We live in a very interesting time in the world. There are events happening that we have never seen before. Change can often bring about stress—the good kind or even the bad. Stress is a necessary part of life. It helps us focus better and to be more productive. Stress helps us grow. Muscles and bones need stress in order to become stronger. Overcoming job-related stress can help us become better leaders and contributors at work. Stress is a vital part of life and we could not grow as a society without it.
How much is too much?
Like many things in life, too much of one thing is not always the best. Too much sunshine increases our risk for skin cancer. Too much sugar can lead to diabetes and heart disease. Is there such a thing as too much stress? The answer is an obvious yes! When we allow too much stress in our lives, our bodies begin to break down in many ways.
Stress in the human body
During any period of stress (physical, emotional, or mental) the body will try to adapt. For example: if you are walking in the woods and come across a bear, your body would go into “fight or flight” mode. On a chemical level, the body releases hormones to create a cascade of events to elevate your senses and improve physical performance. One important chemical that is released is cortisol. Cortisol will temporarily increase the glucose (sugar) in your blood to fuel your muscles so you can run fast. It will also increase your heart rate to allow you to pump more blood to your extremities. These things will help you get as far away from the bear as possible. What happens if this “fight or flight” system never shuts off?
Too much stress creates problems
We live in a society that is full of stress. Temporary increases in stress are good for our bodies. However, when we let this stress go on for too long we start to see adverse changes in the body. Long-standing increases in the stress hormone cortisol have been known to increase fat storage and insulin resistance, create high blood pressure, and decrease your immune system function. Have you ever been really stressed at work or home and found yourself getting sick? This is likely one of the reasons why that happened. Too much cortisol in the body leads to increased inflammation, which will then decrease your immune support system. This decreased immune function will then again increase inflammation—a vicious cycle.
Three simple suggestions to decrease stress
The following steps have been proven to decrease stress and inflammation in your body:
This point may seem obvious, but eating a proper diet is vital for your well-being. If you have a high-performance vehicle, would you fuel it with the lowest-performing gasoline? Of course not! All of our bodies have the capability of a high-performance vehicle. We should fuel it with proper nutrients that will keep us performing at our best.
Proper nutrition also decreases inflammation in the body. More inflammation can lead to increased cortisol. Increased cortisol can lead to an overtaxed immune system. Drinking plenty of water, decreasing consumption of processed foods while increasing our consumption of healthy fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help strengthen our immune system.
Making sure you are taking care of your mental health is equally important to decrease stress in your life. Participating in activities such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises can shift our focus away from stress. Reading positive literature, strengthening relationships with others, listening to uplifting music, and taking time to laugh are all positive steps towards improving your mental health.
Keeping your body moving during times of stress is vital. No matter the intensity, exercise has the ability to decrease stress in the body. Exercise also releases endorphins. Endorphins are hormones released in your body that help reduce your perception of pain.
Pain is a known stressor to the body. Increased pain as well as the fear of creating more pain in the body can increase cortisol. For this reason, chiropractic care continues to be essential for our health and well-being. Keeping the body pain free and moving in the way it is intended to move will help decrease stress.
If you are having any muscle and joint aches or pains in your body, it is important to visit your chiropractor to keep your body moving so you can decrease any stress you may be experiencing.
About Elite Chiropractic & Performance Center
Located just outside of Salt Lake City and in the heart of the Salt Lake Valley, Elite Chiropractic & Performance Center is the premier chiropractic office in Utah. Drs. Monte Layton, Jeremy Wimmer, Chris Harbrecht, and Jordan Mousley specialize in providing care for many different conditions and injuries. Those in the community seek Elite’s care for low back pain, neck pain, as well as shoulder, knee, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, ankle, and foot pain. Call today to schedule your first appointment. 801-432-7511.