Oh Come On… It’s Just a Little Stress.
By Dr. Robert Mirandola
We are now in the middle of the Holiday season and along with the cheerful gatherings of families and friends, the odors of delectable feasts wafting from the kitchen, and the joyful celebrating in whatever way you choose, there is always someone who seems to show up around this season uninvited… stress.
This month, we will explore why it is said that stress is at the foundation of all sickness and disease as well as discuss various ways of reducing emotional stress this Holiday season.
Let me introduce you to a different way of looking at sickness and disease that eludes most, simply because they were never taught to think about health this way by their health coach, their doctor. It can be summed up in one phrase: Sickness is not the opposite of health; sickness is the absence of health. Sickness is not the result of bad luck or chance, rather, our bodies are genetically programmed to always move back toward health. For example, if we get food poisoning after eating bad takeout one night, we most certainly will have a fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, and a headache. At this point, would you say we are healthy or sick? Sick right? Wrong. All of these “symptoms” are expressions of your body moving back toward health – of killing or getting the bacteria out of your body by any means possible. The person who smokes for 35 years and one day decides to stop smoking cold turkey will, that day, get healthier as their lung tissue, if not too permanently damaged, will begin to repair. Again, your body is always fighting to get you back toward health, toward balance. With this said, let us explore the role of stress in the process of sickness so that this Holiday season you will not be lacking in health whether through colds, flues, sinus infections, etc.
Hans Selye, Austrian medical researcher, is recognized for giving us an understanding of how ongoing stress leads to physical breakdown, sickness, and disease. He described 4 progressive phases of how the body reacts to ongoing stress. The first is alarm. If you have never heard of the flight or fight response, it is what happens inside of you when you workout or run away from a saber tooth tiger! This adrenaline rush reaction is meant to allow us to survive a short‐term stressful situation although today, with financial stress, work stress, family stress, etc., we find that we are in this state day upon day, week upon week, month upon month at a time. It is at this time that your body attempts to adapt to the stress. How it does this is with prolonged high blood pressure, high cholesterol, uncontrolled spilling of high amounts of sugar in the blood stream (diabetes), etc. But how long can we keep this up? Not long before we breakdown. Your body cannot keep up with these demands, so your cells, tissues, and organs begin to breakdown or exhibit signs of sickness or disease. It is at this stage the immune system issues: chronic colds, flues, infections, and cancers become evident. Finally, if nothing is done to change the cause of the stressor(s) (unfortunately medication does not do this) death of tissues results and eventually death of the person. This is why it is absolutely vital that we address the cause of our stressors and fully seek to minimize or better, eliminate them all together if possible.
Now that we understand why stress is at the foundation of all sickness and disease, let us take a look at three ways to overcome or adapt to stress and achieve greater health. The first way is to intentionally quite your mind while focusing on your inner calm. Activities such as yoga, meditation, t’ai chi, and prayer fall into this category. Second, engage in activities that are designed to distract your mind such as baking/cooking, reading, engaging in volunteer/special interest groups, or various hobbies. Finally, you can utilize several ways to allow your body to greater adapt to these stressors including exercise (any type), acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic. Chiropractic allows optimal communication of your nervous system throughout your body, which is vital since your nervous system controls the proper function of every tissue, organ, gland and system in your body (including your immune system).
Dr. Robert Mirandola is the owner of Allasso Chiropractic in Newtonville. He can be reached at 617.332.1877 or DrMirandola@allassochiro.com. To learn more, please visit our website at www.AllassoChiro.com.