Chronic stress is a continued and constant feeling of stress that negatively affects the body’s health if left untreated. It is caused by everyday pressures from work, family, or trauma, but instead of calming down and going back to a neutral demeanor, the worry and anxiety keep going. Chronic stress happens when the body experiences stressors to an intense degree, that the nervous system is not able to activate the relaxation response regularly.
Normal stress is an essential part of the body’s fight or flight response that keeps an individual safe from danger and ensures survival when something threatening occurs. If the stress becomes chronic and is not managed appropriately it can be detrimental causing or exacerbating serious health problems that include:
- Mental health problems
- Cardiovascular disease/s
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Heart attack
This affects almost every system in the body, directly and indirectly. The body can handle acute/short-term stress, but not chronic stress. Despite how chronic stress can damage overall health, chiropractic can bring the body back into balance and help manage the stress.
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Chronic Stress Health
There are a variety of factors that can lead to the onset of chronic stress and include:
- Mental health problems related to depression, anxiety, etc
- Traumatic events like natural disasters, automobile accidents, injuries
- Caring for a family member or elder that is sick
- Continued exposure to negativity from social media, news, etc
- Chronic blue light exposure from electronic devices
- Unhealthy habits related to poor sleep, unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise
- Chronic illness
- Having no stress management techniques or unhealthy coping methods
The body is not meant to be in a constant state of stress, as it does not allow the body to repair itself and rest properly. This can lead to the breakdown of cellular processes, and proper organ functions, and lead to disease. Chronic stress has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and depression.
It is not easy to recognize chronic stress. This is because of its long-lasting nature that individuals get so accustomed to it that it becomes normal. Symptoms to look for when identifying chronic stress:
- Mood fluctuations and/or irritability
- Always worrying about something
- No time to take care of oneself or take part in enjoyable activities
- Little inconveniences become too much to handle
- Constantly getting colds or infections
- Rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms like junk food, or alcohol to manage the stress
The ability to properly manage chronic stress is crucial for achieving optimal health. Management can be simple and straightforward. Options for management include:
- Healthy diet
- Sleep improvement
- Regular physical activity
- Relaxation techniques like massage and heat therapy
- Time management skills improvement
- Reduced screen exposure specifically at night
- Less time on social media
- Mindfulness practices like meditation
The techniques listed address reducing the external cues that affect internal health brought on by the stress response. Addressing internal imbalances will help the body return to a state of homeostasis. A common underlying imbalance that contributes to chronic stress is spinal misalignment. This is a root cause that could be over-activating the stress response which limits the body’s ability to return to a relaxed state.
Spinal misalignment/s hinders the nervous system’s ability to regulate the body’s stress response. This is due to improper nerve signaling and poor blood, and energy flow. Chiropractic is a research-oriented, science-based natural medical approach that specializes in addressing spinal issues. It gets the body’s natural healing ability to activate returning the body’s natural state of balance.
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Abdallah, Chadi G, and Paul Geha. “Chronic Pain and Chronic Stress: Two Sides of the Same Coin?.” Chronic stress (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) vol. 1 (2017): 2470547017704763. doi:10.1177/2470547017704763
The information herein on "Chiropractic For Chronic Stress Relief" 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 healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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