Stress and Your Body

When stress causes the brain to goes out of balance, the body necessarily follows.

The first system to be affected is the spine. The spine is the armour that protects the spinal cord and the lower parts of the brain. It gives both flexibility and structure to the body. Because of its role, it has an inseparable relationship with the nervous system. When an individual’s spinal bones and their relationship with the surrounding nerves changes, it can alter the nerve flow to the associated muscles, organs, cells and tissues – this is called a Subluxation. This is the single most detrimental effect of brain stress and can lead to several problems throughout the body. Let’s break it down by systems, but, keep in mind, everything is connected to each other and this interconnectedness is all under the control and command of our brain.

When the body is stressed, it generates what is known as the “fight or flight” response. The body shifts all of its energy resources toward fighting off a life threat, or fleeing from an enemy. The brain signals the release of our stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones cause the heart to beat faster, breathing rate to increase, blood vessels in the arms and legs to enlarge to increase speed of blood flow, digestive process to slow down and glucose levels (sugar energy) in the bloodstream to increase to deal with the assumed life-threatening emergency.

 

Immune System

If you’re stressed out, you’re more likely to get sick. Many studies have found that higher psychological stress levels result in a higher likelihood of catching the common cold. Researchers continue to conclude that higher stress levels are to blame for lowered immunity and higher infection rates. In one such study, dental students volunteered to receive small cuts on the roofs of their mouths on two occasions: once during summer break and again six weeks later, during exams. The students’ wounds took 40 percent longer to heal when they were under the stress of exams. In addition, the students’ levels of a protein called IL-1, which summons other immune cells to battle, were found to be two-thirds lower during exam time then during the summer.

 

Musculoskeletal System

When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stress — the body’s way of guarding against injury and pain. With a sudden onset of stress, the muscles tense up all at once, and then release their tension when the stress passes. Chronic stress causes the muscles of the body to be in a more or less constant state of guardedness. This can lead to many aches of pains. Have you ever suffered a tension headache? That’s a result of a subluxation pattern in the spine causing your muscles in your upper neck to tense up for an extended period of time.

 

Cardiovascular System

Chronic stress, or a constant stress experienced over a prolonged period of time, contributes to problems of the heart and blood vessels. The consistent and ongoing increase in heart rate, and the elevated levels of stress hormones and blood pressure, can take a toll on the body. This long-term stress can increase the risk for hypertension, heart attack and stroke. Chronic stress can also contribute to inflammation in the circulatory system, particularly in the coronary arteries, and this is one pathway that is thought to tie stress to a heart attack.

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