Between the damage which occured from Hurricane Sandy, the power outages, and the elections next week, America is in a time of high stress. How are you dealing with your stress? Stress not only impacts our daily lives but has a large impact on our health.
When your body is in a state of stress, extra hormones such as Cortisol, Epinephrine, and Nor-epinephrine are released from your Adrenal glands (right above your kidneys) to prepare your body for the stressor or "danger". These hormones quickly elevate your blood pressure, blood sugar, increase heart rate, and cause our bodies to be more tense in order to react and remove ourselves from the danger.
Unfortunately for us, most stress nowadays is not caused by physical threats. We aren't running from prey or someone trying to harm us (which is why these hormones are released). Most of our stress is due to emotional, mental, or financial stress. This means, while we are looking at pictures from hurricane damage, worrying about how a new or re-election of the US president will affect our economy and lives, these hormones are still being released! Chronic stress is linked to intestinal disorders, cardiovascular diseases, immune disorders, cellular damage to our DNA, and let's face it, it makes us age quicker!
So how can we manage stress so it doesn't affect our health?
1. Breathe Breathe Breathe. Close your eyes and take deep breaths in from your abdomen through your nose, and breath out slowly from your mouth. This will naturally slow down your heart rate and calm you down.
2. Stretch. If you are stressed and sitting at a computer all day, stand up and have a big stretch! Reach your arms to the ceiling, let your head drop back, and take a deep breath. Release the breath and let your arms reach towards the floor. Repeat this a few times. This will help with increase blood flow and release some energy.
3. Sit up Tall! It's natural when we are stressed that we sit in a flexed or shoulders rolled forward position (such as a fetal position) to protect ourselves. The opposite position will help to change your physiology immediately! Sit up tall, allowing your chest to elevate, bring your shoulders down and back, let your palms open up. This automatically tells your brain and your neck muscles to relax.
4.Visualize Letting Go. Some stress is just out of our control. Agonizing about how you can fix it or how it will affect you is going to drive up the release of stress hormones. Visualize yourself holding a balloon filled with all your stress and setting it free up into the sky. (yes this sounds silly, but visualizing a stress release can be very powerful!)
5. Take Some Time Away From The Stress. Take Care of Yourself. Go schedule an afternoon massage, take a run, go out with family or friends for some laughs!
6. Get Adjusted! When you go to your chiropractor, do they talk about how adjustments affect your nervous system? Wouldn't it make sense to go when your stressed since that's an excitement to the nervous system?! Pelvic and Neck adjustments can help calm down that "fight or flight response" by triggering your relaxation nervous system called the Parasympathetic Nervous system.
7. Exercise! Put those hormones to good use and get moving. A good run, brisk walk, bike ride, or a long swim will help to turn your sudden burst of blood sugar into a positive successful workout.
Always remember, your body is your primary mode of mobility and your most important possession! Treat it that way and your good health will allow everything else that is important to be enjoyed that much more!