The Stress in America survey results show that adults continue to report high levels of stress and that their levels of stress have increased over the past year. From children to the elderly, everyone is constantly bombarded with stress in various shapes and sizes. Now it's at a point where stress has become a natural part of life. We have grown to accept it.
But are we really learning to adapt to this ever-growing levels of stress? Or are we simply in denial?
Stress is a top health concern in many countries and it poses many long-term health implications. The National Institutes of Mental Health states that approximately 1 out of 75 people may experience panic disorder some point in their lives!
Now that can't be normal.
If you think back, our ancestors did not have to worry about so many things like we do today. The traffic jam on the way to your work, watching the stocks you've purchased plummet, and the bills that may be piling up in your letter box. Even from the most trivial things in life, we can be almost certain that, we are exposed to stress more than ever before.
Psychologist Graham Price states that "adults today are more self-obsessed and worry about their daily lives than those who lived through the Blitz, despite the fact they don't have to worry about bombs, blackouts and rationing." He comments further by adding that "today's adults spend twice as much time fretting about lives as those who lived through the Blitz."
DNA evidence today shows genetically, that humans have hardly changed at all. To be specific, the human genome has changed less than 0.002% in the past 40,000 years. So our bodies haven't changed at all, but our stress levels have risen exponentially.
This brings up the next question: has our inability to appropriately adapt to stress lead to the increased frequency and prevalence of disease today?
Stress wreaks havoc on both the mind and body.
A research team led by Carnegie Mellon University's Sheldon Cohen has found that chronic stress is associated with the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response. Stress was found to be associated with greater risks for depression, heart diseases and infectious diseases.
Inflammation is a process that is always present in our bodies. Even foods that we consume cause inflammation! This makes having the regulatory processes in check vital. Acute inflammation is a healthy physiological process that accompanies your body's natural ways of healing. Chronic inflammation on the other hand, is closely linked to a series of degenerative diseases including, atherosclerosis, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, allergies and cancer (and more!)
For some of us, stress has become a normal part of life. As stress becomes a normal routine in our lives, it's detrimental effects on our health becomes chronic. Besides its close association to diseases, stress is also known to activate the sympathetic nervous system, also known as the Fight-or-Flight. Under stress, our body starts to secrete corticosteroids, epinephrine and norepinephrine. Eventually, neurological changes occur in certain parts of the brain resulting in impairments in working memory, spatial memory and increased aggression. Stress kills. Learning to cope with your stress is not enough, we must evolve and adapt to it.
Fight-or-Flight VS Rest-and-Digest
Did you know that your body cannot grow/regenerate and be ready to fight at the same time?
Your body cannot be in two different states at once. Either you're in rest-and-digest mode (parasympathetic nervous system) where your body devotes its energy and resources for digestion, repair and regeneration, or you're in fight-or-flight mode (sympathetic nervous system) as your body prepares you to face danger.
When we are under stress, our body responds by activating the sympathetic nervous system, the fight-or-flight mode. The problem is this, we are under stress everyday! This means that our bodies are essentially in 24/7 alert mode, readying to fight, instead of promoting growth and regeneration.
As mentioned before, learning to cope with stress is not going to be enough. This means that those yoga classes and listening to calm music isn't going to get you far. What you need is to reset your brain and the nervous system.
Chiropractic Improves Nerve Function
Did you know that getting your spine adjusted resets the brain?
Your spine is the extension of the brain and a part of the central nervous system. Here are the links for those of you who are not familiar as to what a chiropractor can offer you and you can see the astonishing x-ray results here.
A study performed in 2011 (by a group of 8 PhD's and 1 chiropractor in the journal of Alternative Therapies Health Medicine) revealed that a single chiropractic adjustment can inhibit the sympathetic nervous system, decrease in salivary amylase (indicating a decrease in fight-or-flight physiology) along with decrease in muscle tone and pain intensity. All this after a single chiropractic adjustment! (See literature: Ogura 2011).
What this means that chiropractic can physiologically change your body and mind from a state of fight-or-flight to rest-and-digest. This is not a matter of learning to cope with stress, but it's a way of fundamentally changing the physiology of your body to effectively adapt to stress.
Another study discussed by Dr. Dan Sullivan at the Chiropractic Advocate shows the power of a single chiropractic adjustment and its effect on our physiology. The picture below shows MRI picking up brightly coloured spots in a subject's brain. These spots represent certain areas of the brain where they are responsible for adapting to stress.
Notice any difference between the left and the right set of images?
The left was taken when a person was introduced to a stress, and the results show that the entire brain is 'lit up'. The right was taken when the same stress was applied but with a chiropractic adjustment, look how much calmer it looks. The important thing is that the actual source of stress was the same, with a single chiropractic adjustment, his body was able to adapt to stress more effectively.
It's Time to Evolve And Adapt
Over generations, our genetic makeup hasn't changed at all, yet our living circumstances and lifestyle have. Adaptation and how you respond to change is important. Chiropractic has been helping millions of people worldwide achieve their full potential for over 100 years. The power of chiropractic adjustment far exceeds stress-relief, found out for yourself.