by Dr. Melissa Stangl, Gonstead & Stangl Chiropractic
Two of the most important things in life are family and good health, but as we gather together during the holidays we also tend to gather an increased amount of unnecessary stress. Stress wears on our body’s ability to defend itself and leads into an increased risk of stress-related symptoms that commonly include headache, backache, fatigue, sleep issues, increased susceptibility to illness, and digestive and cardiovascular disorders. These complaints manifest physically, chemically, and emotionally and cause mayhem for well-being. In fact, medical research suggests that up to 80% of all illness is stress related. Fortunately, with a little mindfulness and the help of chiropractic, you can enhance your good health by taking a few simple steps to reduce the strain of holiday stress and ward off any unwanted ramifications.
Let’s consider how emotional, chemical, and physical stress affects our body physically. Emotion is transmitted across your body through the nervous system in the form of excitement, happiness, anxiety, and agitation being expressed physically with increased heart rate, the chills, sweat, jitters and more! Chemical stress, like overindulgence in food or drink and exposure to toxins, is transmitted in a similar manner and is expressed by changing your physical chemistry. Physical stress puts added strain on your body and challenges the supporting structures of the spine and nervous system. The negative effects of all of these stressors can cause an imbalance in your ability to function optimally leading to the symptoms of stress.
Along with a combination of stress reduction techniques, chiropractic can be an antidote for stress by setting the stage for your body to be balanced and coordinated in optimal function and also by helping your body remove nerve irritation, release muscular tension, and improve blood circulation when overcome by the physical expressions of stress. Both are accomplished when the chiropractor applies adjustment(s) to the spine and surrounding structures, allowing your body to adapt and heal naturally.
Being mindful of potential stress provokers is worth more than an ounce of prevention. Give yourself the gift of a healthy holiday by following these tips to avoid unnecessary physical stress.
1. Stay Physical! Exercise, walk, stretch, play and move about. Physical fitness keeps you mentally fit, emotionally calm and at peace.
2. Nourish Yourself! Make sure what you’re consuming is real food with nutritional value. Racecars generally don’t perform well when fed garbage truck fuel.
3. Avoid weight gain! Every extra pound in the abdominal region adds ten pounds of stress to the low back forcing the pelvis and torso to shift leading to spinal misalignments (“subluxations”) and therefore dysfunction.
4. Get enough rest! Many health problems that occur are simply due to fatigue. Get adequate rest to prevent structural strain, emotional and cognitive imbalance, and general health problems.
5. Be safe! Along with fastening your seat belt, adjust your vehicle’s head rest to align with your head for support and protection. Wear proper winter recreational safety equipment and use common sense when on ladders and during snow removal.
6. Change position! Vary household activity every 15 minutes and alternate between standing and sitting with food prep tasks and when wrapping presents.
7. Posture! Sitting, standing, walking and laying with a neutral spine is vital. Avoid high-heels and carrying heavy bags, purses, and kids.
8. Lift properly! Whether a shovel full of snow, a box of decorations or a frozen turkey, bend at your knees, lift with your legs, carry the load close to your body and avoid reaching and twisting.
9. Stretch! A daily routine is not only good for the soul but improves flexibility, balance, coordination, circulation and cardiovascular function all the while helping to prevent injuries.
10. STAY ADJUSTED! It’s best if you don’t wait until you are hurting to see your chiropractor, but if you are experiencing pain, chiropractic can help alleviate it naturally so you can get full enjoyment out of the holiday season.