Our lives today have become congested and over run with stress. The effects of stress are seen across the nation at an earlier age and with more detrimental health effects. Stress can be caused by a number of factors, both personal and professional. In most cases, though, it is the result of the difference between what we would like to happen in our lives, and what is really happening, or what we believe is happening.
Short Term Stress
Stress that is short term can be beneficial in that it serves to focus our attention on important matters. However, when stress becomes ongoing and chronic, it can cause immense problems for the sufferer. It can adversely affect our performance at work and elsewhere, and it can lead to a host of physical ailments, including cancer and heart disease, as it degrades our immune system and stresses our bodily functions. It can also provoke other psychological side-effects such a depression and substance abuse.
Long Term Stress
Stress is a highly personal experience, dependent on our coping mechanisms and predisposition to emotional fatigue. Some people, for example, are able to release stress by venting their aggression verbally or physically, but this is only a temporary fix.
Stress causes the body to undergo certain reactions: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. It is not just “in the mind”; it causes genuine physical reactions, including the release of epinephrine, or adrenaline, which is our “fight or flight” hormone. It also triggers the release of glucocorticoid cortisol, or hydrocortisone, which has anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant effects. Excessive levels of this can retard growth and healing, and increase the chance of infection. Chronic stress can lead to anxiety, hopelessness and then depression.
Psychological problems often lead to pain, which research shows can be worse than that caused by strenuous physical activity or repetitive motion. Lower back pain and headaches are particularly common, and persistent pain only exacerbates the psychological problems, such as trouble sleeping. A vicious cycle soon emerges where the stress fuels the physical which fuels the stress and so on.
Work Related Stress:
Work is a major cause of stress, and is especially prevalent since the economic crisis took hold. The risk of high blood pressure and heart disease is just one effect seen. Research has demonstrated, however, that it is often our perception of the demands placed on us that affects us more than the reality of the situation. In other words, our attitude is key. If we can control our reactions, we can reduce our stress levels and the physical effects of stress. For example, stressed individuals who react angrily at work have markedly higher levels of morning cortisol and are prone to higher blood pressure. Gender plays a large role in regards to the stress triggers and release mechanisms.
Getting Stress Relief:
With stress being so potentially damaging to our mental and physical health, our goal must be to find ways to ease the stress. However if we cannot remove the triggers, we have to change our reaction to those triggers.
Chiropractic Can Help!
Chiropractic has been proven to be a safe and highly effective treatment to not only help alleviate the tension and stress related physical symptoms but our team is here to help you prepare your body for future stress management.
Step into the New Year Strong! Call and schedule an appointment today and let us help you make 2014 your Best Year Yet!
For Your Health,
Dr. Scott Van Dam