Stress – the underlying problem
Stress is a natural physiological response to a threat. It is designed to be short-term enabling us to survive a threatening situation. However human stressors are now chronic and long term, the subsequent effect of this that the body is held in a prolonged period of ‘stress response’ the results of which are responsible for many of the lifestyle diseases we see today.
A stress can be:
Stress in detail
Stress is commonly thought of to be a state of mind in response to situations that arise from work, home etc that place us under emotional pressure. Although this does constitute a form of stress, this is not the only cause of stress.
Stress or the stress response, refers to our bodies reaction to any external (environmental) input that pushes our body away from a state of balance or homeostasis. These inputs are known as STRESSORS.
A stressor can be in the form of an emotional situation but can also be created by anything that pushes your cellular physiology away from the norm.
Stressors can range from
dietary; the body having a lack or the nutrients that it requires (insufficiency) or having the presence of a toxin that is damaging to health (toxicity) to
physical; an insufficiency of movement or not enough exercise or the presence of a negative physical stress and of course
emotional; a lack of good thought patterns or excess of negative thought patterns.
No matter what the stressor is, it results in the activation of the same STRESS RESPONSE pathways. This is your body’s attempt to push your physiology away from a state of stress or ‘dis-ease’ back to a state of balance or homeostasis helping to returning you to a state of health.
A good way to understand the stress response is to think of the well known ‘flight or fight response.’ This simple analogy states that when you detect a threat to your well being, your body reacts with the release of specific hormones and activation of specific nerve pathways that prepare and enable your body to either fight the threat or run from it.
For example when faced by a threat such as a tiger you would experience the well known adrenalin rush enabling your power muscles to function more efficiently and reducing the activity of non essential muscles such as those involved in digestion and allowing your brain to focus on the threat and block out any non essential functions at that time. This is a perfectly sensible reaction for your body and gives you the chance to survive the encounter and then return to a state of normal functioning. During this response we are under STRESS.
Although this stress is essential for our survival at these threatening moments it is easy to understand that if we remain in a prolonged state of stress, the health of the body is compromised (reduced digestive function, reduced immunity, increased blood pressure, increased blood sugar, increased muscle tension…and many more).
When the stress response is active in the correct situations it enables our bodies to cope with a dangerous situation and quickly afterwards, return to a state of homeostasis and balance promoting tissue healing, growth and repair.
The long term presence of the stress response however can have major effects on our health. In today’s society the presence of stressors such as poor nutrition, lack or exercise and poor thought patterns are long term and therefore place our bodies into a long term state of stress. We therefore fail to return to homeostasis and balance preventing normal healing, growth and repair and leading to many of the health issues we see in modern society. These can range from failure to recover from injury (and the development of chronic pain), to the development of chronic stress related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and many more.
At ML we are passionate about reducing the presence of stressors in your life and maximizing the ability of your body to cope with those that are present. We have in house experts specialising in each area of environmental stress whether the cause be emotional, physical or nutritional.
Through careful assessment and management of our patients we guide them to become more conscious of the stressors around them and teach how to best cope with these modern day stressors that so often keep our body in a state of ‘fight or flight.’ This may be through modifying your nutritional intake, learning to cope with emotional stressors or correcting alignment, flexibility and strength issues that create physical stressors.