The Serious Effects of Stress on our Bodies
As we become ever more connected through technology, zipping around in cars and tapping away at our phones, we’ve become busier and busier. “Society as a whole is completely stressed out,” says Dr. Anna Flynn. “We have a schedule that prescribes what we do from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed.”
And oftentimes we bear this stress day in and day out, and except for a week-long vacation at the beach once a year, never take time to recuperate and recover from that daily stress.
As Dr. Flynn explains, there are three kinds of stress that manifest themselves in our minds and bodies.
Physical stress is related to your body. If you sit at a desk, drive, or stand all day, or do a job that requires you to lift heavy items, your body is under physical stress. Any of these activities can put a strain on your neck, lower, and upper back.
Chemical stressors are the things in the environment like harmful fragrances or unclean air that we breathe in or things we consume, such as processed foods, artificial sweeteners, sugar, and alcohol in excess.
Even if you haven’t noticed the first two types of stress in your life, most people can relate to emotional stress. You experience this type of stress if you’re too busy running from one place to the next, especially common now in the holiday season, as well as from a toxic work or home environment.
A Never-ending Loop
“All three types of stress are equally bad, and they can all cause damage to our overall well-being,” says Dr. Flynn. “And our bodies cannot differentiate the differences between them and simply perceive all of them as stress.”
Stress is a normal physiological response designed to keep you safe in the event of a perceived danger. So when you have a perceived stress, a signal from your brain is sent to stimulate our stress hormone (like cortisol) to be released. When the hormones are released, it causes our heart rate and blood pressure to increase, readying us for the “perceived danger.”
“Where the disconnect is,” says Dr. Flynn, “is that so many people have multiple layers of stress in their lives that this loop never gets turned off. Eventually it starts to take a toll on your health.”
The Physical Signs of Stress
Ongoing stress like this can result in negative effects on different systems in your body:
- Nervous system/muskuloskeletal: muscle tension, tightness in back/spine, neck stiffness, and back and neck pain
- Cardiovascular: high blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms
- Gastrointestinal: such as GERD, gastritis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable colon
- Mental health: depression, anxiety, and eating disorders
- Skin and hair: acne, psoriasis, eczema, and permanent hair loss
- Gastrointestinal: GERD, gastritis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable colon
“As chiropractors, we understand that all of these systems are connected with one another,” says Dr. Flynn. “And oftentimes it’s the neck and back pain that keeps us from engaging in healthy behaviors like sleeping well and exercising regularly.”
Chiropractic adjustments release muscle tension, realign your spine, and improve blood circulation, all things that help your brain turn off its stress response. Plus not having that nagging pain in your back can certainly help your body return to a more relaxed state.
If you’re experiencing some of these physical effects of stress, the chiropractors at Tuck Clinic can help you get back to feeling better so you can live better.
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