Have the pressure and tension of 2020 affected your body? Greenville chiropractors, Dr. Megan Afshar Martins and Dr. Lindsey Merritt, discuss what you can do to relieve the physical effects of stress.
The Physical Effects of Stress (of all sizes)
No matter the source, our body basically has the same physiological response to stressors. This includes emotional, mental, physical and chemical sources.
So being stuck in traffic causes the same, though smaller, response as being chased by a predator. This response has been called “fight or flight” mode, or a sympathetic nervous system response.
When stressed, your body will…
- release Cortisol and other hormones
- shut down digestion
- suppress the immune system
- turn off any nonessential functions
When your body undergoes this every day, it can lose its ability to adapt and switch out of “fight or flight” to turn back on all of these important “rest and digest” functions.
What Chronic Stress Does to Your Spine
You’ve been in this stressful job, hunched over a computer for years. A relationship has been a source of conflict for far too long and you carry it all in your tense shoulders.
Your body actually starts to take on a defensive stance when stressed, rolling your shoulders in to make you more compact. This mimics a fetal position, instead of a relaxed, confident, extended posture.
We easily recognize a hunched, defeated posture as unhealthy. Instead of just seeing a humped back, rolled shoulders and forward head just in the elderly, chiropractors are increasingly seeing it in teenagers.
This forward head posture is also known as “text neck,” because it can be caused by our habit of looking down at our phones and devices.
When you’re in this posture day after day, it puts more pressure on the spine, pulling vertebrae out of alignment. It’s a chronic physical stressor that causes a microtrauma over time, causing your body to be in a “fight or flight” state.
How a chiropractic adjustment reduces stress
When chiropractors correct the vertebral misalignments that contribute to poor posture, it helps to counteract the effects of stress.
A chiropractic adjustment also deals with the nervous system, which in turn controls every other system.
When your vertebrae are misaligned, they put pressure on the nerves of the spinal cord, decreasing their function as they send and receive signals to every part of the body. A specific adjustment removes that pressure and improves communication so the body can heal naturally.
Both your “fight or flight” and “rest and digest” responses are controlled by your nervous system. When you’re in alignment, you can be more balanced, without being stuck in either response.
During our first exam, we often tell new practice members that people who are under regular care with us see improvement in…
- Better sleep
- Better bowel function
- Better immune system function
- Better menstrual cycles for women
All of these are “rest and digest” functions that are reduced when you’re in a stressed state.
Physical Effects of Stress at Upstate Specific Chiropractic
As an office based on upper cervical adjustments, Dr. Megan and Dr. Lindsey do a neurological scan, usually on anyone over the age of about 10, whenever they come into the office.
They do this because the upper cervical vertebrae surround the part of the brain that manages many functions, including your stress responses.
Dr. Megan explained, “that gives us a window into how their nervous system is functioning. So if there’s tension or pressure, if something is misaligned up at the top of their neck, it lets us know if their nervous system is turning off and on the way…that it’s supposed to.”
In March 2020, when South Carolina started a “shelter in place” order, 95% of the people that Dr. Megan checked had an upper cervical subluxation. After checking and adjusting 30 people, Dr. Megan was amazed to see the data of how so much stress was showing up in everyone’s nervous systems.
Often, the reverse is true as well – after people have had a long weekend of rest, fewer need an upper cervical adjustment. There’s a connection; less emotional stress and more rest has a positive impact on your physical state!
This is one reason why Upstate Specific Chiropractic uses objective tests to see how the nervous system is functioning.
A positive attitude and maintaining hope are huge for your health! Dr. Lindsey and Dr. Megan saw this in their practice members in Greenville, SC.
Even the people who have suffered setbacks and difficulties adapted to them better with a hopeful mindset of seeing a challenge instead of being defeated.
“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe,” said Albert Einstein. Choosing a grateful outlook and to focus on joy will reduce our stress levels.
Going back to the basics of good health–like getting outside, exercising, enjoying loved ones and pets– will help us to relax, mind and body.
Getting adjusted helps the body to adapt, because sometimes we do need the cortisol and adrenaline to respond to danger in traffic or any other danger.
A well-adjusted spine and clear nervous system help you switch back into rest when you need to as well. Chiropractic helps you adapt and overcome the stress, instead of succumbing to it!
To find out how chiropractic can help your family, CLICK HERE to schedule a FREE consultation in Greenville, SC.