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At some point or another, everyone will eventually experience some form of stress. It manifests in the body through the 3 T’s of chiropractic care: Traumas, Toxins, and Thoughts. Mental and emotional stress is the most prevalent type of stress throughout the year, and it’s no wonder: Every day, we’re bombarded with financial and family concerns in addition to intense pressures from work, household chores, and all the expectations to keep everyone afloat. Then we find out how bad stress is for us and we stress out about that! It’s a never-ending cycle.

While you can’t as easily reduce stress, despite what others may tell you, it’s important to learn strategies to at least manage stress before it impacts every system in the body. When one system is affected by stress, all of the others could be affected negatively as well. Take the following scenario as an example of this: When stress puts the body into fight or flight mode, it can impact the digestive system. Because of this, the body may not be able to digest the food as efficiently and could contribute to acid reflux, colon problems, hormonal imbalances, blood pressure changes, and so on.

Consider how you can incorporate the following recommendations in your daily life to support your body’s healthy responses to stress:

9 Ways to Support the Body’s Response to Stress

1. Ensure You Receive Consistent Chiropractic Adjustments

When you’re stressed, your shoulders tense up and your muscles become rigid and stiff. This natural tension response can lead to subluxations or misalignments along the spine, especially in the mid-back area. Getting consistent chiropractic adjustments may help manage your physical stress response and support your body during times of stress. [1]

2. Eat Some Dark Chocolate!

Dark chocolate made with unadulterated, pure cacao is a delicious superfood that’s also high in antioxidants. Research suggests that consuming dark chocolate may help alleviate the mental response to stress. In fact, individuals frequently consuming dark chocolate in their diet tend to report lower stress levels as well as decreased concentrations of cortisol – the hormone associated with stress – after participants in these studies consumed dark chocolate. [2]

The stress-reducing properties of dark chocolate might be linked to its potential benefits on cardiovascular health, given that chronic stress is known to increase the risk of heart disease. If you need a little pick-me-up, don’t feel guilty about helping yourself to some dark chocolate!

3. Practice Focused Breathing Through Yoga or Meditation

Focused breathing can help your mind escape out of the fight or flight mode. One effective way to start practicing focused breathing while getting some physical exercise and stretching is through yoga.

The practice of meditation can also offer benefits for mental and physical health. It provides a tranquil environment that can encourage serenity, balance, and overall well-being. By focusing on your breathing surrounded by calming stimuli, meditation can facilitate relaxation and stress management, which may benefit the physical health of the body as well. Regular meditation practice can help individuals maintain inner peace and stay grounded. Beyond the meditation or yoga session, the effects of meditation and yoga could permeate throughout your day, promoting a more composed demeanor and possibly affecting symptoms of some health concerns as well. [3]

4. Cuddle and Play With Your Pets!

The benefits our pets can have on our overall health has been studied many times. In fact, research has shown that dogs in particular may offer numerous psychological and physical benefits, such as alleviating stress, anxiety, and feelings of loneliness. Having a pet can also promote physical activity and enhance overall health in a myriad of ways. For instance, dog owners generally exhibit lower blood pressure readings and a reduced risk of cardiac disease. [4]

Simply interacting with a dog can encourage elevated levels of oxytocin and dopamine in the brain in as little as 15 seconds, fostering positive emotions and decreased stress levels. [4]

Taking your dog for a walk or cuddling with your favorite furry companion can be quite beneficial for both short-term and long-term stress management. If you don’t have one of your own and don’t want that responsibility, borrow one! Whether you spend time with your friends’ animals or your own, enjoying the companionship of pets can facilitate a greater sense of joy and fulfillment.

5. Massages Aren’t Just for Pampering

Beyond its relaxing and serene characteristics, massage therapy can also offer several stress-management and physiological benefits. Getting a 45-90 minute massage can affect the body’s cortisol levels during periods of intense stress: When cortisol is produced during stress, blood glucose levels could also be affected. Since cortisol is considered the “stress hormone,” elevated levels of cortisol can affect both physical and psychological health while suppressing the body’s natural fight-or-flight responses. [5]

60 minutes of massage therapy can not only lower cortisol levels but could also support serotonin production, which is considered the “feel-good hormone”. Simultaneously reducing cortisol while encouraging serotonin production can facilitate your human need for physical touch while also supporting your body and mind in response to pain, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness. [5]

Regular massages can encourage a pattern of tension-release into your weekly or bi-weekly routine while also giving you a much-needed break in your busy schedule to look forward to.

6. Find Your Support System

Find people who help reduce your stress without adding to it with unnecessary drama or conflict. Enjoy the company of people who will bring you back to reality and keep you grounded in moment-to-moment situations. Empathetic and supportive people need other empathetic and supportive people!

The key is to find decent and compassionate people to support your feelings and lift you up without resorting to dismissive toxic positivity – characterized by invalidating phrases like “There’s always someone out there who has it way worse!” or “Every cloud has a silver lining!” – which can actually increase feelings of guilt for being stressed. What does this guilt lead to? Further stress. Dismissiveness is unproductive and toxic, even if it’s used in a grass-is-greener sort of way. Find people to support you and validate your stress, but who are also willing to push you to embrace the present moment.

7. Listen to Educational Podcasts About Stress Management Techniques

Find a podcast that inspires you while helping you use productive techniques to manage your stress in a healthy way without pretending the stress doesn’t exist. Informational podcasts on self-development and mental health can help guide you to refocus your thoughts and build yourself up rather than tearing you down for feeling stressed. Search for a podcast with plenty of positive feedback from other listeners, but make sure it ultimately resonates with you and your needs first before assessing its popularity.

8. Support Your Body With Regular Exercise and Nutritious Foods

Proper nutrition supports your body both mentally and physically, which can encourage balanced hormone levels that can support the stress response. If the body is not nourished properly, there could be an interference in the systems that may lead to long-term health concerns.

Just a little bit of movement every day goes a long way! Exercise is often recommended to athletes and non-athletes alike for stress and anxiety management: In fact, regular aerobic exercise can actually reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline while stimulating endorphins. Endorphins are often used to refer to the characteristic “runner’s high,” but it can also contribute to a more relaxed and peaceful state of mind in any form of aerobic activity. [6]

9. Approach Each Day With Your Priorities at the Forefront

At The Wellness Way, we often talk about priorities over goals. When you have clear priorities, you have a much more accurate picture of what would be most important to focus your energy on each day. When your focus for the day is clear, you can walk through it more confidently because you know what to expect and you feel confidence in knowing what you need to accomplish. Confidently approaching the day ahead can limit the number of stressors that could be distract and derail you. 

It may take some time to sketch out your priorities, but the effects will undoubtedly be worth it. When you live by your priorities, daily challenges may not impact your health as negatively. You’ll know what to do each day even when those inevitable surprises pop up! The impact of stress can contribute to further stress because you feel like you are not in control of something in your life; rather, you may feel as if your life is controlling you.  When you have a clear set of attainable goals and boundaries in place for each day, you’ll have a clear map navigating you as you make decisions.

Everybody Has Stress: Not Everybody Has to be Controlled by it!

Addressing stress and coping with it effectively are extremely valuable to your overall health and mental wellbeing. At The Wellness Way, we don’t guess, we test! We test for food allergies, hormone levels, and other functions of the body to fully understand what objective factors could be contributing to your body’s displays of stress. Once the doctors and health restoration coaches at a clinic near you have clear glimpse of physiological stressors, they are more efficiently prepared to support your body’s healthy management of the inevitable external and emotional stressors of modern-day life.

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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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