People experience stress in a variety of ways. Worries about finances or employment, problems with your kids or significant other, even concerns about the state of the world register as stressors for many people.
Stress causes both acute (immediate) and chronic (long-lasting) health issues. Luckily, a holistic approach to wellness, including chiropractic care, helps alleviate both the feelings and impact of stress, in other words guiding through the stress management .
The Bodily Symptoms of Stress
Stress triggers your body’s fight or flight response. This goes back to the days when the only real stressors concerning humans were physical dangers. The adrenaline surge you experience after hearing a loud noise is one of the leftovers from ancestors afraid that that loud noise came from something that wanted to eat them.
Stress causes a number of physical changes in your body, starting with your brain. Your heart rate increases and begins directing blood to your extremities. Your vision and hearing become more acute. Your adrenal glands begin secreting adrenaline as a means of preparing your body for physical exertion. This is what “fight or flight response” really means.
If you’re walking alone at night and hear footsteps behind you, this fight of flight response is a good thing. However, if you experience prolonged stress, this sort of physical response leads to a host of health issues, including high blood pressure, diabetes, a compromised immune system, and muscle tissue damage. This is because your body doesn’t understand there are different types of stress; it only knows that stress represents danger and it reacts accordingly.
Treating the Effects of Stress with Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic adjustments of the spine help relieve may of the symptoms of stress. This is because the spine is the root of the nervous system. Adjustments calm the fight or flight reaction by activating the parasympathetic system. In addition, they relieve pain and muscle tension, improve circulation, and correct alignment. These benefits all combine to relieve the symptoms of stress, which actually reduces how stressed the patient feels.
A Well-Rounded Approach
In addition to spinal adjustments, chiropractors guide their patients through a variety of stress management methods, including dietary changes, exercise, meditation, and relaxation techniques.
A balanced, healthy diet helps the body handle a variety of issues and ailments, including stress. Adhering to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates, with minimal processed and prepackaged foods, vastly improves overall health.
In addition to all of its other health benefits, exercise is an especially effective stress reliever. When you exercise, the energy you expend relieves the pent-up tension and energy of stress. It also releases endorphins, which help elevate mood and decrease feelings of anxiety. Yoga is a particularly effective type of exercise for relieving stress, but any activity you enjoy works well.
Meditation takes a variety of forms and practitioners choose the ones that work best for them. For some, writing in a journal becomes their preferred form of meditation, while others are more traditional in their approach.
Closely related to meditation are various relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises, releasing muscle tension, and listening to soothing music or nature sounds.
- Breathing exercises are simple and offer immediate stress relief. Start by inhaling slowly and deeply through your nose, while counting to six and extending your stomach. Hold the breath for a four-count, and then release the breath, through your mouth, again counting to six. Repeat the cycle between three and five times.
- Release muscle tension through a technique called “progressive muscle relaxation.” Find a comfortable position, either sitting with your feet on the floor, or lying on your back. Work your way through each muscle group, starting at either your feet or your head, tensing the muscle for a count of five, and then releasing. Wait 30 seconds and then move to the next muscle group. Wondering how to tense the muscles of your face? For the upper face, raise your eyebrows as high as you can and feel the tension in your forehead and scalp. For the central part of your face, squint your eyes and wrinkle your nose and mouth. Finally, for the lower face, clench your teeth and pull back the corners of your mouth (you’ll look like an angry dog).
- Soothing sounds like instrumental music (such as you’d hear on a guided meditation) or nature sounds help relax both the body and the mind.
With a balanced lifestyle approach that incorporates chiropractic care, you should soon see reductions in the physical toll stress takes on your body.
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