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Friday, August 7, 2015

DON'T LET STRESS TURN TO DISTRESS

By  Dr. Jon Thomas D.C PSc.D, Board Certified Chiropractic Physician.

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Face it, everyone experiences stress from time to time. Stress is a normal part of life. Whether it’s short-term stress induced by sitting in a traffic jam on your way to an interview, or an earth shattering event like the death of a loved one, it can wreak havoc on the body and mind. And while a little bit of stress can be good for motivation and memory development, chronic stress can both cause and exacerbate health issues. Today, approximately 70% to 80% of doctor’s visits are attributed to stress-related illnesses and health issues. 

The problem is there is no built-in stress meter in the body. Your body doesn’t know if you‘re experiencing minor or major stress because it reacts the same way. When you are in a stressful situation, the hypothalamus in the brain sends chemical triggers to the adrenal glands, located at the top of each kidney. The adrenal glands kick into action and release hormones like cortisol, which raises blood pressure and blood sugar. This gives you the ability to run faster and think more clearly, but it can be harmful if sustained over time.

MORE EFFECTS OF STRESS

For one thing, there’s a lot of evidence that points to a relationship between stress and the propensity for a heart attack. That’s good enough reason for most people to find a way to manage their stress.

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When the adrenal chemicals are released during a stressful event, a headache is often the result. Muscle tension causes headaches and migraines and if you stiffen your shoulders or grind your teeth under stress, these headaches can worsen. 

Stressful times can lead to sleepless nights and prolonged insomnia that lead to a bevy of health issues with long-lasting effects. Grogginess that lasts throughout the day is in and of itself stressful when the pressure is on. It’s time to manage your stress when REM sleep is not part of your daily routine.

MANAGE YOUR STRESS- DON’T LET IT MANAGE YOU

It’s time to manage your stress before it begins to manage you. Stress-related illnesses are preventable if you can keep stress at bay. Here are some remedies to consider.

BREATHE DEEPLY

One of the keys to effectively manage stress is to trigger the body’s natural “relaxation response” coined by Dr. Herbert Benson of the American Institute of Stress (AIS). “The relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress (e.g., decreases in heart rate, blood pressure, rate of breathing and muscle tension.)

When eliciting the relaxation response:

  • Your metabolism decreases.
  • Your heart beats slower and your muscles relax.
  • Your breathing becomes slower.
  • Your blood pressure decreases.
  • Your levels of nitric oxide are increased.” (http://www.stress.org/take-a-deep-breath/)

Breathing deeply elicits the relaxation response if done correctly. (This is one reason why meditation is so calming.) Sit in a comfortable position and put one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. The key is to try to breathe from your abdomen rather than your chest. The 4-7-8 technique is widely used. Inhale through your nose for four seconds. Hold your breath for seven and exhale through your mouth slowly for eight seconds. You should try this for about four to eight times, three times a day. The results are astounding and if you adhere to this practice, you may notice a pervasive sense of relaxation that you didn’t know was possible.

GET MOVING 
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Exercise in almost any form acts as a stress reliever. Endorphins (the body’s happy chemicals) are released during physical activity and produce what is known as a “runner’s high.” But you don’t have to run to get this feeling; playing an enthusiastic game of volleyball or working up a sweat in a Zumba class will produce the same effect.

The benefits of exercise on stress go much further than just the release of endorphins. Regular physical activity helps to improve sleep, which can be disrupted by the effects of stress on the body as well as give a heightened sense of self-confidence. You’ll be ready to handle stressful situations with a more calm and clear disposition than ever before.

MANAGE YOUR TIME

Where did the time go? Lack of time tends to be one of the biggest stressors for many people who need to balance work and family. Americans spend more time at work than ever and have increasingly scheduled lives that often don’t include rest and relaxation.
Try keeping track of your time with a spreadsheet Track your time for a week with how much time you spend working, sleeping, cooking, cleaning, playing, relaxing, etc. Once that is done, try to arrange your schedule to include activities like exercise and things that you enjoy and find better ways to reduce the time you spend on activities that cause stress. (You might also consider investing in a FitBit.)

Check out the book authored by Laura Vanderkam entitled, “168 Hours: You have more time than you think.”

MAKE A REGULAR APPOINTMENT WITH A CHIROPRACTOR

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As I have pointed out before, the negative effects of stress on the body include muscle tension and contraction. This can result in misalignment of the spine and other joints of the body. These misalignments can cause nerve irritation which leads to conditions such as neck and back pain, jaw pain and headaches. Chiropractic adjustments help to release muscle tension which in turn helps the body to return to a more balanced and natural relaxed state. 

Chiropractors are also trained in nutritional therapy in order to approach illnesses holistically. Supplements that are known to help the body cope with stress may also be administered to complete the entire treatment. Many chiropractors offer yoga classes in their health centers to complement the treatment. Taking a holistic approach to stress will not only bring your body back to a balanced state, it can also give you the emotional strength to handle irksome situations in a more calm and controlled manner.

Changing the way you manage your stress may make it a non-issue in your life and return you to a state of optimum health and well-being.

This article discusses the negative effects of stress on your body and ways to manage your stress before it begins to manage you. From deep breathing techniques to chiropractic care, it is key to discover what works for you and incorporate it into your lifestyle to beat the damaging effects of stress.

If you found this article useful, or are inspired to make a change, please share it with your friends, family and co-workers. Take the time to visit our testimonials page on our website and don’t forget we are a full service chiropractic office that is here to help you deal with pain as well. If you have a comment you would like to express about this article, please leave it in the comment section of this blog.



Dr. Jon Thomas is a Board Certified Chiropractic Physician, his interest in health started at an early age resulting from an athletic life, including BMX racing, Professional Snow Skiing, Water Skiing, Baseball, Weight Lifting, and Martial Arts. After learning from top health experts in the world, Dr. Thomas’s life is dedicated to reaching people of all ages to begin their life transformation. The goal is to start the body healing resulting in a body that is functioning at its optimal.  In addition to serving his community in his Mandarin Based Practice, Dr. Thomas is seen regularly on TV’s First Coast Living talking about his patient’s transformations, speaking at events throughout the community, and writing articles to re-shape the health of the Jacksonville Community.

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5 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I like the fact the Dr. Thomas presented several ways to reduce stress that I can easily incorporate into my life.

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  3. Worrying about stress can stress you out. The secret to managing stress is to have a system designed to reduce distress. One of my favorites is a weekly massage. Ahhhh!

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  4. I have really wanted to incorporate deep breathing techniques into my day. It feels great to just focus on something so simple for a few minutes.

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  5. Nicely done. I had not heard of the 4-7-8 deep breathing technique, so I just tried it, and feel a little more relaxed already!

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