Oh, The Struggle…
Fortunately, Chiropractic can help!
Back in January I wrote about how the world was going to become infected with fear and how I worried more about that, then the actual virus.
Turns out, the virus that causes COVID-19 isn't as bad as it could have been, yet its devastation is certainly plenty.
Suicide is up according to a few states and several organizations are concerned over the relationship with social isolation/distancing, sheltering in place, unemployment and a potential psychological pandemic.
Slowly, we are starting to see the impact of the constant stress of living in the new age of coronavirus.
Since January, most Americans have been living in a sea of stress hormones.
We are not designed for the constant application of these chemicals.
For any of you who've continued to get your adjustments, I want you to know that chiropractic adjustments have a positive influence on stress pathways in the body.
How Cortisol (Stress) Impacts the Body
There are many ways that cortisol negatively impacts our body.
Blood Sugar Imbalance and Diabetes
Under stressful conditions, cortisol provides the body with glucose by tapping into protein stores via gluconeogenesis in the liver. This energy can help an individual fight or flee a stressor.
However, elevated cortisol over the long term consistently produces glucose, leading to increased blood sugar levels.
Weight Gain and Obesity
Repeated elevation of cortisol can lead to weight gain.
One way is via visceral fat storage. Visceral fat is also considered “deadly fat”.
A second way goes back to the blood sugar-insulin problem.
Consistently high blood glucose levels along with insulin suppression lead to cells that are starved of glucose.
But those cells are crying out for energy, and one way to regulate is to send hunger signals to the brain.
This can lead to overeating. And, of course, unused glucose is eventually stored as body fat.
Immune System Suppression
Cortisol functions to reduce inflammation in the body, which is good, but over time, these efforts to reduce inflammation also suppress the immune system.
Chronic inflammation, caused by lifestyle factors such as poor diet and stress, helps to keep cortisol levels soaring, wreaking havoc on the immune system.
An unchecked immune system responding to unabated inflammation can lead to myriad problems: an increased susceptibility to colds and other illnesses, an increased risk of cancer, the tendency to develop food allergies, an increased risk of an assortment of gastrointestinal issues (because a healthy intestine is dependent on a healthy immune system), and possibly an increased risk of autoimmune disease.
Cortisol activates the sympathetic nervous system, causing all of the physiologic responses previously described.
As a rule, the parasympathetic nervous system must then be suppressed, since the two systems cannot operate simultaneously.
The parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated during quiet activities such as eating, which is important because for the body to best use food energy, enzymes and hormones controlling digestion and absorption must be working at their peak performance.
Imagine what goes on in a cortisol-flooded, stressed-out body when food is consumed: Digestion and absorption are compromised, indigestion develops, and the mucosal lining becomes irritated and inflamed.
This may sound familiar.
Ulcers are more common during stressful times, and many people with irritable bowel syndrome and colitis report improvement in their symptoms when they master stress management.
And, of course, the resulting mucosal inflammation leads to the increased production of cortisol, and the cycle continues as the body becomes increasingly taxed.
As we’ve seen, cortisol constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure to enhance the delivery of oxygenated blood.
This is advantageous for fight-or-flight situations but not perpetually.
Over time, such arterial constriction and high blood pressure can lead to vessel damage and plaque buildup—the perfect scenario for a heart attack.
This may explain why stressed-out type A (and the newly recognized type D) personalities are at significantly greater risk for heart disease than the more relaxed type B personalities.
Elevated cortisol relating to prolonged stress can lend itself to erectile dysfunction or the disruption of normal ovulation and menstrual cycles.
Furthermore, the androgenic sex hormones are produced in the same glands as cortisol and epinephrine, so excess cortisol production may hamper optimal production of these sex hormones.
Long-term stress and elevated cortisol may also be linked to insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome, thyroid disorders, dementia, depression, and other conditions.
Chiropractic Influences Stress Chemicals
Chiropractic adjustments influence the brain and spinal cord.
The brain and spinal cord process all stress both internally and externally.
A key aspect in managing the stress of uncertainty and life’s variables comes from the management and care of the body’s regulatory system.
Chiropractic adjustments help hit the reset button on the central nervous system and reduce stress hormones.
A strong nervous system helps alleviate the burden of mental and physical stress.
According to research published in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, a chiropractic adjustment reduced specific hormones in the body, which carried stress while allowing the subjects who received an adjustment to circulate more calming chemistry throughout the blood stream.
Some of the researchers in the study compared receiving a spinal adjustment to hitting ‘control-alt-delete’ on a computer.
The intimate connection between the spine and the central nervous system translates into a reset of the autonomic nervous system when healing adjustments occur.
The outcome produces a calming effect throughout the body.
Many people only associate Chiropractic with pain relief but the truth is, chiropractic adjustments produce healing in the body and side effects of healing usually arrive in the form of positive outcomes as stress and pain both dissipate.
Chiropractic allows the body to operate at maximum capacity, reducing stress hormones that rob life and vitality.
A reduction in physical and mental stress translates into increased levels of calming chemicals in the brain.
What To Do
Chiropractic adjustments essentially hit the rest button on the central nervous system, reducing dangerous stress hormones and helping alleviate the burden of mental and physical stress on the entire body.
With stress hormones at an all time high, and more drugs being prescribed to mask the symptoms, the need for chiropractic and stress-relieving lifestyle changes (aka exercise, talk-therapy, meditation) have never been more important.
Because of the intimate connection between the spine and the central nervous system, every adjustment helps to balance the autonomic nervous system.
As a result, a calming effect occurs throughout the body.
While many people seek chiropractic care because of their pain, reducing their stress is a major bonus and side effect that comes with every adjustment.
Additional Stress Reducing Strategies:
- Move Your Body – Any movement is good, but I'd suggest my Daily Mobility Drill.
- Breathe Deeply – Practice deep breathing 2-3x/day for 10 breaths at a time.
- Get Some Sun – Do little things that increase daily exposure (breathe deeply while sitting outside)
- Shower in Cold Water – Although it seems counterintuitive, cold showers are beneficial for both your mind and your body.
- Find a Talk Therapist – Ask our front desk for referrals :)
- Consider stress reducing adaptogenic herbs such as NuAdapt and TruAdapt.
- Get Chiropractic Adjustments!