural innate response is activated:  our breathing rate, heart rate, and blood pressure increase; certain blood vessels constrict, increasing the flow of blood to our brain and muscles; the pupils of our eyes dilate.

All these changes get us ready to either fight really hard or run really fast – very important abilities for a select few events in our lives (imagine a tiger chasing you through the jungle, or a particularly dangerous stretch of traffic).  This innate fight-or-flight response is a brilliant short-term strategy, but it’s a disaster in the long run.

The problem is this:  the world has changed a lot, but our physiology has not.  The world moves faster than ever.  New types of stress appear constantly in our lives.  We’re attempting to juggle a huge variety of daily, constant, chronic stresses (work pressures and deadlines, financial and family responsibilities, insufficient rest, traffic, poor diet, and many more), and we’re trying to do that using a system not designed for it.

Being overstressed for days, weeks, months, and years is making us very, very sick.

Your body’s responses to chronic stress can include the following:

Increases in:

Risk of subluxation

Heart rate

Blood pressure

Blood glucose

Pain sensitivity

Lipid and cholesterol levels

Fear

Anxiety

Depression

Degradation of muscle and other tissues

Decreases in:

Serotonin

Growth hormone

Cellular immunity

Short-term memory

Concentration

Learning ability

Patience

Calmness

Immune system function

Clearly this is a dangerous situation.  But remember:  these changes do not mean that something is wrong with our bodies!  These changes are healthy and natural, they help us survive, and they only become dangerous when they’ve been present for a long time.  These changes are not the disease.  The disease is the chronically stressful work and home environments too many people are struggling to survive these days, without working hard to keep themselves healthy.

The most important step you can take to protect yourself from the devastating effects of chronic stress is to keep your spine and nervous system healthy through chiropractic care.

Check out our next blog coming soon for some healthy and natural recommendations for thriving despite the stresses in your life.

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