Chiropractic Care as a Tool for Stress Management
As a chiropractor, I try to look at the body as a whole and integrated system as opposed to a series of parts that work individually. Therefore, I take a holistic approach to treatment. I truly believe in the interconnectedness between mental and physical health. You are all most likely familiar with the concept of stress, so I won’t bore you with already familiar details. What you may not know about stress is how and why it can affect your physical state. Some of what is happening is happening deep in your physiology on a cellular level, so you may not be aware of the effects it is having. Other times you can feel the physical tension within your body that is caused by stress.
With stress comes heightened level of the hormone Cortisol. Increased levels of Cortisol within your blood for extended periods of time leads to inflammation within the body. Inflammation can cause a multitude of problems systemically, one of which is poor digestion. A lot of the neurotransmitters that are important for a balanced mood are produced within the gut and as a result of the food we digest. Therefore, disruption of digestion has been linked to mental health struggles like anxiety and depression. Additionally, prolonged states of inflammation have been related to the development of chronic illnesses like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, some cancers, and Alzheimer’s. Therefore mitigating your levels of inflammation, Cortisol, and stress can be imperative to your overall health.
Your autonomic nervous system, which controls everything that your body does subconsciously to function such as breathing and maintaining your heart rhythm, is divided into two opposing categories. One is the parasympathetic division and the other is the sympathetic division. When you are stressed you are primarily recruiting the sympathetic division. This is the neurological state that should be reserved for times when you are facing threatening circumstances. Your body was never meant to sustain a sympathetic state. When you are on sympathetic overdrive, you are taxing your adrenal glands, increasing your blood pressure, decreasing your ability to digest your food properly, and decreasing your ability to sleep. Does this sound like how you may have felt during a time of high stress? These effects of the sympathetic state when prolonged or sustained also contribute to increased inflammatory markers within your body, like the increased Cortisol as mentioned above.
For many individuals stress manifests as neck/shoulder tension, perhaps a tension headache, but for others it shows up as lower back pain. Or if you are already dealing with an ailment or pain of some type, stress can exacerbate it. Which is where I can help. I can help you combat the physical pain that can be caused by stress that you are aware of. What you may not know is that chiropractic adjustments serve as a neurological reset. It causes a switch within the body from a sympathetic state to a parasympathetic state. When the body is under parasympathetic control you are in a much more sustainable state. It allows the body to recover from the heightened stress that you inevitably encounter daily or weekly. It improves your ability to sleep. It also helps you digest your food and use the nutrients that you have consumed. Therefore I can also help you combat the symptoms of stress that you may not be aware of before they cause physical pain or lasting detrimental effects.
Exercise is also a great tool to decrease stress. Medical doctors and mental health therapists often prescribe it as a means of stress management. By taking care of your body through regular chiropractic care you are ensuring that you will be able to continue to exercise consistently. Helping patients be able to do what they love is my number one goal for all of my patients. Together we work to decrease the physical and physiological effects of stress and elevate your quality of life. Last but certainly not least, taking care of yourself and maintaining good self-care habits during stressful times helps you to deal with the stress more effectively and empowers you to take control of your circumstances. It’s amazing what 20 minutes of focused care on you can do to help decrease stress and improve your overall health.