Stress is one of the most common causes of disease and premature breakdown of the body. Stress weakens our immune system and makes us more susceptible to disease. However, stress can also strengthen our bodies and help us respond to the challenges of life. The key is balance. Unfortunately, most of us never get there. When we are stressed what is really happening is that the sympathetic portion of our nervous system is turned on. This system basically takes over when the body views something as threatening. This is also called the fight or flight response. The essence of stress says, “I don’t need to worry about anything on the inside right now because if I don’t survive what is in front of me right now, tomorrow wont matter.” This system pushes all the available energy in the body to the major muscle groups and puts the brain on maximum alert.
While certainly there are times when we all need to be able to respond to stress, most of us need to learn how to shut this system off or at least try to lessen the intensity. Triggers for this type of response are things like deadlines, bills you can’t pay, negative relationships and work related stress. What is essential to understand about stress is that it is actually the mind and the perception of stress that triggers the response. Thoughts like, “I’m not going to make it,” “I’m going to show them” and “they don’t like me” are all connected into this type of reasoning. Emotions such as anger, anxiety, worry, fear and depression are key as well. So what is the balance here? The good news is that we all have another side to us. This is called the parasympathetic nervous system. This system says, everything is OK on the outside and now it is time to take care of what is on the inside. Some of the functions that this system controls are things like digestion, elimination, sexuality and sleep. Now you can understand why you should never fight at the dinner table or eat before you go swimming. Not listening to what our bodies are telling us puts our health at risk.
The best way to turn on the parasympathetic system is to feed your self positive thoughts. Stopping in the middle of a stressful event and saying, “this is not life threatening” or “I’m going to make it just fine” will help to keep the stress to a minimum. Taking time for things like a quiet time in your faith, read encouraging books, eating and getting plenty of sleep can make a huge difference in balancing out your stressful lifestyle. Another part of the human experience is the role of relationships. Having relationships that are authentic, real and intimate are great for putting things in perspective and making us feel loved. Human beings are not solitary animals, we are herd animals and we need social interaction and support. Stress also reflexes to the physical body, which can cause the body to lock up or trigger constant muscle spasms. Chiropractic adjustments help to hit the reset button and give you a new start. Nutrition can also play a key role in managing stress. I have enclosed some suggestions that can also be helpful. I hope that these insights will be helpful in managing stress in your life. If we can be of further help, please do not hesitate to contact our office.
What we do wrong when we are stressed?
1. We consume Caffeine
2. We seek comfort foods – chocolate, sweets, sugar drinks
3. We eat what convenient – fast food, snacks (see food diet)
4. We forget to eat.
5. We forget to take our vitamins.
6. We eat too fast.
7. We eat too much.
8. We eat too late.
9. We take antacids
What we need to concentrate on when we are stressed?
1. Drink Water
2. 1 oz chocolate is OK – healthy snacks, but bingeing is out.
3. Plan 10 healthy meals and snacks and have them on hand.
4. Eat every 4-6 hours.
5. Take your vitamins.
6. Take time to relax when you eat.
7. Don’t over eat – .
8. Don’t eat 3-4 hours before bed time.
9. Watch your combinations of foods and add enzymes to your meals if you have difficulty with digestion.
What we can do emotionally when we are stressed?
1. Continually remind yourself that, “This is not life threatening”.
2. Constantly say, “I’m going to make it.”
3. Talk about your stress to people that care and take time to listen to others.
4. The difference between a roaring lion trying to devour you and just another day at work is the internal dialog you are feeding yourself