Stress At This Time of Year

It’s that time of year when our lives are filled with holiday family, fun, food, and stress. But what is stress to you?

Stress is defined quite differently depending on the source. A combination of sources giving us a better idea of what stress is all about: stress is “the depletion of available resources in the personality”.

Depletion of available resources such as tolerance, financial resources, or physical resources such as “too many things for one person to do”? Stress is also defined as “A physiological or psychological response to a stressor beyond what is needed to accomplish a task”.

Another definition of interest: “Any real or perceived adverse stimulus, physical or psychological, that tends to disturb an individual’s homeostasis”. We (including myself) stress about things we have no control over. An example would be the crazy driver who cut you off this morning and now your positive resources (if you had any) are removed and now you come home or to work in a bad mood. Worry also falls into this category.

But what disturbs our “homeostasis”? Homeostasis is our balance. It’s our “usual” way of doing things. Change disrupts this homeostasis and is the root of much stress. People who exhibit few signs of stress are flexible and adapt easily to change.

There are many types of stresses. The above constitute mental and emotional tied together, but there is also emotional abuse causing stress and many other triggers. Emotional factors such as grieving, anger or feeling sad triggers differing responses to the body. Other types of stress include physiological and physical stress.

Research today is focusing on how stress affects us physiologically. Here are some findings: “Chronic stress may accelerate cell aging”; there seems to be a link between our thoughts, and immune function; stress purportedly contributes to heart disease, Type II Diabetes, certain types of cancer, digestive malfunction, osteoporosis, weakened adrenal glands (a mediator of the bodily response to stress), and arthritis. Stress can make us sick!

With high “stress” the body reacts with a “fight or flight” response. Physical stress is how the body responds to danger. Anything not responsible for either fighting or fleeing gets shut down. When we are in a flight or fight response, blood pressure increases, blood vessels contract, breathing speeds up, skin can get cold and pale, and at the same time digestive functions (especially release of enzymes) gets shut down. Without good digestion, we lack the essential nutrients the body needs to fight our daily challenges. Every organ system in the body suffers. Our regulatory system controls tissues not under voluntary action such as the heart and lungs, blood vessels and glands, and smooth muscle. Short-term stress can often be overcome with minimal impact on the body, however, long-term stress can reduce resistance to disease, inhibit the body’s self-healing processes, and reduce life-span.

What can be done about it? We can learn to relax. Easy to say, hard to do. I know I’ve been here and still battle with it constantly. Correcting structural deviations are the best to start the body healing properly with corrective chiropractic care. There are many organized methods of reducing stress such as yoga, deep breathing techniques, meditation, guided imagery, biofeedback, and exercise. There are healing modalities that work as well such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, and massage to name a few. Combinations of the above plus good nutrition is the best remedy you can have.

Simple dietary changes to relieve the burden such as eliminating coffee and sugar. It has been proven that the body’s coping capacity is dependent upon healthy brain chemistry (which is influenced by vitamins, minerals, essential fats and amino acids) and that an abundance of these nutrients is absolutely essential to a healthy mental/emotional body.

The true issue is that you have to search and find what works for you. There are many suggestions to dealing with the burdens of life. It’s an inescapable consequence of being alive. But how we DEAL WITH those burdens is what ultimately has the impact on our body and in our lives. Using corrective chiropractic care, herbal medicine, good nutritional practices and exercise are your best combination for combating stress, especially this time of year!

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