Our bodies are built to handle stress, in fact we need a certain amount of stress to grow and function properly. Our bones need physical stress to remain healthy and strong, our muscles need stress to grow as well, and there are certain stressors in life that help our brains build synaptic bridges and function better. It’s our ability to adapt to our stressors that is key; it’s how well we adapt that allows us to evolve and learn. Part of that adaptability is in our perception of stress. A lot of books that I’ve been reading lately deal with the importance of our perception. *(I’ve listed the books below) Our perception shapes our reality. We all view the world with a different lens which makes sense because we’ve all had different experiences in our lives to make us who we are. Sometimes our perception can take us down a more negative path where we perceive every situation, trial, and tribulation as stressful. Other times, our perception takes us on a glass is half full path where there is a silver lining to all the events we are experiencing.
Approaching trials and tribulations from a standpoint of embracing stress rather than a stress management view involves a change in our perception. Instead of trying to manage stress, look at it from a different viewpoint, embracing the challenges and learning new techniques to adapt to the stressors.
What are some ways you can increase your adaptability to stress?
- Regular chiropractic adjustments can help balance the nervous system. Yes, the nervous system is complex, but simply put, the brain controls all the functions of the body. The brain and spinal cord make up your central nervous system. The nerves exiting the spinal cord make up your peripheral nervous system which is then divided into 3 parts: the somatic (think motor control), enteric (think gut brain connection), and autonomic (think fight or flight vs. rest and digest). The autonomic nervous system is crucial in regulating the stress response of our body. If you perceive a situation to be stressful, then your pupils dilate, your heart rate increases, your breathing increases, and you begin to sweat. This is all part of the sympathetic (fight or flight) response. In contrast, when you are calm and relaxed, the parasympathetic part of your nervous system is in control and your breathing and heart rate are slower. Did you know that the sympathetic and parasympathetic parts of the nervous system can not function at the same time…….and that vertebral subluxations in the form of misaligned vertebra putting pressure on nerves can affect the overall function of the autonomic nervous system? In a review article, it was noted that chiropractic adjustments help to reduce and/or correct vertebral subluxations and can help balance the function of the parasympathetic and sympathetic parts of the nervous system.
- Spending time outdoors and connecting with nature can help calm the nervous system and induce a sense of relaxation. Just recently I took a weekend getaway with family to Bryson City, North Carolina. I sat on the back porch and literally watched the clouds cast shadows on the Great Smokey Mountains. I even took a time lapse video of it! I didn’t do anything but sit there and relax. A study in Environmental Science and Technology found that just 5 minutes outdoors can do wonders for mental well-being, and that exercising outdoors helps produce a better mood than exercising indoors. Getting outside and walking, running, or doing yoga can do wonders for your adaptation to stressful situations.
- Aromatherapy through the use of essential oils can also help increase your adaptation to stress. Our sense of smell is so powerful and is directly translated to a primitive part of our brain called the limbic system. This part of the brain can influence emotions and memories. It would make sense then, that using aromatherapy and essential oils can affect our emotions and help induce a more relaxed state of being. A study out of Iran found that women who were experiencing anxiety during labor had a reduced level of anxiety, diastolic blood pressure, and pulse rate when exposed to an essential oil of orange peel!
- Starting a gratitude journal can be an impactful way to change your perception and help you embrace stress. It also doesn’t take much to start one. This article mentions several options for creating one. One simple way to start one is to jot down 5 things in the morning and 5 things in the evening for which you are grateful for. It can be as simple as you’re grateful for hot coffee in the morning, or more emotive such as being thankful for specific people in your life. I challenge you to start a gratitude journal and watch how your stressors take a different form. It’s all in how you perceive it.
Now this list is by no means complete. When you come in for your adjustment, let us know what you do to unwind and reconnect and how you embrace stressful situations with a change in perception.
*Bruce Lipton The Biology of Belief
*Dr. Wayne Dyer The Shift
*Dr. Candace Pert Molecules of Emotion