Forms of Stress: How Does Your Body Handle Them?

By Dr. Emily Rowan Alsheskie, chiropractor, MY Life Health Center

What if I told you that stress wasn’t real? Sounds untrue, but when thinking about mental or emotional stress, it is really how you perceive it. A farmer needs rain at certain times and sunshine at certain times. Sometimes when the farmer needs sunshine, it rains and when the farmer needs rain, the sun shines. Is rain a stressful event? Absolutely not! It’s all about how you perceive it. This idea of perception is the first essential of health that is taught in our practice, and it is one of three forms of stressors that occur to our bodies–emotional/mental stress.

Some mental stressors are out of our control, but there are ways to reduce our exposure to negativity by doing things like practicing forgiveness, using positive self-talk, and limiting our interactions with negative individuals.

The second major stressor may not be as obvious as the others, but it has a HUGE impact on the body’s ability to function properly. This is chemical stress. The most common form of chemical stress comes from our daily nutrition. This includes inflammatory products and foods like sugar, artificial sweeteners, food additives, preservatives and pesticides, as well as hydrogenated fats. The easiest way to avoid these harmful substances is to consume whole, fresh, organic foods and cut out processed and packaged foods. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and not the aisles!

The last and typically most noticed form of stress is physical stress. Motor vehicle accidents, slips, falls, and sporting injuries are common forms of macrotrauma. Microtraumas that accumulate over time and contribute to physical stress include things like sitting at a desk for extended periods of time and bending the head forward to use gadgets like cell phones. These repetitive actions, that we were not designed to experience on a daily basis, cause structural changes to the spine and supporting musculature. These changes in our foundation impact our most important system, the nervous system. The nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves that control all cells, tissues, and organs. When stress is constantly endured by the body–in all three forms: chemical, mental/emotional, and physical–the nervous system takes the hit and cannot control the body’s processes as it was intended to. This is why stress not only harms us in the short term but can lead to chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular complications, and other debilitating diseases.

Chiropractic care may be most known for symptom relief related to the spine, but chiropractors are really nervous system doctors. The nervous system is addressed via the spine since the vertebral column is what surrounds and protects this very important system. When the structure of the spine is in its most stable form, stress and tension are relieved from the spinal cord and the nerves that control the system’s processes. This is why patients who practice proper spinal hygiene with chiropractic adjustments and spinal therapies experience less sick days, improved quality of sleep, reduced number of over the counter/prescription medications, and less symptoms overall.

Stress is a normal part of life. I can’t take away your stressors like picking up your kids, making dinner, or walking your dog. But the big question here is, how well can your body handle stress? As doctors of chiropractic, we first and foremost check for any nervous system stressors and disruptors that can be causing an imbalance and inability to heal. From there we make corrections (the adjustment) by using our hands, drop table, and adjusting tool to put the body in a healing and less stressed state.

Physical, mental/emotional, and chemical stressors are a part of our day to day lives, but stress itself is not the problem. It’s how much stress we experience and how our bodies handle it. Taking care of yourself with adequate nutrition, exercise, mindset practices, and proper spinal alignment give you the best opportunity to prevent common lifestyle-induced illnesses and chronic pain. Whether you have aches and pains or not, get a nervous system evaluation to take a proactive and preventative approach to your health. Then incorporate the other tips included here to aid your body in healing!

Dr. Emily Rowan Alsheskie holds a doctorate in chiropractic with a special emphasis on prenatal and neonatal care. She is a recent graduate from Life University, a chiropractic college in Marietta, Georgia. Dr. Emily joined in practice with her mentor, Dr. Kevin Schultz, at MY Life Health Center in Lake Hallie this past fall. She is a mother to her two-year-old son, Rory, and is excited to raise him in the Chippewa Valley!

Choose HEALTH This New Year

By Dr. Emily Smith, Smith & Prissel Chiropractic

With every new year, we as adults find ourselves knee-deep in resolutions to make this year different than the last. As with everything else, our kids are watching! Without knowing we often “gift” our kids with their lifestyle habits, both good and bad. Breaking a bad habit is much harder than making a good habit. This year resolve to instill healthy changes that will benefit the entire family (and if everyone is involved, success is more likely to last past January!)

● Treats are just that, a treat! Eating a sweet treat every day creates a habit of needing sugar to feel satisfied. Avoid buying highly processed cookies/cakes at the store/gas station and instead choose to make healthier versions of sweets at home. (Add the word “healthy” into your Pinterest search bar to eliminate temptations.) If you have always been a family that ends a meal with dessert, try to follow the meal with fruit instead!

● Water should be the drink of choice! It’s not sweet or carbonated, but water is what our body needs and craves in order to function optimally. You should be drinking half of your body weight in ounces every day (for example if you weigh 100, pounds you should drink 50 ounces of water every day). Think of it like this, if you aren’t drinking enough water you are essentially creating “jerky” out of your muscles. If you’ve ever tried to bend/twist/stretch jerky, you know that you don’t want to be on the receiving end of that yourself. Dehydrated muscles will also be more prone to injury and result in more pain. Nobody wants that! If cold/flu symptoms have caused dehydration, turn to coconut water for rehydration (it’s nature’s Gatorade!)

● We’ve all heard the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but did you know that a simple apple contains 10,000 ingredients?! None of these are in huge amounts but rather in small amounts that work synergistically together to provide us with the prevention we give it credit for. But don’t stop there! All fruits and vegetables have their own massive amount of nutrients just waiting to do amazing things within your body! Strive to “eat the rainbow” with a wide variety of colors of fruits and vegetables every day. For those of you who struggle to accomplish that (due to cost/time/effort/desire), Juice Plus+ can be a great way to bridge the gap between what you are eating and what your body needs!

● Get active together! Whether this involves a family gym membership or hiking through the woods on snowshoes, the important part is that you are moving! To motivate kids check out This Strong Kids Challenge sticker sheets offer lots of ideas to help kids incorporate all of these healthy choices and keep track of their progress. There are also great ideas for healthy snacks, lunchbox planning, and a downloadable cookbook full of tasty recipes that the entire family will love.

Dr. Emily Smith is a pediatric chiropractic specialist but treats patients of all ages at her Menomonie and Eau Claire (Smith & Prissel Chiropractic) offices. She focuses on whole body wellness as it relates to health, including how important good nutrition is. She can be reached at or (715) 833-3505.

Use Chiropractic to Stay Healthy This Winter

By Lisa Arkowski, DC at  Gonstead, Stangl & Arkowski Gonstead, Stangl & Arkowski

Once again, cold and flu season is upon us. There’s an endless list of things that we can do to keep ourselves healthy this time of year. Maintaining good sleep, drinking water, and keeping sugar intake and stress levels down are all things we often know we should be doing. Making sure we’re eating our veggies and possibly adding some supplements can all help us stay healthy through the winter season.

But could chiropractic play a role in this too? Chiropractic care is often thought of when your back “goes out,” when you sleep funny, get a headache, or if your hands or feet start to tingle. But how can it help you get through the winter season? This time of year we tend to go into hibernation mode—we’re inside more, outside less. We bundle up when we go outside (and sometimes inside), and often we just start to feel tight all over just from the thought of the first snowfall. Spending hours in the kitchen cooking big meals for large family gatherings, sitting in the car to drive to see the ones you love, or even just sleeping in a different bed than usual are all activities that are necessary to see the friends and family we care dearly about. Unfortunately they can also lead to their own aches and pains down the line.

Sugar and stress often take more of a toll than we realize, leading to inflammation in the body. This in turn may make us more susceptible to both those holiday aches and pains as well as the more acute neck and back pain injuries.

Once the holidays are over we still don’t get off easy. The snow keeps falling and you have to put it somewhere. Icy sidewalks and parking lots create a slippery surface that creates extra work just to keep yourself up on your feet. Even those winter illnesses lead to more problems. Starting to get that cough going around the office? After a little while you may start straining your ribs and back, and you’ll get a quick reminder of just how many muscles and parts of your spine are involved in something as simple as a cough.

Chiropractic care can have a large impact on how comfortably you make it through this season. Chiropractors address the body as a whole, which leads to improved function, alleviated pain, and support for the body’s natural ability to heal itself. They evaluate the body and spine to see what’s working, and more importantly, what isn’t. In addition, chiropractors can teach you ergonomics so you’re moving right when you’re clearing those snow piles and skidding across those icy patches. They can give advice on what to do with all the driving and travel. Many chiropractors have additional training in nutritional counseling so they can help you get your body what it needs to stay healthy. They can help you address your health top to bottom, inside out.

Whether it’s staying proactive and taking care of yourself before those holiday aches and pain set in, or after you get through those activities and your body starts to tell you how much you’ve put it through, chiropractic can help you feel your best so you can focus on enjoying the season. Which is what it’s all supposed to be about anyway!