StressÂ comes from a variety of places and for many different reasons. These could be mental and/or physical. Family, employment/unemployment, working too hard, the daily/nightly commute, relationships, illness and sleep problems. All of these can create stress. The American Psychology Association showed that 54% of Americans worry about their stress andÂ are likely to seek help.
People become stressed and they don’t know it. This is the way of the modern world and we’ve become used to it. Despite getting used to a stressful world, it still places genuine strain on the body. These manifest through increasedÂ blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, metabolism, and blood flow. This is the primordial fight or flight reaction, preparing for action from a stressful situation.
The body’s Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS)Â is what generates the fight or flight reaction. When the body feels a stressor, the SNS turns on and stimulates the appropriate bodily response. This is what allows us to defend ourselves in the wild, where stress comes from reaction to wild animals and grave danger. In todayâ€™s world, this reaction can, unfortunately, do more harm than good, as most of us no longer live in danger from wild hungry animals.
The effects of stress on the body are real. The symptoms fall into four categories: behavioral, cognitive, emotional and physical.
People react to the same situation in different ways. What might stress one person may not stress another.
During a stressful moment the pituitary gland releases a hormone called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). It tells the adrenal glands to release stress hormone into the bloodstream, which includes cortisol and adrenaline. Then several physiological changes take place, such as, heart rate and blood pressure increase, this shuts down the digestive system, and affects the immune system. Following the stressful situation, the cortisol and adrenaline return to normal levels, as well as, heart rate, blood pressure and other bodily functions.
There is a problem when these levels do not return to normal levels. Instead they remain raised from the ongoing stress of various situations. The body doesn’t get a chance to recover to its natural state. When this goes on for a long time, the stress response can disrupt all of the bodyâ€™s processes.
The immune system also takes a toll with chronic stress. It becomes weaker and less able to fend off infections. When it works properly, the immune system responds to infections by releasing chemicals to cause inflammation, in order to rid itself of the bug. But when chronic inflammation occurs from stress, degenerative diseases can begin to take over.
Stress also affects the nervous system, this causes anxiety, panic attacks, depression and dementia. The chronic release of cortisol causes damage to certain areas of the brain. This affects sleep patterns and sex drive. As heart rate and blood pressure increase it is dangerous for the cardiovascular system, as it creates potential for a heart attack or stroke.
Chiropractic is effective for a variety of pain conditions, but over the last few years, various research studies have found that chiropractic can also help improve overall health. These recent studies have shown that chiropractic can regulate immune function, heart rate, and reduce blood pressure.
Relaxed Breathing Technique (Diaphragmatic Breathing):Â Stress often leads to rapid, shallow breathing, that affects the other aspects of the stress response, i.e. increased heart rate and perspiration. Controlled breathing is an effective way of dealing with the effects of stress.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation Technique:Â The aim is to reduce tension stored in the muscles. Find a relaxed private area. Dim the lights, loosen up and get comfortable. Tense up the following muscle areas for a minimum five seconds before relaxing for 30 seconds. Repeat then move on to the next area.
Do these muscle relaxations twice a day for maximum benefit. Take 10 minutes for each session.
Exercise:Â It is a great way to release energy. Improved health, which guards against the negative effects and releases endorphinsÂ (neurotransmitters that relieve pain). Exercise helps with concentration, sleep, illness, pain and contributes to a better quality of life. Age doesnâ€™t matter, as exercise will create amazing benefits for mind and body, and remove feelings of stress.
Listen To Relaxing Soothing Sounds:Â Ten minutes alone with soothing sounds can help with relaxation. Allow the mind to get away from the accumulated stresses of the day. Meditation CD’s, soothing music or natural sounds all work to achieve a relaxed state. The choice is yours.
The information herein on "Stress Management In El Paso, TX" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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