Skip to content

Stress and Chiropractic

There are three types of stress which influence our health. Physical, chemical and mental/emotional, all of which we are exposed to on a daily basis. In order for us human beings to survive through the obstacles of life we are innately programmed to adapt to them via our stress response. According to the Australian Spinal Research Foundation, we see this adaption when we are pushing to meet a deadline, working on fighting off a virus, having a fever, exercising or even when we eat, just to illustrate a few of the many cicumstances when this response is triggered. For our body to thrive, we must be capable of adapting appropriately to both our internal (within our body) and external(everything around us) environments.

Stress is a normal process, however when it occurs at too high a level regularly throughout a sustained period in our life, it becomes abnormal and unhealthy, taking a tax upon our energy mentally and physically. When stress levels are balanced and healthy in our life, this low level stress response and the hormones and brain chemicals that go with it, is what motivates us to accomplish things. It is what gives us resilience and what gets us through situations in life – work stress, grief, high levels of responsibility, the list can go on. However, stress does not merely come from just external factors. Internal stressors come from toxins, additives, alcohol, preservatives and chemicals in the food and drink we ingest and in personal care products. These foreign materials can overload the vital organs of our body, which also starts the vicious cycle we will talk about further in this section.

Stress dials ups our fight or flight response, which is the sympathetic branch of our autonomic nerve system (your involuntary nervous system). Stress will put your physiology in a state, as if your trying to run away from a saber tooth tiger. Close your eyes and imagine this scenario, think about how you would be feeling being chased by such a beast. Your heart rate would shoot right up, you will begin to sweat profusely, and the last thing your brain wants to focus on is digesting that sandwich you had for lunch or repairing that bit cut skin you have on your hand. Now I’d like to shift your focus, imagine having this process occurring while you are sitting in an office at work day in day out. Believe it or not, this is how most people are operating on a daily basis.

When our system is put into this state, our body is more likely to struggle with adapting both to the internal and environmental conditions around it. This is where our immune system can become vulnerable, we fall ill and our health unravels in a downward spiral. Chiropractors take a keen interest in supporting neurological and physiological systems of the human body. Ensuring that your neurology is operating in a more balanced state between fight or flight and rest and digest, means we can adapt better.  This ultimately gives the body the best chance to thrive while being able to heal itself effectively as it continually adapts to the stresses of life.

Simple ways to Reduce Stress

Avoiding blue light overload – particularly in the evenings

These applications work to filter the blue light levels from your phone, computer or tablet to reduce your exposure to blight light.  Blue light overload can exacerbate sympathetic (fight or flight) dominance and reduce our ability to build melatonin in preparation for a good sleep. It has also been shown to play a role in gain and mental fatigue.

Winding down after 8pm

Ensuring we wind down well after 8pm will support in lowering your cortisol levels and raising our melatonin in preparation for a restorative night’s sleep.

  • Not starting work related tasks (emails, heavy prep for the next day, etc.)
  • Gentle tasks are fine
  • Getting 7.5 – 8 hours sleep
  • Regular exercise or movement
  • Yoga/Pilates
  • Meditation – “Calm” – on the Google Play Store Here
  • Deep breathing exercises – Lying on your back, shoulders rolled back, arms out stretched and palms up. Take slow deep breaths into your diaphragm (making sure your stomach rises). This exercise works on opening up your chest and reduces “humping” through your mid back and lower neck while also reducing forward head carriage – aka text neck.

Nutrition

  • Bitter green vegetables such as spinach, mescaline and rocket – They help immune balance, liver function, fat digestion, and sugar cravings.
  • Healthy fats are essential to give your body energy and to support cell growth. They help your body absorb nutrients and help produce important hormones. These fats also work to reduce inflammation. Examples include – Omega 3s – Avocado, Salmon, Chia and flax seeds; Omega 6 – nuts and seeds.
  • Meal composition – as a general guide to start with, aim for 2-3 handfuls of vegetables, 1/2 – 1 handful of unprocessed low GI carbohydrates alongside 1 handful of protein

Chiropractic Care

Assists your stress response due to reductions in the fight or flight activation levels in your nervous system.


[1] Haas A, Russell D (2018), “Sustained improvement of heart rate variability in patients undergoing a program of chiropractic care: a retrospective case series,” Chiropractic Journal of Australia, Volume 45, Number 4, pp. 339-358