Ever heard the phrase “Stress Kills!” It does, slowly. People die from heart attacks, ulcers, strokes, cancers and other degenerative conditions often due to long-term stress. It’s no secret that people who live a relaxed, healthy life-style of daily exercise, good eating habits, and deep, restful sleep suffer less stress related illness. Notice how when you’re feeling run down, tired in the morning, getting restless sleep, and constantly concerned about something, you also have a tendency to get sick easier? You catch a cold or flue, have an upset stomach, suffer from headaches, backaches, and maybe even find yourself more irritable.
Stress, whether physical, chemical, or mental stress, suppresses your natural immune system, as well as other vital organ functions, thus reducing homeostasis, or your body’s ability to regulate and heal itself. Chiropractic does wonders for physical stress, and here in the islands we don’t experience some of the more common chemical stressors like polluted air and second-hand smoke, but mental stress is all around. It can come from the work place, the TV, radio and newspaper, and just dealing with the daily challenges of your life. Understanding the negative effects of stress may give you some incentive to do something about it!
The Effects of Stress on Your Body
Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses.
Stress is a normal part of life. Many events that happen to you and around you — and many things that you do yourself — put stress on your body. You can experience stress from your environment, your body, and your thoughts.
How does stress affect health?
The human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. Stress can be positive, keeping us alert and ready to avoid danger. Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges. As a result, the person becomes overworked, and stress-related tension builds.
Stress that continues without relief can lead to a condition called distress — a negative stress reaction. Distress can disturb the body’s internal balance or equilibrium — leading to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases.
Stress also becomes harmful when people use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to try to relieve their stress. Unfortunately, instead of relieving the stress and returning the body to a relaxed state, these substances tend to keep the body in a stressed state and cause more problems. Consider the following facts:
Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
Seventy-five to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
Stress is linked to six of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.
Here in the Caribbean Islands we are spared many of the negative stressors that the United States population is constantly exposed to. But with growing success, expansion, politics, money issues, and daily exposure to American TV and world news, comes more stress. Are you “hooked” on it, brain washed by the repetition, numb to the noise? The only good thing about stress is that you are in control. You choose what you listen to, read, and get involved in. You can just choose take a pleasant walk, read a positive book, listen to your favorite music, really talk with your family, and just say no to junk TV, worthless gossip, and politically empty rhetoric.
Want to stop the stress? Go ahead, there’s the power button. Just turn it off!
Dr. Alan Platt is a Primary Care Doctor of Chiropractic. His office, Chiropractic Health Care, is located in Rodney Bay, in the Providence Medical Center-RJ Clark Pharmacy building, top floor by the elevator.
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