90% of doctor’s office visits are due to stress. Stresses add up and will lead to a wide range of conditions. Thyroid issues, energy issues, heart disease, diabetes, menstrual problems, low testosterone, weight gain, poor sleep, irritability, and so much more. When you visit a doctor with a traditional mindset, their solution isn’t to remove you from all of the chemical and mental stressors on your body but to give you a solution of another chemical that only covers up the symptoms. This just stresses the body more instead of showing you how to harness your stress for health. So, stress just keeps going up. It’s about time we slowed down to understand stress.
We are a stressed-out country! Up to 50% of adults experience insomnia or sleep disorders. Up to 34% of adults suffer from depression or anxiety. Over 25% of children suffer from anxiety. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 44,193 Americans take their own lives yearly, or 121 individuals daily. 494,169 people visit the hospital every year for injuries due to self-harm. It’s because we don’t understand stress.
If I locked you in a room and started the room on fire, you would have a high-stress response. Your cortisol would go up, and you would go into fight-or-flight mode. Here’s what you need to know about that stress response: every single stress response is the same, whether it’s a burning building or everyday stress. So, mental stresses like traffic, kids, or work, along with stresses to the body (like food allergies or lack of sleep), induce the same response as a burning building. It takes 90 minutes for your body to recover from a stressful event. What if you’re having 15 stressful events a day? You are spending your whole day in a state of chronic stress.
The chemical, mental, and physical stresses we put our bodies through daily lead to increased cortisol and adrenaline. Just like if you were locked in a room on fire or a bear was chasing you. High cortisol and adrenaline lead to increased blood sugar, constriction of blood vessels, increased blood pressure, slowed digestion, tightening of muscles, and increased inflammatory response. Sometimes, your body needs the protective factors of increased cortisol and adrenaline to fight off a bear or escape a room on fire. That’s true, but your body can’t live in a state of chronic stress.
Address These 3 areas To Harness Your Stress
Many people have stressors and don’t even realize how much they impact their health. If you want to overcome stress, fatigue, and burnout, there are 3 areas you need to address to reclaim your health. Those areas are your physical stressors, chemical stressors, and mental stressors. In the chiropractic world, we call them the 3-T’s: traumas, toxins, and thoughts. If you can address these, you can harness your stress and regain the health you didn’t think you’d ever get back.
Traumas or Physical Stressors
Traumas are anytime the body is under physical stress. So, anything from being pinned under a car to bad posture can cause physical stress. The most important thing to do is to remove the cause of the physical stress. That’s what chiropractors do with a physical adjustment. They remove physical stressors. Can you think of any traumas you need to remove from your life? When was the last time you got a chiropractic adjustment?
Toxins or Chemical Stressors
In this modern-day society there are so many toxins our bodies come into contact with. The plastics, preservatives, additives, pesticides, and other chemicals we put on our bodies or ingest all do us harm. It’s not just chemicals. Toxins can include mold and even the foods we eat. Did you know that many people have allergies they aren’t even aware of that are triggering an immune response in their body? These allergies can have an immediate or delayed response, which means many people don’t even recognize the cause.
Some symptoms of allergies include:
- Mood Swings (Anxiety, Aggressiveness, Irritability)
- Dark Circles Under Eyes
- Canker Sores
- Sinus Problems
- Brain Fog
- Bloating, Excess Weight
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms make sure you are being thoroughly tested by a proficient provider.
Thoughts or Mental Stressors
All day we are bombarded with potential mental stressors from the morning traffic to the nighttime news. In the wake of all these stresses, be an anchor and not a flag. Don’t be at the whim of stresses just flapping in the wind. Stay in control of your thoughts. How do you do this? Here are a few tips. Make a war plan. Scheduling your day can make sure you get done what is on your priorities. Learn to delegate. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Ask for help. Learn to say no, so you don’t overcommit yourself. For everything else, just let it go. If it won’t matter 5 years from now, don’t spend more than 5 minutes thinking about it.
It can take time to train yourself to do these very simple things, but they are necessary. Check out our tips to help reduce stress to help you train yourself to put yourself first.
It’s Critical to Harness Your Stress
Your body wasn’t meant for chronic stress. Short-term, it can lead to exhaustion, anxiety, poor sleep, thyroid issues, and weight gain. These are symptoms your stress hormones are out of control. Long term, it can leave you with chronic illness. If you are experiencing symptoms, it is important to get tested to find out what is triggering your stress and work to remove the stressors in your life. Unfortunately, it’s not usually just one thing! Now that you know how stress impacts the body and ways you can avoid the stress that robs you of enjoying your life, take steps to harness your stress for health.
By Dr. Nathan Thompson
Originally posted January 17, 2019. Updated August 8. 2023.