Upper Cervical Care Can Reduce Stress
Stress is something that we all deal with on a regular basis and can come in many forms. For some people, stress may seem to be the result of the constant, day to day busy-ness. For others, it may seem to come from a stressful living situation, a difficult job, a relationship that is a lot of work, sleepless nights, or unrelenting pain.
People with excessive stress tend to have more systemic inflammation leading to more chronic conditions. People suffering from this often have their family activities, social life, hobbies, and work disrupted. Often people with mismanaged stress or excessive stress turn to unhealthy coping mechanism which again compounds the effects to the entire body.
Pain can also get in the way of stress relief.
Research shows that patients with chronic pain often complain of having problems with regular cognitive functioning. Patients have reported a numerous complaints that included anxiety, low quality of sleep, digestive troubles, lack of energy, headaches and depression. Patients report that they tend to be forgetful, become involved in minor accidents, have difficulty concluding errands or tasks and are attention deficit. This only shows that the presence of pain gets in the way of having a better quality of life.
The nervous system is the master control panel of our body. An optimal communication between the body and the brain helps with stress reduction and management. An injured, damaged, or less than optimal functioning nervous system can increase the effects of stress on the body. This is where upper cervical chiropractic helps!
Stress can be obvious, for example tense shoulders, headaches, and worry, there are also hidden effects of the stress response. Here’s a brief physiology lesson:
The autonomic nervous system is the part of our body which is responsible for coordinating all of our body functions that we don’t consciously control. This includes, among many other things, digestion, growth, immunity, breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.
This part of the nervous system is split into two parts: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system, and only one of these systems can be dominant at any point in time. (Hang with me here, I won’t get too medical in my language, and it’s pretty interesting!)
The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “rest and digest” state. When this system is activated, it focuses your energy on digestion, healing, and immunity – the day to day things that are responsible for your long term health.
On the other hand, the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight” response. That may sound familiar to you. Picture yourself, fifty thousand years ago, running for your life from a saber tooth tiger. What does your body do? It prepares your body to fight, or to run. Your heart rate and blood pressure increases so that you can get more blood to your muscles. You may have felt this before when you’ve been in a stressful situation. Blood sugar levels rise because sugar is fuel for your muscles. The blood vessels to your muscles dilate so that more blood can go to those areas, and the blood vessels to all of your organs constrict so that your energy (blood) can be used more efficiently.
At the same time, when your sympathetic nervous system is active, the parasympathetic nervous system gets turned off, because while you’re running from that saber tooth tiger, things like growing, digesting and healing, are not all that important.
The problem occurs when we live in a stressed “fight or flight” state most of the time. This state is meant to be short lived – you run from the saber tooth tiger, then the chase stops, and you return to gathering berries and looking for your next meal. When we live in a stressed state all or most of the time, our digestion suffers, our immune system becomes compromised, and our blood pressure rises along with our blood sugar. It’s why some people feel they have to have a bowel movement before or after something scary happens. It’s why you may be sick more often when you’re under a lot of stress. It’s why an old injury just won’t seem to heal.
These are real, physiological responses to stress!
How can upper cervical chiropractic care help against stress?
Research shows that head, neck, emotional or chemical traumas can be responsible for stress. A study revealed that the trauma increases the risk of getting stress and upper cervical care can help reverse it by reducing irritation to the nerves in the central nervous system. Proper alignment of the neck helps balance the autonomic nervous system – which is responsible for the “fight or flight” mechanism that was discussed earlier. When an upper cervical chiropractor restores alignment to your neck and balances your body’s posture, you are able to lessen the harmful effects of stress. An optional functioning nervous system is able to better calm the “fight or flight” response and can protect your body from the pain associated with stress.
TIPS for stress management!
- Exercise: The American Heart Association says 30 minutes per day reduces stress and decreases cardiovascular disease.
- Meditate: Whether you use self-hypnosis, breathing techniques, prayer or spending time in nature, mediation is excellent for reducing stress and its negative effects.
- Sing in the Shower: Singing in the shower has been showing to decrease stress, improve memory, increase immunity and prep you for the next America’s Got Talent audition.
- Get evaluated by an upper cervical specific chiropractor. That’s what we do at Intelligent Balance, but if you know someone who is not in the area, we are happy to help you find someone somewhere else!