How does stress effect health?

When you think about the term ‘stress’, your mind probably jumps straight to feelings of emotional negativity. Whilst this can definitely be the case with many forms of stress I prefer to think of it as multifaceted: Emotional, Physical and Chemical/Nutritional.

In some cases stress is actually good for us, it can help us perform better and get stronger. For example, working out at the gym creates microtears in muscle fibres which then repair, making the muscle bigger and stronger! The right amount of emotional stress, like an attainable deadline, helps us focus our mind and do our best work. However, it goes without saying that too much stress can be detrimental to your health. Most of my patients come in to see me for either a painful symptom or a desire to function better. The root cause will be from one of the three stressors mentioned previously. If a patient has an acute injury from trauma then the cause is physical stress. On the other hand, chronic pain (older than 6 weeks) is more complicated. The question I ask is: why has this person’s body not healed their acute injury in the expected 3-6 weeks? The answer usually is lifestyle related stress.

How does stress effect health?

The body reacts to stress with the fight/flight response. This is completely normal, understandable and healthy. However, fight/flight was only designed to be a short term acute response. Unfortunately many of us are living constantly in this state. When you run away from a threat your blood pressure rises, digestion shuts down, blood clotting factors get mobilised and blood shunts to the muscles of your arms and legs. Your immune and digestive systems get ‘paused’, and healing and repair take a backseat. On the other hand, when your stress has been generated by sitting at the computer, getting road rage or dealing with a difficult family situation your body doesn’t get the physical release of fighting or running away and you don’t get the endorphins that switch off your flight and fight. Often, this stress lasts days, months or even years! Medication can be effective at reducing some of these symptoms, but it is the lifestyle stress that is the cause.

What’s the solution?

Baby steps. Small incremental steps that fly under the radar and don’t trigger objection from your brain. Over time these will create new behaviour patterns that you can slowly build upon with more small steps. For best results, target all three stressors. Chemical/Nutritional Stress: Eat vegetables instead of chips. Physical Stress: Get out of your chair to give your back a break and take the stairs! Last but not least, Emotional Stress: Use a meditation app for 5 minutes daily and prioritise your sleep.

At Farnham Chiropractic Wellness we take all three stressors seriously and have a lifestyle re-boot programme called ‘8 Weeks to Wellness’ that specifically targets all the types of stress your body may be dealing with – your body may be dealing with stress you aren’t even aware of, so come in and see us. We measure your health and wellbeing with our uniquely tailored Wellness Score and then attend to your specific health needs with chiropractic, nutritional advice, in house personal training, massage and mindfulness.