We hear a lot these days about stress. Mostly about how people have too much of it. Look around at your own life and you might feel the same way. We have stress from our jobs, family, finances, community, home, hobbies, possessions, kids and on and on. Some people even feel stress from their leisure activities. The current levels of stress that people walk around with on a daily basis is quite disturbing. What are our choices? What can we do about it? You’re not going to quit your job, get rid of your family and house and move to a desert island are you? No! But you can have a better and easier life with all of those stresses.
So what is stress and what can we do about it? Let’s look first at the current ‘state of stress’ in the United States:
- Stress has been studied since the early 1900’s yet much in the field still remains a complete mystery
- 3 out of 4 Americans complain of chronic stress
2 out of 3 visits to the family doctor are thought to be stress related
- Stress has become a multi-billion dollar business
- 3 top selling prescription drugs are for ulcers, depression and hypertension – all very often symptoms of too much stress
- The numbers are a bit staggering. You may even feel your body tightening reading them and thinking about them, like the situation is stressing you out.
Stress can create wear and tear on the body. It definitely makes demands on the body for adaptation. But stress can also be good for you. We are conditioned to think of only the negative aspects of stress, but we would not be who we are today if it was not for stress and its potential for growth.
Take for example physical exercise, or perhaps the physical labor of daily living. Most everyone has had to engage in physical activity that at times stressed the body’s ability. Or when we had to prepare for a performance of some sort, or meet a pressing deadline. At the time very stressful, yet we came out on the other side stronger or in some way more capable.
Perhaps stress is really a double edged sword. That physical activity could go too far and cause debilitating damage to the body if we don’t respect our internal signals. Same thing when preparing for a deadline or performance if we neglect to take care of ourselves in the interim. How is it that our bodies can adapt to some stresses and use them for growth, while other ones make us sick? How can we increase the effectiveness with which we cope with the stresses that surround us?
The answer is look within. Your body has the potential to express strategies which assist it in dealing with stress. What if your body did not have to resort to breaking down in the face of stress and instead it began to flourish with it? What if stress became fuel for your personal healing? Now that would be cool! Well, those strategies are there for you to access. With a healthy and adaptable spine and nerve system, your body will function more effectively, be freer, more flexible and deal with stress in a more resourceful manner.
Many thanks to Dan Lemberger, D.C for writing the original version of this article, modified slightly by yours truly, Steve Gardner, D.C.