Stress? What’s That?

You hear about it every day – so many of the common maladies suffered by our families, friends, and neighbors seem to come from stress of some kind – but what is stress, what causes it, and what can we do about it?

Let’s start by breaking it down to the three basic kinds of stress: 

Physical stress

  • Acute injuries – falls, muscle strains, sprains, car accidents, sports injuries, etc
  • Chronic injuries  – old injuries that haven’t been properly rehabilitated, scar tissue, surgeries, and other mechanical and structural problems that affect how you move on a daily basis.  
  • Poor posture – puts excess strain on joints, muscles, and ligaments, leading to “tight” muscles” in some areas, and “weak” muscles in others
  • Lack of physical activity —  leads to weakness and instability that will eventually show up when you do attempt physical activity
  • Too much movement  — repetitive strains and sprains, coupled with not giving your body time to heal (“pushing through the pain”) leads to additional wear and tear and eventually, more permanent structural damage

Chemical stress 

  • Poor nutrition — Many people are “overfed and undernourished” by chemical-laden food-like substances.  Your body uses what you eat to build and repair itself. Are you giving it the right raw materials?
  • Gut inflammation.  If your gut is inflamed, it messes with everything from your mood to your immune system function.  Your GI tract has as much (and possibly more) neurologic activity that your brain. Common causes of GI inflammation include
    • poor nutrition
    • food sensitivities — even if you “eat healthily” your body may be sensitive and have an immune reaction to some of those supposedly healthy foods
    • chronic infections associated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungal infections like candida
  • Medication use, especially antibiotics, which damage the microbes that help digest your food, and fight pathogens.   

Emotional stress  

Have you ever been worried sick?  Does thinking about someone/something (real or imagined) raise your blood pressure, give you a headache, or make your stomach hurt?  Can you look at someone and pick up on their mood or stress level by their expression, posture, energy level or “vibes”? 

Of course.  Emotional and mental stress are real and have legitimate physical signs and symptoms.  It’s not “all in your head.”    

Physical effects of emotional stress include

  • low energy
  • poor sleep – too much sleep or not enough
  • chronic inflammation leading to pain, stiffness, GI and cardiovascular symptoms
  • weight gain due to the hormonal changes associated with the fight-or-flight stress response
  • weight loss due to loss of appetite or poor eating habits triggered by stress

Stress is a normal, unavoidable part of life.  Recognizing it and learning effective and healthy coping strategies are essential to prevent the damage it can cause.   Authorities agree that about 70% of serious disease is preventable, by adopting lifestyle choices that reduce these three types of stress.  

  • Improve your diet and reduce your intake of stress-producing foods like refined sugars, fried foods, and heavy fats.  
  • Ease your mind by including meditation, prayer, yoga or some other stress-reduction technique.
  • Get yourself in shape by exercising, while minimizing your physical stress with good posture and regular chiropractic care.

Learn about these wellness principles and apply them to keep your stresses under control – if you need help or guidance, please ask Dr. Morrone!  You can save yourself a lot of unnecessary suffering and expense, and improve the quality of your life while you’re doing it!

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