A Chiropractor’s Guide to Reduce Stress and Gain Balance

Michael Collins of Flow Chiropractic discusses the different aspects of stress, its effects on the body, stages of stress, different types of stressors and natural, holistic stress management tools.

As a chiropractor, I explore the intricate relationship between stress and the human body every day. Stress, good or bad, is built into our fast-paced lives. Understanding the dynamics of stress is crucial; we often think of stress as something that only happens to us mentally. However, it comes in many forms (physical, chemical, and emotional) and can manifest in our bodies in many ways.

The pros and cons of stress

Stress isn’t always the bad guy. Some stress is essential for growth and resilience. The rush of adrenaline before a presentation, the jitters during exercise, or the increased awareness during exercise are all benefits of stress, making us stronger and more capable. Stress can help increase our awareness, prepare our bodies to respond, and improve our overall performance capabilities.

The key is the balance between stress and relaxation, and our ability to move easily from a stressed state to a stress-free state. While acute or short-term stress can be beneficial or even unpleasant, chronic stress, on the other hand, can lead to long-term health problems. I see this often in practice, emphasizing the importance of effective stress management.

stage of stress

The body responds to stress through three stages. We should be able to switch back and forth between alert and recovery phases. Unfortunately, sometimes there are too many stressors, or the stress we experience lasts too long. This puts our nervous system into a state of chronic stress.

The three stages of stress are:

  • alarm: Physiological alertness to stressors, triggering the release of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, initiating the “fight or flight” response. These hormones cause increases in heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure, while slowing down less important functions such as digestion, immunity, and the reproductive system.
  • recover: During this stage, the body attempts to return to its normal state. Ideally, it can be restored and functionality should return to normal. However, if stress persists, the body will continue to produce stress hormones while trying to return to a state of rest and digestion. As the body fights between the two states, more stress is added.
  • exhausted: Long-term stress that cannot be resolved can lead to chronic stress, which can seriously affect your health. This can lead to disturbances in the immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems, leading to fatigue, illness, burnout, and reduced stress tolerance.

Your body will often let you know when there is too much stress in your life that is not being addressed.

Symptoms are often related to stress

Many times, many physical symptoms are caused by stress:

  • low energy
  • Headache
  • digestive problems
  • muscle tension
  • rash
  • neck and back pain
  • inflammation
  • Insomnia
  • irritability
  • lack of concentration

If you have any of these symptoms, consider the level of stress in your life right now. This may be the reason why you feel unwell.

Type of pressure

Not all stress is created equal. There are several different types of stressors:

  • physical stressors: Significant physical stress (such as injury, excessive exercise, and poor posture) can cause significant physical stress. Sitting for long periods of time can actually stress your system!
  • chemical stressors: Chemical stress can be caused by pollutants in the air/water, additives in food, and excessive intake of caffeine, sugar, processed foods, or alcohol.
  • emotional stressors: Work demands, relationship stress, trauma, and social expectations can lead to mental stress that affects the mind and body.

Stress can come in many different forms. Identifying what’s affecting you can help you feel better.

stress management tools

So how do we deal with stress? Here are some proven and proven tips that should be added to your daily routine to help reduce and manage stress:

  • exercise regularly: Physical activity can act as a natural stress reliever, releasing endorphins and promoting overall health. Start small and commit to just walking outside for 10 minutes a day.
  • healthy nutrition: A balanced, clean diet rich in real foods and essential nutrients can help the body fight stress. An easy way to start is to cook at least one meal a day from scratch.
  • Mindfulness and relaxation techniques: Practices like meditation and deep breathing can calm the mind and shift the body from stress to relaxation. An easy way to start is to take short breathing breaks throughout the day – simply take a break and take five slow, deep breaths from your belly.
  • Chiropractic treatment: Chiropractic care focuses on balancing the body, specifically the spine, which contains the major nerve tracts that make up most of the nervous system. Aligning the spine enhances the brain’s ability to send and receive messages to the body, helping to transition between states of stress and relaxation, among many other important tasks.

To reduce the negative effects of stress, it’s important to incorporate at least one of these tools into your life.

limit pressure

Understanding the nature of stress can allow you to take more effective approaches to managing it. Minimizing physical, chemical, and emotional stress through lifestyle changes and proactive steps can significantly improve your overall health. Small, consistent steps to manage stress can bring lasting benefits to the body and mind.

Do you need help relieving stress? Flow Chiropractic offers chiropractic adjustments to help you regain balance, both physically and mentally.

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