The Stress of Stress

This last Monday I was fortunate to give a talk to a group of patients about the effects of chronic stress. I knew that those attending obviously came due to the large amount of stress in their lives. I would also gather that each probably knew at least one thing they could have been doing already to lower their stress. The question is…why aren’t they doing that?

So, instead of just simply saying stress is bad, throwing out a few statistics, and ending with some stress-busting tips that I’m sure they had all heard a hundred times….I chose to show them, step-by-step, exactly how stress is related to some MAJOR lifestyle diseases.

First of all, let me preface by saying that chronic stress is worse than ever for the people of the world. While our great, great ancestors (5000 years+) only had a stressful moment here and there. Basically fighting off predators or sprinting after food, then having the rest of the day to relax and enjoy life or gather other food. We are subjecting ourselves with stress nearly 24 hours a day. We fall asleep thinking about all that needs to be done and wake up, tired and stressed about everything that we, or our children have to get done. It’s madness! Instead of peaks and valleys of stress, we have peaks and more peaks.

“Chronic stress affects functions at all levels, and what is particularly worth noting as we wind our way through a review of this topic is that regardless of the level of the system under consideration, the basic theme is the same: chronic stress produces a set of adaptive responses and these responses, however necessary, can ultimately serve to impair out own health and well-being.”

– Meaney, M. PhD. 2001 Stress and Disease: Who Gets Sick, Who Stays Well. Cortext Educational Seminars.

Stress is more than just a feeling. It has implications towards our health; or rather, lack of health.

Stress has three main categories: 1) physical, 2) mental/emotional, or 3) chemical. Name anything you stress about and you can easily fit it into one or more of these categories. Let’s think of a few:

Traffic: mental/emotional

Work stress: mental/emotional and probably physical if you’re sitting poorly

Bad diet: chemical – lots of preservatives and not a lot of “good” stuff

Pain: physical and mental/emotional

Subluxation: physical and chemical – Subluxation is a chiropractic term and it has two categories of stress on the body: Physical/structural: which causes pain, osteoarthritis, muscle weakness, numbness and tingling. There is also the neurochemical portion which means that chemically it will begin the stress response cycle. A subluxation will cause pain signals (not at a level you feel) to signal the brain to start the stress response. Motion is the only way to override this signal. As a chiropractor helps your spine move more efficiently, this sends movement signals to your brain to override