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Mental stress has affected human health for centuries, but people have become increasingly stressed over the past few years (particularly since 2020). You’ll notice stressed-out people at the grocery store, the gas station, and the clinic. You can see the stress in their eyes; when you talk with them, you can hear it in their voices. Let’s just say if you’re feeling stressed, you’re not alone. Here’s why we’re so stressed and some healthy ways to handle it better.

Americans Truly Are More Stressed 

According to a recent press release from the American Psychological Association, American is a “nation recovering from collective trauma.” The official end to the national public health emergency known as COVID-19 was just this past year, on May 11, 2023. But the recent “Stress in America” survey indicates the feeling of crisis is far from over.

Lots has changed since the fall of 2019. Among adults between the ages of 35 and 44, chronic illness has risen from 48% in 2019 to 58% in 2023. Mental health diagnoses in that group went from 31% in 2019 to 45% in 2023. Stress is taking a toll on our physical and emotional health. [1]

The human body doesn’t make mistakes. It’s not attacking itself in the case of an autoimmune disease. It’s simply responding to stressors, an action critical for survival. If a bear is attacking you, your heart rate goes up, your adrenaline goes up, and your digestion slows down. Your body is in fight-or-flight (sympathetic) mode. Eventually, the stress response goes back down so your body can return to rest-and-digest (parasympathetic) mode. But if you’re under constant stress, this doesn’t happen.

Now, remember the body is like a Swiss Watch. If just one thing is off, it can affect all the gears. That can include hormones, the heart, the GI, and many other physiological systems. Stress can make us very sick.

Stress Can Cause Health Problems

Stress comes in many forms: physical, biochemical, and emotional. The chiropractic field designates these three major categories “traumas, toxins, and thoughts,” the 3 T’s. Our bodies are designed to handle stressful situations.

In the face of real danger, our stress hormones go up and enable us to think fast, run away, lift heavy things, and become akin to a superhuman. It’s wonderful for that critical moment in time, as that stress response may save our lives. The problem comes in when there’s an overabundance of stressors or when stress becomes chronic. Then those short-term adaptations like high blood pressure, which is fine short term, can get stuck in place.

Chronic stress can affect both mental health and physical health, leading to familiar symptoms and conditions like:

  • Anxiety
  • Hypertension
  • Muscle tension
  • Heart disease
  • High blood sugar
  • Autoimmune disease (an overactive immune system)
  • Cancer (an underactive immune system)

When the nervous system is thrown off balance, just about anything can happen.

13 Ways to Support Your Body in Managing Stress

If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, remember you aren’t alone. On top of the usual stressors like work, kids, and even our spouses, the world has seemed a lot more stressful over the past few years. That means managing stress is more important than ever. You can’t eliminate all stressors, but you can control how you handle them and support your body in adapting. Take time for self-care and find the things that lower stress for you. Here are 13 ways to help lower your stress levels:

  1. Get Regular Chiropractic Adjustments – Mental stress isn’t the only stress on the body. There are also traumas (physical stressors) and toxins (biochemical toxins). Make sure you aren’t exposing your body to extra physical stressors like poor posture by getting regular chiropractic adjustments.
  2. Follow a Personalized Nutrition Program If you haven’t gotten your food allergies tested, put it at the top of your list. You may be following a healthy diet, but eating healthy foods you’re allergic to creates inflammation and stress in the body. Eating nutrient-dense whole foods also provides essential vitamins and minerals that support your overall well-being, including stress management.
  3. Try Mindfulness or Meditation – Practices like mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or progressive muscle relaxation can support stress reduction by bringing you back to the present moment.
  4. Connect with Others –Make time to connect with loved ones and make memories. Spending time with friends, family members, or a support network can help to alleviate feelings of stress. Having someone to talk to or seek advice from can offer perspective and emotional support. If you have a romantic partner, make time to cuddle. Cuddling can help increase your oxytocin levels, increasing your happiness and reducing feelings of stress.
  5. But Also Disconnect – The news and the social media scrolls aren’t helping your stress. It’s good to stay informed but give yourself permission to disconnect. You can also set specific parameters for yourself to avoid falling victim to the mindless scroll.
  6. Exercise – Perhaps the last thing you want to do is exercise, but physical activity can really help. The endorphins you can get from exercising are a proven stress reliever.
  7. Get Your Zzz’s – Your body heals when you sleep, so prioritizing sleep is crucial. Lack of sleep can significantly impact stress levels, so aiming for 7-9 hours of restful sleep each night can help. Follow our tips for better sleep and take that stress off your body.
  8. Spend Time Outside – Spend some time at the beach or outdoors for additional stress-busting benefits. Studies show spending time in nature can reduce anxiety and feelings of negativity. Studies have linked low vitamin D to depression. [2] Getting a healthy dose of vitamin D regularly will support an uplifted mood.
  9. Take Your Shoes Off! – Don’t just spend time outside; take your shoes off! Grounding or “earthing” is a practice based on the idea that direct physical contact with the Earth can have health benefits. It involves connecting the body to the Earth’s natural energy field by walking barefoot outdoors, sitting or lying on the ground, or using grounding devices that conduct the Earth’s energy. Earthing may reduce cortisol levels, lower inflammation, improve sleep, balance the body’s electrical systems, and promote overall well-being.
  10. Try Aromatherapy – Essential oils have tiny particles that can cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB), impacting the limbic system in the brain. A few stress-relieving oils include lavender, chamomile, bergamot, and ylang-ylang. Use them in a diffuser, applied topically as a perfume (diluted in a carrier oil), or even in essential oil jewelry. Simply inhaling them from the bottle or cupped hands has also helped many people find stress relief.
  11. Ask About Supplements – Ask your Wellness Way clinic which supplements may work best for you. Some potential stress-relieving herbs include California Poppy, Kava, Chamomile, and Passionflower. However, these herbs can affect other systems, so it’s important that you work with someone familiar with your situation.
  12. Consider EFT – The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as tapping, is a therapeutic method that combines elements of traditional Chinese medicine, psychology, and acupressure. It involves tapping specific points on the body while focusing on a particular emotional issue or health problem. The goal is to release negative emotions, reduce stress, and alleviate physical symptoms.
  13. Seek Professional Help When stress becomes overwhelming or persistent, seeking help from a therapist, counselor, or mental health professional is crucial. Modalities like talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), biofeedback, and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprogramming) may support healing.

The Wellness Way Can Help!

Stress is normal but don’t stay there! It is terrible for your health, which only leads to more stress. That’s how important health is, and you can support your body by testing for any physical stressors. It may feel like it, but you aren’t alone. Many others are stressed, but there is also The Wellness Way network of clinics and a community of others supporting each other on this journey. Work on managing your stress because not only will you be happier, but you will also be healthier.

Learn more about stress in this video with Dr. Patrick Flynn:


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Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. It’s not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your Wellness Way clinic or personal physician, especially if currently taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. Pregnant women, in particular, should seek the advice of a physician before trying any herb or supplement listed on this website. Always speak with your individual clinic before adding any medication, herb, or nutritional supplement to your health protocol. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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