Your Nervous System on Stress
By Sara Butler
If you think about your body as a luxury vehicle, your nervous system is the computer that makes all the different parts work in unison together. Your nervous system is responsible for keeping you alive, providing the famous “fight or flight” response that once kept your cavemen ancestors active and thriving, even among the prehistoric beasts. The problem is that in the modern world there’s a lot of stress, stress that evokes the fight or flight response that can harm your health but isn’t actually life-threatening. Here are a few of the ways stress impacts your nervous system as well as your health, and how chiropractic can help.
Your body doesn’t distinguish between stress caused by sitting in traffic and stress caused by the threat of a predator. So, while that Buick in front of you may not be a mastodon charging you down, your body still treats it like one. That’s why when you’re under stress, your body releases stress hormones such as cortisol, noradrenaline, and adrenaline. These hormones cause changes in your cardiovascular system, including:
- Increased heart rate
- Blood vessel dilation
- Increased blood pressure
If your stress is chronic, and these hormones are constantly keeping your body in a state of fight or flight, then it will do damage to your body over time. You may develop chronic high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease that could lead straight to a stroke or heart attack.
When you’re stressed and in a state of alert, your muscles tense up. Over the long term, this can cause pain in your legs, arms, and back. It also leads to stress headaches caused by the tightened muscles in your neck and scalp. Muscle tension can cause trouble sleeping, too – and that won’t help your body to recover and rejuvenate.
Chiropractic Care to the Rescue
Chiropractic care treats your stress naturally, without the use of medications. After all, medications won’t help you to deal with the underlying problem causing your stress, it will merely mask your symptoms. Chiropractic care can reduce stress through:
- Spinal adjustments – The adjustments performed by your chiropractor can help to ease muscle tension and help your body to achieve a balanced state where your central nervous system can communicate unimpeded with the rest of your body.
- Lifestyle counseling – Your chiropractor can help you to identify situations or behaviors in your life causing stress and eliminate them. They generally suggest patients get more sleep, exercise and engage in other activities to help relieve their stress.
If you are worried about the ways stress may be impacting your health, discuss it with your chiropractor during your next adjustment at The Joint Chiropractic.