Your life is full of stress! Any arguments? Didn’t think so. Your life is full of pressure, frustration, and stress. Worrying about job security, being overworked, driving in rush hour traffic, arguing with your spouse, even dealing with medical bills – all of these create stress in your life.
According to the American Psychology Association, more than half of all Americans report being concerned about the level of stress in their lives. Most people are feeling over scheduled, overextended, and overworked. By far, the most commonly reported source of stress is the workplace.
Studies suggest that stress is a contributing factor in the development of chronic and degenerative conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. High stress levels at work can lead to job burnout, reduction in productivity, ill health, job dissatisfaction, and absenteeism. As these problems add up over time, you worry more about keeping your job while your boss becomes more dissatisfied, leading to more stress and an ever-growing vicious cycle.
When you experience stress, glands within your body respond by releasing a hormone called adrenocorticotropic hormone – we’ll call it ACTH for short. When your glands send out a burst of ACTH it is like an alarm system going off within your body. ACTH tells other glands to flood your body with the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. These two hormones cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase. They shut down your digestive system and even alter your immune system. When you remove yourself from the stressful situation, the levels of cortisol and adrenaline decrease. As cortisol and adrenaline decrease in your system, your heart rate, blood pressure, digestive system and immune system return to normal.
As you pile one stressful situation on top of another, your body has no time to recover. If you are in a constant state of stress, or experience many stressful situations, your body’s stress response system can disrupt nearly all of your body’s processes. Some of the effects can lead to chronic illness and disease.
Stress affects the digestive system so much that stomachaches and diarrhea become common. The hormones related to stress slow down the release of stomach acid and the process of emptying the stomach. The same hormones stimulate your colon which speeds the passage of its contents – a.k.a diarrhea.
Chronic stress dampens your immune system making you more susceptible to colds and other infections.
Stress affects your nervous system and has been linked to depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and dementia. Over time, chronic release of cortisol can even cause damage to several structures in the brain.
Stress affects your cardiovascular system by causing an increase in heart rate and blood pressure and increasing the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
Unlike most other diseases that affect Americans, there really isn’t any routine medical treatment for stress. Some doctors prescribe antidepressants. But drugs have a limited ability to alleviate stress.
The most effective way to reduce or relieve stress is through lifestyle habits.
Lifestyle habits such as spinal alignment, exercise, breathing exercises and coping strategies are the most effective ways to reduce stress.
Exercise is a good way to deal with stress because it is a healthy way to relieve your pent-up energy and tension. By getting physically active, you can decrease your levels of anxiety and stress, and elevate your moods. Numerous studies show that people who exercise exhibit a marked improvement in their ability to concentrate, sleep better, suffer fewer illnesses, suffer from pain less, and report a higher quality of life.
One of the consequences of stress is a tendency to unconsciously tense up your muscles, especially in your upper back and shoulder regions. This chronic tension, coupled with poor posture, causes the vertebrae of your spine to become misaligned. Misalignment causes irritation. Irritation causes more tension. More tension causes greater misalignment. And the cycle continues and you continue to get worse. Most people experience a notable improvement in their own stress levels almost immediately after a spinal adjustment. You can reduce your level of stress by visiting your local chiropractor to have a spinal adjustment.
There are two types of nutritional supplements. There are nutritional supplements that help reduce stress and there are nutritional supplements that help the body better cope with the effects of stress. Supplements that help reduce stress belong to a class of herbs that helps the body relax. Herbs such as chamomile, skullcap, valerian, and lavender help to clear your mind and calm intense emotions. Many of these herbs are taken in the form of a hot or warm tea.
Supplements that help the body cope with the physical effects of stress are the B-vitamins and zinc. When you experience stress, your body needs more zinc and more of the Vitamin-B complex. Your health suffers and you are more prone to illness when you don’t have enough of each in your body. Taking a B-complex with zinc in the form of a liquid nutritional supplement will help protect your body from the negative effects of stress.
The final key to treating stress is healthy thinking. Most stress is caused by two factors – dealing with change and feeling out of control. While you can’t predict the changes that will occur in your life, you can – control how you plan each day, – you can positively respond to change, and – you can act with purpose.
The combination of these three positive thinking habits can help remove stress from your life and diminish the effects of stress. These three simple ‘attitude adjustments’ will help you feel more in control and once adopted as a habit, can be quite relaxing.
Don’t let prolonged or repeated episodes of stress lead you to chronic or degenerative disease like diabetes or heart disease. Lifestyle habits such as spinal alignment, exercise, breathing exercises and coping strategies are the most effective ways you can reduce stress and the effects of stress on your body.