Chronic stress has become something of an epidemic in our modern lifestyle, but it can have some very damaging and far-reaching effects on both our physical and our mental health. Reducing the impact of chronic stress can improve your life and lower your risk of developing a wide range of diseases and conditions, and treatment from a chiropractor can help.
When faced with a dangerous situation or predator, it is vital for us to respond as quickly and effectively as possible. As soon as our brain senses a threat, it triggers a hormonal and physiological response that courses throughout our body - the fight or flight response.
• increased heart rate and breathing rate
• digestion slowing down
• blood vessel constriction in most of the body, but dilation in the muscles
• pupil dilation
• relaxing of the bladder
• tunnel vision
• disinhibition of spinal reflexes
All of these powerful effects serve the purpose of slowing down or stopping all processes that aren't necessary to get you out of the situation you are in and instead directing energy to the parts of the body that will help you fight back or escape.
The fight or flight response is very effective at increasing your chances of being able to protect yourself in a life-threatening situation, but the types of stresses we encounter in our modern life are very different from those that our ancestors dealt with. But our bodies implement the exact same fight or flight response. For example, while an unpleasant email from your boss isn't life-threatening, you can still experience all of the above physiological responses. And, worse, something like work stress can happen multiple times a day, multiple times a week.
This is known as chronic stress. The effects on your body of never fully being free of the fight or flight response are numerous and can include an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, obesity, depression, immune disorders, and IBS. It can also cause lower back pain, tension headaches/migraines, and cause insomnia.
How a chiropractor can help to reduce stress
More and more people are seeking help from a chiropractor to help them deal with chronic stress, and there are a variety of ways in which chiropractic care can do so.
Spinal adjustments can:
• lower the blood pressure associated with chronic stress
• treat the back pain that is associated with chronic stress
• trigger the release of hormones such as oxytocin that can help to reduce both stress and pain
• relieve tension headaches and reduce the risk of them reoccurring
• help your body to relax
• help you to go to sleep
Your chiropractor will also be able to provide a range of treatments beyond spinal adjustments that together can help to relieve your stress, including:
• massage therapy
• stretches and exercises
• lifestyle advice, including nutrition, exercise, and sleep health
Chronic stress can negatively affect your day-to-day and it can also leave you at risk of serious health conditions. Your chiropractor can provide treatments that will reduce the physical and negative effects of chronic stress, and can also give you professional advice about how to make changes to your lifestyle to help reduce your stress at home.