Healthy Stress

Fact: Some stress is vital for life. 

Without healthy stress your mind and body would simply shut down and wither away. Stress comes in 3 forms: physical, chemical and emotional/mental. For example:

  1. Without the physical stress of gravity and movement your bones de-mineralise and joints degenerate.
  2. Without the chemical stress of digesting the foods that we eat we cannot produce the energy we need to stay alive.
  3. Without the emotional stress of varied social interactions we become isolated, emotionally deprived and can lose perspective.

Physical stress only becomes a problem when it exceeds our capability for repair and adaptation, chemical stress a problem when it exceeds our ability to eliminate and detoxify and emotional/mental stress when we are stretched beyond our ability to manage the prevailing circumstances. So in these instances situations such as:

1)      Too much unbalanced physical stress on your joints will cause osteoarthritis

2)      Too much chemical stress from junk foods can overload our systems causing illness and disease.

3)      Too much mental stress from workplace demands can lead to varying states of fatigue and burnout, anxiety, sleep disturbances and depression.

So the point is, healthy stress is vital to stimulate growth as a human organism. Stress is like a good diet. You need the right amount with enough variety to keep your mind and body in tip top shape. Or more simply put, “All stress in moderation” is a good thing. Too little or too much of any one type of stressor over a long enough period of time is going to have a serious effect on your health.

Remember, what you call “stress” is usually a feeling of being emotionally out of control or stretched beyond your ability to cope. This usually goes hand in hand with feelings such as rage, anger and frustration through to sadness, disappointment and ambivalence at the other end of the spectrum. But, it is also possible to be severely physically stressed (like in the case of an elite athlete) or chemically stressed (like someone with toxicity from poor nutrition) whilst not necessarily feeling emotionally stressed at the same time. In many ways these stressors are more sinister. We are not aware of them until we get sick or injured. Ever heard of the fit and healthy 45 years old person that just dropped dead?

Often our problems with stress are to do the fact that we habitually expose ourselves to the same types of stress over and over again for a lifetime, not stress itself.

Simply trying to minimise stress is like going on a fad diet. In many cases it is unsustainable because the real issues (your day to day life) have not changed. For example, you cannot love a job you hate by taking more holidays. Similarly you cannot fix a broken relationship by spending more time apart.

A novel thought to consider!

Maybe the best way to be less stressed is to just vary the type of stress you feed yourself every day. Swap the stress of working long hours in a job that you hate with the stress of redefining your path in life. Swap the stress of a feeling stiff and sore with the stress of regular stretching, exercise and preventative chiropractic adjustments. Swap the stress of never having enough time with the stress of better organising your schedule to incorporate some strategic rest. Swap the stress of whining about your friends with the stress of finding some new ones. Swap the stress of being broke with the stress of disciplined savings. Swap the stress of being over-weight with the stress of buying your own food and preparing healthy meals. Swap the stress of being bored with the stress of getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new.

Making a conscious choice about the type of stress you expose yourself to, how much of it and when is the key to sustainable change and a healthier life. When you take control of your circumstances your inspiration may take the place of stress in your life. As it is said, it is often not what you do but your state of mind while you do it that can make all the difference.

Study on stress

If you needed some extra motivation to start channelling healthy stress to your favour, here is a very interesting study that has been done. “Bruce Rockefeller (The Rockefeller University) and Tersa Seeman (UCLA) examined a group of middle aged people and measured their levels of chronic stress. (A point to note is that none of the subjects had heart disease at the beginning of the 2 year study). By the end of the 2 year study period, the people with the high levels of chronic stress had a 500% greater increase in heart disease than those with no positive indicators of high chronic stress. A good example the disease you get slowing you down because you didn’t.

So for Better Health take the time to:

1) Be conscious of what it is you are really stressed about

2) Consider whether you could channel that stress and energy into something that will give you a better long term result

3) Understand that stress is more than just emotional strain on your body. Things such as good nutrition, time out and regular chiropractic care to keep your body and nervous system working their best are essential for getting the best out of yourself for a lifetime.

Yours in Better Health

Andrew Richards (Principal Chiropractor)