Submitted by Mindful Ease Chiropractic
In our modern lives, we all deal with stress. Most of us feel we have too much stress in our lives, and most of us are well aware of how bad this is for us.
Stress stimulates our sympathetic nervous system, also known as our “fight or flight” response. The response serves a purpose—it gets our body and mind ready to address an eminent threat, like a bear chasing us. Our increased heart rate, tense muscles at the ready, and hyper-awareness of our surroundings increase our chances of survival. Once we’ve escaped the bear, and the threat is over, our “fight or flight” stress response ends, and our body and mind relax.
However, if the “threat” is a work or school situation, a financial struggle, or a family member’s ongoing mental or physical illness, the “threat” is never over, and our bodies are in a constant state of “fight or flight.” Chronic stress is extremely bad for us, both mentally and physically. It leads to consistently high levels of cortisol. Cortisol has it’s place in small, brief doses (it got us away from the bear chasing us, right?), but when we have elevated cortisol levels over a period of time, we can do real damage to our health.
Some results of chronic stress include muscle tension (leading to chronic pain), high blood pressure, heart disease, high blood sugar (leading to weight gain), ulcers, stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, decreased immune function, erectile dysfunction, irregular menstrual cycles, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and much more. Yikes!
What can we do about it? There are many ways to address and reduce stress, including:
- Exercise—Most of us are familiar with the sense of mental calm and ease after a good workout. Exercise can take many forms, from a walk around the neighborhood with your dog to a tough spinning class to yoga at home or in a studio. Exercise boosts our endorphins and is known to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as promote good sleep.
- Meditation and breathing techniques—Being present in the moment, cultivating a sense of peace, or just having the ability to stop and breathe can be extremely beneficial. It can be as simple as stopping to notice your breath, saying a prayer of gratitude, or joining a meditation class.
- Chiropractic—Because stress has such a direct effect on our physical health and creates muscle tension and pain, chiropractic can be of great benefit. Chiropractic works to balance the nervous system, which includes calming an over-reactive “fight or flight” response. A relaxed body and balanced nervous system can make a big difference in the amount of stress we are feeling and our response to it.
Try any or all of these techniques, and see how they help you deal with stress. Take what works for you, and find ways to make them a regular part of your routine. You may be surprised at how much better you feel both mentally and physically when you have tools to manage some of the stresses in your life.
Dr. Freda Tyson is the owner of Mindful Ease Chiropractic in Davenport. She specializes in gentle and effective chiropractic care with no popping or cracking of the neck or spine. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, call 563-349-4652, email
firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.mindfuleasechiro.com.
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