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De-Mystifying Stress

Posted Nov 17 2012 10:07pm

Everyone is talking about stress these days, how it’s the root of all sorts of problems, physically, emotionally, spiritually. People blame it for their aches and pains, their poor work conditions, their relationship mishaps. It takes the brunt of so much, but what is it?

Stress is not a diagnosis or condition. You don’t catch it or end up with it. In fact, it’s not even really good or bad! And the sooner we can understand that part of it, the sooner we can use it as a tool, instead of being victims of it.

Stress is most often deemed negative, and anything that pulls the body from its natural homeostatic balance could be considered stress. Physical stress can include injuries from sports, car accidents, falls, or even repetitive motions such as from sleeping positions, driving or working. Emotional stress can stem from relationships (work, family, romantic, friendship, etc), responsibilities at home, work or school, financial troubles or limitations. Chemical stress can result from the air that we breathe, and anything that we put into or onto our bodies, including food, drinks, medications, and/or cosmetics. It’s easy to see how a build-up of these negative stresses could potentially affect a person!

However, if we look at these things objectively, we can realize an important concept: we have a lot of control over these stresses themselves, and how our bodies respond to them! Many of these stresses are not going anywhere: there will always be repetitive motions that we do with sleeping, driving or working; there will always be relationships in our lives; there will always be considerations with the air that we breathe and what we put into our bodies.

So with this new understanding of stress, let’s take two steps.

Step 1: Evaluate the stresses in your life that you have control over, and make changes. For example, limit sports injuries by stretching and strengthening appropriately for you and your body; avoid repetitive injuries by improving ergonomics for sleeping, driving and working; employ communication strategies to improve relationships; set a realistic budget to live within your financial means; limit your toxic exposure by paying attention to the air that you’re breathing and what you’re putting into and onto your body.

Step 2: Optimize your body’s function so that it can better handle the stress that it does encounter! A healthy body is less likely to get injured or sick, and can heal better when it does get injured or sick. Completing step #1 will point you in the right direction to optimizing body function, and then the final step is to make an appointment with your chiropractor in order to make sure that your body is functioning properly. That’s right, chiropractors can assess whether or not your body is functioning optimally, and if it’s not, can help to make sure that it does!

So the next time you’re tempted to complain about stress, remind yourself that you have a choice! You can simply complain about the effects of stress, or you can make some changes to minimize negative stress and maximize your body’s ability to deal with it. The choice is yours!

By Dr. Lauren Clum, DC , The Specific Chiropractic Center, Oakland, CA

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