3 Types of Stress..
Stress! Most times when we hear the word “stress” you might think of an emotional response, feeling frustrated or run down. However, this is only one type of stress. When you look up stress on Google you get given two definitions; “pressure or tension placed upon a material object”, or “a state of emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”. So, what is stress when we refer to human health?
Stress comes in three different forms, emotional/psychological, chemical, and physical; or thoughts, toxins, and traumas. Each of these types of stress have an effect on your body and the way it expresses its physiology. For every action, there is an equal or opposite reaction. Therefore, when stress in any form is applied to a person there must be a reaction in the body, whether you are conscious of it or not. This is a normal response.
When physical or mechanical stress occurs what might happen in the body? Well, it depends on the stressor. For example, if you were to cut your finger the physiological response would be for blood to rush to the area and begin to clot and form a scab so the skin can heal. A different example would be if you were lifting weights in the gym, with the correct load you create microtears in the muscle, when you then go home and rest these microtears heal and the muscle becomes larger and stronger. Both of these are examples of an intelligent response of the body to overcome physical stress, note how they both have a positive outcome.
Chemical stress comes from the things we put in our bodies, whether it be intentional or not. This includes what we eat and drink, the products we use on our skin and hair, the air we breathe, and anything else that we may come into contact with that our body must respond to. So what is the response to these environmental substances; when we ingest food our stomach must break it down into digestible components in order to be absorbed by the intestines and utilise them in the body. Some components may be unsuitable for use in the body and are therefore excreted as faeces; however, over time, over consumption of certain foods may lead to inflammation in the gut in response to substances that cannot be digested. This is the body’s attempt to fight against the substances causing harm. If this goes unnoticed or is ignored damage can occur in the gut lining leading to further complication. Note however that the body is constantly trying to adapt to this stressor but due to repeated exposure its adaptive processes can eventually be overcome if the stressor is too great.
Emotional or psychological stress can come in all different forms in different areas of our life. This form of stress not only affects the mind but changes our physiology as well. Think about when you’re stressed at work, how does your body feel? How might your posture change, your breathing change, your heart rate change? Many people may feel tension in their posture, heart rate increases, breathing becomes shallower and more rapid. This is a fight or flight response; your body is preparing you to run or fight. Imagine if you had to stay in this state of physiology for long periods of time, what long term effects might that have on your body and mind.
So, what is the best way to combat stress in all its forms? The most obvious answer is to mitigate the stressors that we are exposed to. This is a good place to start as there are things we can control, we can be mindful of food choices, put ourselves in positions of minimal physical harm, and reduce mental stress through meditation. However, at some point you will come up against these stressors, it is impossible to control everything. There will be physical demand placed upon your body, there are increasing levels of toxins in our food, water, and air, and you will face stressful times at work or at home. How do we deal with those scenarios? Why not ensure your body is as strong and resilient as possible? So that when you face these challenges your body has the best chance at adapting effectively to overcome the stressor.
One way you can do this is to look after the health of your spine and nervous system by regularly getting checked by a Chiropractor. At Top Chiro we do just that! Check out our other blogs on human adaptability and health and find out how we look after people in our office. Chiropractic is not only about overcoming health challenges but maintaining good health long term!