We’ve all seen the magazine headlines promoting the latest, simple ways to overcome stress. Stress. We’ve all known it, seen it, felt it. It’s a part of our world and becoming ever more prevalent with no respecter of age, demographic, or geographic location. What exactly is stress? The National Institute of Mental Health states:
Stress is the physical or mental response to an external cause, such as having a lot of homework or having an illness. A stressor may be a one-time or short-term occurrence, or it can happen repeatedly over a long time.
What can stress tell us? What are some ways to manage stress and the anxiety that sometimes comes as a result? The starting point is to figure out what is causing the stress. Is the root mental or physical? Once you know the answer to that, you’re path and journey to health restoration, mental and physical, will become much clearer.
In the following sections, we’ll discuss how to handle simple mindset stress, as well as some more complex stress issues that may be triggered by a physical or environmental influence and require additional support.
Healthy and Simple Ways to Cope with Mental Stress
In chiropractic care, the 3T’s are foundational in restoring health. Thoughts, toxins, and traumas cover the ways that stress impacts the function of the body and impacts health. Thoughts reflects the importance of our mental mindset. There have been several studies indicating the importance of a good attitude and is effect on health. Choosing perspective and controlling mindset for some is simple. For others it takes a bit of help whether that’s from a friend, coach, or even a licensed therapist or counselor. While we use the term “thoughts” here, we understand that what is referred to as mental trauma may need to be handled with the help of a professional.
Make a mental health plan:
Figuring out your best path forward may take some stretching into new habits and trying new strategies. The goal is the same, no matter the path used to get there, so ask yourself, will this help me restore health? If not, don’t give up, try again. The outcome of a healthy mindset greatly impacts so many areas of life from relationships to physical health as well as simply enjoying life! Take the time to discover your path forward.
Improve Your Mental Input:
There is a popular saying amongst successful people:
You are most greatly impacted by your five closest associates and the books you read.
What is impacting you, mentally? We don’t eat junk food and expect a nourished, optimally functioning body. The brain works the same way! Be sure you are associating with positive, like-minded people who can encourage and support you. Read materials that stretch you and help you to grow. When you consider mental input as serious as your physical input, you’ll see a healthier perspective begin to shine through.
Don’t Hold the Phone:
When smartphones first came out, people assumed they’d be much more productive and likely work fewer hours. In fact, the opposite is true. Most people feel on call 24/7 and unable to put the phone down. The constant ding of the phone increases adrenaline and cortisol levels. These hormones can be felt by people as constant stress. Many mental health conditions have been linked to smartphone use.
Walking on Sunshine:
Some of the best medicine is still fresh air and sunshine. Taking a break to get outside and stretch your legs and fill your lungs can do wonders for mental health! Often a change of scenery and physical movement can bring clarity and perspective, as well as reducing stress, so that you can be more productive and focused when you jump back into the tasks at hand.
Give Thanks and Remember:
Recently, more and more attention has been given to the role of gratitude in mental health. Studies have been done showing the changes in the brain with as little as a few minutes dedicated to gratitude daily. You can use a preprinted journal, or simply take a few minutes at the end of your day to reflect on the events, people, and things that you are grateful for each day. Keeping a record to look back on often helps people through future tough spots as well!
Managing Stress and Anxiety from Traumas and Toxins
The definition provided above by the NIH is a good start. Sometimes the stress comes from other sources that can be easily overlooked and underestimated. When these stressors are considered, managing stress and anxiety appropriately and successfully can be closer than you may think.
What About Mental Illness?
There are times when an imbalance of neurotransmitters, chemical messengers in the body, can cause mental stress, metal illness, and anxiety. It is imperative that the proper testing be done physically to get a clearer picture as to what is affecting the mind and body. Typically, when people go to counselors and therapists, the trial-and-error method is used to figure out the proper medication and dosage. This can lead to more mental as well as physical stress and make things worse before they have the opportunity to get better. That’s why some of the side effects of these drugs are the same dangerous symptoms someone is seeking treatment for. When proper testing is done, we can get to the root of the problem and begin to fix the problem, not mask the symptoms.
Physical Trauma and Stress
Neurotransmitters aren’t the only cause of mental stress within the body. Pain, organ, and systemic disfunction can lead to stress on the body which can certainly impact mental health. When you aren’t feeling well, or are dealing with chronic illness and pain, the disruption in your daily life can lead to mental stress and anxiety. Health can be restored when proper testing is done, and function is supported. Sometimes that can be as simple as a chiropractic adjustment for pain, or a health restoration plan for easing dis-ease within the body. Once the pain is relieved and health is restored, typically the healthy ways to cope with stress outlined above can help.
Toxins and Stress
Toxins in our environment can also cause mental and physical stress. Toxins can be anything from toxic chemicals used to clean the house, sprayed in the environment, and even healthy foods! Yes, even healthy foods can cause a toxic reaction within the body if they are an allergen. The best way to manage stress due to toxins is to use non-toxic home cleaners, use clean personal care products, and be aware of possible air and water contaminants.
Eating whole, clean, organic foods is a good start, but what if you are eating foods that cause a toxic reaction within your body? When you consume an allergen, you are causing an immune response. The body’s reaction, if this is a common experience, could become fatigued and lead to a physical as well as mental stress. Many people can recognize they don’t feel well after eating, but they aren’t always able to identify which foods may be triggering that reaction. Some parts of the immune system can have a response delayed for as long as 21 days. That would certainly make pinpointing the challenge difficult! Getting your allergies tested and avoiding them is another healthy way to cope with stress.
Mood Disorders and Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress
In today’s world of “specialists” we often want to separate the mind from the body. However, there is more and more scientific literature to support the connection in physical and mental health. Both play a role in overall health, and greatly impact the other. In reality, it can be a confusing cycle similar to what came first, the chicken or the egg scenario. Which affects which? The answer is, “Yes!” Yes, they affect each other, and one may have started the cycle and caused a reaction into the other. But to have optimal health and function, both need to be supported.
If you or a loved one is struggling with mood disorders or stress, reach out to a Wellness Way clinic today to determine the root cause. Then you can begin your journey back to wellness; physically and mentally!