By Dr. Ron Bittle
Modern life is full of pressure, stress and frustration. Worrying about your job security, being overworked, driving in rush-hour traffic, arguing with your spouse — all these create stress. According to a recent survey by the American Psychology Association, fifty-four percent of Americans are concerned about the level of stress in their everyday lives and two-thirds of Americans say they are likely to seek help for stress.
You may feel physical stress as the result of too much to do, not enough sleep, a poor diet or the effects of an illness. Stress can also be mental: when you worry about money, a loved one’s illness, retirement, or experience an emotionally devastating event, such as the death of a spouse or being fired from work.
However, much of our stress comes from less dramatic everyday responsibilities. Obligations and pressures which are both physical and mental are not always obvious to us. In response to these daily strains your body automatically increases blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, metabolism, and blood flow to your muscles. This response is intended to help your body react quickly and effectively to a high-pressure situation.
How stress affects your body
Stress releases certain hormones like cortisol into the bloodstream, which tells the body to store fat. Yes, stress causes weight gain! In men, the fat deposited from stress is most often in the gut or mid section while in women it is deposited around the thighs and buttocks.
Stress also causes the various systems in the body like the circulatory system and digestive system to go completely out of whack. In response to stress your body automatically increases blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, metabolism, and blood flow to your muscles. This response is intended to help your body react quickly and effectively to a high-pressure situation.
Chronic stress tends to dampen your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds and other infections.
After decades of research, it is clear that the negative effects associated with stress are real. Although you may not always be able to avoid stressful situations, there are a number of things that you can do to reduce the effect that stress has on your body. The first is relaxation. Learning to relax doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some simple techniques to help get you started on your way to tranquility.
# 3 Relaxed breathing
Practice this basic technique twice a day, every day, and whenever you feel tense. Follow these steps:
- Inhale. With your mouth closed and your shoulders relaxed, inhale as slowly and deeply as you can to the count of six. As you do that, push your stomach out. Allow the air to fill your diaphragm.
- Hold. Keep the air in your lungs as you slowly count to four.
- Exhale. Release the air through your mouth as you slowly count to six.
- Repeat. Complete the inhale-hold-exhale cycle three to five times 3 times per day.
# 2 Massage & Chiropractic Adjustments
The number one goal of a chiropractic adjustment is to reduce stress in the body. Just like when the mind is stressed and it effects the body in negative ways, when the body is stressed, not only do we get physical symptoms, the body also effects the mind in negative ways. So the key is to break this cycle by removing physical stress from the muscles, joints and nerves through gentle adjustments to the body. By calming the body in this manner, the nervous system stops sending frantic messages to the brain and the body and mind will then relax. Getting a complimentary stress evaluation at Dr. Bittles office may be just what you need start living stress free again.
# 1 Exercise
Exercise is a good way to deal with stress because it is a healthy way to relieve your pent-up energy and tension. It also helps you get in better shape, which makes you feel better overall. By getting physically active, you can decrease your levels of anxiety and stress and elevate your moods. Numerous studies have shown that people who begin exercise programs, either at home or at work, demonstrate a marked improvement in their ability to concentrate, are able to sleep better, suffer from fewer illnesses, suffer from less pain and report a much higher quality of life than those who do not exercise. This is even true of people who had not begun an exercise program until they were in their 40s, 50s, 60s or even 70s. So if you want to feel better and improve your quality of life, get active!
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