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The Hidden Link Between Stress and Your Well-Being

Updated: Jan 13

Chiropractic is all about improving nervous system function. Mini science lesson: Your brain controls every single part of you. It controls your perception, your mood/emotions, your body functions like breathing, digestion, sleep and blood pressure. Your brain is in charge of EVERYTHING! (Huge task right?) Your brain sends and receives messages with the rest of your body via the spinal cord and spinal nerves. The spine houses and protects your spinal cord and your skull aka cranial bones house and protect your brain. Any dysfunction in your spine, cranial bones or nervous system can distort the messages that your brain sends and receives from your body. Chiropractors aim to find and correct that dysfunction so that your nervous system can function optimally.

Whew! Okay that's a summarized version of how chiropractic impacts nervous system function. Let's dive a little deeper.

Why would there be dysfunction in the first place? Have you ever heard of stress? I would guess that you, like most of us, have encountered your fair share of stress throughout your life. A little bit of stress might be easy to handle, but when you get overwhelmed physically and mentally by the plethora of stressors in this world, your nervous system also get's overwhelmed. Let's take a look at the 3 main types of stress: Physical, Chemical & Emotional.

Physical Stress: Do you experience aches, pains, headaches or tense muscles? Physical stress is usually caused by a big trauma such as a car accident, a fall or an injury and/or repetitive movements and postures. All of these things cause stress on the structures of your body and over time can cause discomfort, dysfunction, and degeneration. The most important thing is that it causes stress on your nervous system. Don’t panic! You are not a lost cause! With regular chiropractic care, your brain and body can communicate better and allow you to perform and repair better.

Chemical Stress: Simply put, this is anything inhaled, ingested or injected. What we consume, what our skin absorbs, and what we inhale can all cause chemical stress in your body. AND if you’re not consuming good things that your body needs to function (like water and essential nutrients) that can also cause chemical stress in your body. Remember in middle school and high school, all the hallways smelled so strongly of axe body spray that it gave you a headache? Remember when you drank a bit too much alcohol and you may have purged and felt terrible the next day? These are some examples of chemical stresses that you can easily recall. Sometimes, however, we may not notice the effects of chemical stress. These stressors may come in small doses but build up over time. If your detox systems are not running effectively this can wreak havoc on your nervous system function and your overall health!

3 ways you can combat chemical stress?

-Get adjusted and optimize nervous system function

-Research and avoid toxin consumption

-Drink plenty of water and periodically do a detox or cleanse

Emotional: Ah yes, surely you’re familiar with emotional stress by now. From anxiety, depression, irritability, anger and more, (regardless of how well you handle emotional stress) it can take a toll on your body and nervous system. Stress, specifically emotional stress, is one of the main reasons people seek vitalistic chiropractic care. When you are faced with a stressful situation, your body goes into a fight-or-flight response to protect you, help you stay focused + alert, and keep you alive! Any system your body doesn't need in a moment of survival (like digestion, sleep, fertility) takes a backseat as your body gears up to help you survive a potential threat (more on this later.) When your adrenal glands keep pumping out cortisol and other hormones your body can go into a CHRONIC stress pattern. Chronic stress means that you will be less adaptable to any new stressors you may encounter, and the stress cycle continues and worsens.

All 3 types of stress are prevalant in today's world. But can you guess which one has surpassed the others and wreaks the most havoc in today's society? Yep, that's right: emotional stress. Remember when I talked about fight or flight earlier? This explains the connection between stress and your nervous system function. Mini science lesson #2: There are two main branches of your autonomic nervous system: sympathetic and parasympathetic. Sympathetic is like the "gas pedal" and parasympathetic is like the "brake pedal." We think of sympathetic activity as “fight or flight.”

Let's imagine a scenario. You're out in the woods on a lovely hike when all of a sudden a feisty mama bear starts charging towards you. Your instinct has one goal in mind: survival. The important thing for you in a moment like that is fighting and running away from the bear so your body will put a pause on functions like digestion, sleep, and reproduction (parasympathetic activities) as those are not important while running from a bear. However, running from a bear is not the typical reason our bodies enter a fight-or-flight state in today's world. Stress and anxiety are the most common reasons today’s humans are in a sympathetic state. When we stay stressed for long periods of time, our body will start to have long term negative effects with our digestion, sleep and fertility.

So what does this have to do with chiropractic?

The chiropractic adjustment allows for balance of parasympathetic nerves (rest, digest, procreation) and create a more ideal state for our bodies to HEAL because your body no longer feels like it’s getting chased by a bear. As chiropractors, we look for nervous system stress and release it via gentle and specific adjustments. With consistency, you will see how improved brain/body communication can improve your entire life.


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