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The Importance of Stress

Important? Stress? Really?

Yes, really. Stress has long been considered a bad word, or at least, a bad thing. We can be overwhelmed by it, have stressful jobs, and even the word itself is enough to make us clench our teeth and shrug our shoulders to protect ourselves.

But it is not all bad. Stress is simply a force or strain on your system that requires adaptation. This is why you can categorize almost any experience you have in your life as stress. What doesn’t require adaptation? Anything that you are already fully adapted to.

Is life really meant to be lived that way? Devoid of hardship or struggle, devoid of challenge, and devoid of the requirement of adaptation? I heard someone in my practice mention to me that their previous chiropractor had told her that she would simply have to stop picking up her baby. I told her that I would never ask her to do that. That what I would prefer is to get her to the point where she can pick up her baby. This six letter word is a part of our lives, and will be a part of being alive. If you don’t want any stress at all, then you need to question what you’re here for.

Exercise is a form of stress, and it is a form designed to make us better. By adding stress to your system in the form of exercise, your muscles, nerves, lungs, heart, and more become more able to handle said stress. And then you get better. So you increase the stress. That’s just how it works!

There are times when it is necessary for healing to remove a stress that is too great for an injured body part to handle. But the goal is not to avoid that forever and ever, but to increase the capacity to deal with it, so it is no longer a problem. There are times when lifestyle modifications can improve one’s ability to heal, but then to avoid that forever is not the goal.

As a chiropractor, I do not want people to live their life afraid of the encounters they may experience. I want people to grow, to learn, to evolve so that the vicissitudes of life are something they can adapt to, and that they want to take on. Challenges are what help us to grow and become better than we were before. All stress can do that for us if we have the right mindset, and the capacity to handle it.

Chiropractic literally improves the ability of the body to adapt to stress. It does this both by improving short term function immediately after the adjustment, and by allowing the nerve system to enhance its capacity to handle the information coming in. Then the brain and nerves can provide the appropriate responses. The adjustment also helps to integrate the tensegrity structure of the body, physically allowing for greater stability and mobility of the entire system.

Some stresses are far too much for almost any body to handle. These would include car accidents or other such injuries. It can also include repetitive stresses. The body was never meant to deal with the special challenge of these repetitive injuries. They have become an increasing problem with the ever present specialization of our labor force. In these cases, I do suggest that people modify their lifestyle as much as possible to limit that stress. What’s interesting is that in these cases, sometimes adding a stress, like exercise or therapy, can alleviate the problem.

Stress is not the enemy. Our perspective on it can turn something potentially deleterious into something that allows to become our best selves. How are you going to approach it? Would you like help?

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