Stress is a serious problem in the United States. Over 50 percent of people admit to being under a significant amount of stress on a daily basis. People down play the importance of being under too much stress by stating, “it’s just stress and I just need to push through it.” However, if we don’t properly deal with stress, we can substantially decrease our life expectancy.
Why is stress an issue? Any amount of stress initiates our sympathetic (fight or flight) response which activates a special pathway known as the IMT. When activated, this pathway tells the brain to release chemical sensations that activate various catabolic systems (increased heart rate, constriction of blood vessels, increased blood pressure while decreasing digestion, sex drive, and growth hormone, etc.). Too much stress also affects the adrenal glands. During times of stress, the adrenal glands release a chemical called cortisol. This cortisol, if produced in excess for extended periods of time, can lead to heart attacks and strokes, which, obviously, nobody wants.
The human brain cannot differentiate between the constant stress of notifications on our electronic devices and being chased by a tiger in the wilderness. It’s evolutionarily programmed into our brains. The brain, in an attempt to prevent further stress, will create associations with situations and places in attempt to prevent future “threatening” situations. This process is referred to as neuroplasticity. To put it simply, neurons that fire together, wire together. When we develop this neuroplasticity, in this negative sense, we create a stress-feedback-loop in which certain environments or places will automatically create an increase in our stress response. This connection was beneficial to our ancestors as the human population needed to remember to watch out for alligators at watering holes but has little place in modern society. However, we can develop these unnecessary associations with places such as work and home due to poorly managed stress.
With all the discussion around stress, it appears quite grim. Fortunately, there are things we can do to manage stress. Here are a few.
1. Get adjusted.
One of the most effective things to do is to get regularly adjusted by your chiropractor. When you get adjusted, the feedback loop that you experience through neuroplasticity is broken. Your body will actually begin to unlearn the harmful associations it’s made.
2. Say no!
it is okay to say no. Removing unnecessary tasks and activities from your calendar will decrease the quantity of stress experienced throughout the day, thus increasing your overall compacity for other things, especially those you enjoy.
Make time to mediate daily. Meditation has been shown to be extremely successful in healing the body and reducing stress. This, combined with adequate amounts of “good” rest, is great for lowering cortisol levels.
4. Eat a clean diet.
It is extremely important to make sure you are consuming clean food. When you don’t eat clean foods, your body is being put through extremely high amounts of stress chemically.
By following most, if not all, of these recommendations, the human body is allowed to function in a state of the least interference and can perform to its fullest potential.