Have you ever felt overwhelmed by life? Do you suffer from unexplained headaches, muscle tension, or general pain? Are you more tired than you used to be? Has your sex drive decreased? Trouble sleeping?
These symptoms, and many others, can be the result of too much stress or anxiety in your life. Psychology Today calls stress “The Silent Killer.” That is because too much stress over a prolonged period of time can literally kill you.
But stress and its symptoms are not merely inconveniences. Stress can be both the indicator and cause of many, more serious health problems.
Too often we accept multi-tasking, long hours, slumping in an office chair, and catching meals on the run as the price of success. But these behaviours can also lead to dangerous consequences.
At Canberra Spine Centre, we recommend meditation and chiropractic as practical and economical approaches to helping to relieve stress and anxiety, leading to an overall better quality of life.
What Causes Stress?
Firstly, it may be useful to explain the ‘stress response’ – what is actually going on in your body when you are suffering from ‘stress’. This is a natural physiological response in the body when you perceive some form of danger or threat. You’ve all heard of the term, ‘fight or flight’. Well, that’s exactly what the stress response is – preparing your body to respond to danger. Among the many physiological changes that occur in the body as part of the stress response are: increased heart rate and blood pressure; increased blood sugars and triglicerides; increased muscle tone; movement of blood from away from the organs (eg. Digestion) to the periphery (eg. Muscles); altered concentration; and altered pain perception. In the short-term, the stress response is appropriate and helpful. But long-term stress response can have serious effects on your health.
The underlying causes of stress are known as stressors. Stressors are factors in our lives that may be positive or negative. Some “bad” things, like overwork, interpersonal tension, or economic worries can cause stress. But so can “good” things, such as food we like, hard work, or watching your favorite team play. Additionally, stressors can come from the outside world or from within us.
External sources of stress include:
- Unhappy work situations (too much work, too much responsibility, etc.)
- Performance anxiety
- Financial obligations
- Family pressures
- Traumatic events
Internal sources of stress include:
- Health problems
- Damage/pain, especially chronic.
- Emotional difficulties (depression, low self-esteem, grief)
- Fear and uncertainty
- Unrealistic expectations
How Does Meditation Help?
Meditation decreases stress and anxiety by improving mental, physical, and emotional health.
Specifically, meditation has been proven to strengthen the brain by increasing the size of specific areas of the brain. Research also indicates the possibility that meditation can decrease brain-shrinkage due to aging. In one study reported by the US National Institute of Health, 50-year-old meditators had the same amount of gray matter in their brain as the average 25-year-old.
Those who practice meditation also point to elevated levels of consciousness, decreased focus on insignificant worries, and increased mental focus.
Meditation has powerful physical effects as well. Studies have shown meditation to have a host of beneficial health effects. Meditation supports the circulatory system by lowering blood pressure and boosting heart function.
According to a scholarly survey in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science meditation has also been shown to have positive effects on the human immune system. Meditation also decreases symptoms of chronic gastric distress and psoriasis.
Finally, meditation is also a balm for the psyche, as studies show that it can also reduce pain and stress by altering how the brain processes them. A healthy mind in a healthy body is the best way to drive off stress and its associated symptoms.
Steps to Resolving Stress Issues
1. Take a time-out.
- Practice yoga to stretch your muscles and relax.
- Listen to music.
- Get a chiropractic adjustment and massage.
- Learn a variety of relaxation techniques (eg progressive relaxation, biofeedback, breathing exercises).
2. Eat well-balanced meals.
- Don’t skip meals.
- Keep healthy and energy-boosting snacks nearby.
- Reduce intake of sugar, salt, and highly processed foods.
- Include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can increase anxiety and stress.
3. Get enough sleep.
- Try to develop a regular sleep pattern.
- Refrain from using electronic-screen devices before bedtime.
- Make sure to get enough sleep every night.
4. Stay physically fit.
- Exercise regularly.
- Stay limber through regular stretching.
- Ensure your body is in alignment
Chiropractic Care Can Help
Chiropractors practice a holistic health approach by focusing on the entire person with the most natural and least invasive methods. Canberra Spine Centre assists in raising people’s level of health by treating underlying causes instead of focusing on surface symptoms. We approach stress and tension issues in the same way.
The stress response can be produced and exacerbated by structural dysfunction of the spine called vertebral subluxations (misaligned vertebrae interfering with nervous system function). These structural defects can limit mobility and flexibility, irritate the nervous system, lead to generally lower levels of physical health, and increased stress. Chiropractors are expertly trained to identify and treat various misalignments by means of gentle chiropractic adjustments.
While stress response can be produced from external influences, your body’s internal environment can also contribute greatly. When spinal segments are misaligned and not moving through a full range of motion (vertebral subluxations), this increases nociceptive input (pain-type messages causes by increased damage and inflammation) to the brain, while reducing mechanoreceptor input (movement related messages fired up to the brain from sensors located in muscles, ligaments and tendons around the spine) to the brain. This has the effect of producing or exacerbating the stress response in the body. At Canberra Spine Centre, we find many of our patients show signs of reduced levels of stress (better ability to sleep, better concentration, improved digestion and immune function, lower blood pressure and less anxiety and depression) as their spine and nervous system function improves.
Chiropractic adjustments reduce stress by …
- Relaxing and re-aligning muscles in the neck, shoulders, and back
- Increasing mechanoreceptor input from better spinal motion unwinds the stress response.
- Decreasing nociceptor input to the brain from less damage and inflammation helps decrease the stress response.
Get help with Stress and Anxiety at Canberra Spine Centre today!
At Canberra Spine Centre, we specialise in a holistic, non-invasive treatment for a variety of health issues, including stress and anxiety. We seek to identify the source of your stressors and reduce both your internal and external stress load so that your physiology can return to as normal as possible.
Help us help you. Canberra Spine Centre provides comprehensive, effective treatments suited to your individual needs and personal circumstances.
Call today (02 6257 9400) to receive our special offer for an overall examination and consultation.