Chronic stress can affect everything in your life. It can strain your relationships, trash your health, sidetrack your mind, disrupt your work and interrupt your sleep. At BodaHealth, we understand the far-reaching effects of stress, and offer our patients a number of natural and effective treatments to help you regain control of your life and get your health back on track.
Why is stress so insidious? First of all, you may not realize how hard stress is on your body. It’s common for people who have been under unrelenting stress to feel like they’re handling things, until they get really sick or begin to have uncomfortable symptoms. Second, the physiology of the stress response is meant to be a short-term event, not something that goes on for weeks, months, or years.
Here’s how stress works: When an event or situation occurs that makes you feel threatened, a part of your brain, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, stimulates your nervous system to react. It releases a cascade of hormones that speed up your heart, tense your muscles, raise your blood pressure, speed up your respiration, and hone your senses, so you can act. At the same time, your body quiets some of the functions that you don’t need in the moment, such as your digestion, immunity and reproductive system. This reaction is called the fight or flight response, which creates changes in your body to help you run or gear up for a fight. After the threat is gone, your body returns to normal within about 90 minutes.
The problem with this fight or flight response is that it worked well in primitive times, in which threats were relatively short-term. In today’s world, what we perceive as threats often don’t resolve quickly, leaving many people in a perpetual state of fight or flight. The number of health issues chronically elevated stress can produce is staggering. They include:
- Tension headaches or a trigger for migraines
- Stomachache, nausea, appetite changes, poor digestion
- Decreased immunity
- Elevated blood sugar
- Increased risk of depression
- High blood pressure
- Elevated heart rate
- Increased risk for a heart attack
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle tightness
- Low libido (sex drive),
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
- Hormonal imbalances, fertility issues, irregular menstrual cycles
In addition, stress can affect your mind, giving rise to memory issues, poor concentration, racing thoughts, and chronic worry. It can lead to depression, anxiety, mood swings, anger, irritability, and feeling overwhelmed. Over time, chronic stress may translate into behavioral issues, such as changes in how you eat, sleep habits, procrastination, withdrawal, and chemical abuse.
It’s also important to know that stress isn’t always about threatening or negative life situations. Change can be stressful, even when a change is a positive or happy one. For example, getting married, a promotion or new job you want, having a baby, graduating, and moving to a new home may be positive. However, they’re life-altering changes that can bump up your stress.
Dealing With Stress and Its Effects
At BodaHealth, we recognize that in order to heal completely it’s important to treat the underlying cause of your health problems, which is treating the stress itself. By designing a treatment strategy that targets the source of your problem, we help your body recover completely instead of just providing a Band-Aid for your symptoms.
While many people are aware of the benefits of acupuncture, some may be surprised to know that it can be a surprisingly effective for treating stress. Research has documented the effect of acupuncture on your nervous system. It can increase the circulation of feel-good neurotransmitters that help reduce stress and balance stress hormones that are regulated by the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. In addition, acupuncture promotes relaxation in muscles that are tight due to the stress response.
Chinese herbal medicine may also be a part of your treatment plan for stress. There are a number of herbs available that have calming and mood balancing effects. A selection of herbs may be combined into a formula designed to best treat your specific underlying condition and symptoms. In many cases, herbs are prescribed to extend and complement your acupuncture treatments.
Recovering from stress also involves a focus on your diet and digestion. Your body needs adequate amounts of the proper nutrients in order to heal and recover. During stressful times, it’s common to crave fast food, foods high in sugar and salt, caffeine and other stimulants. However, poor dietary choices only serve to further deplete your body and make it more difficult to recover from stress. At BodaHealth, our practitioners of Chinese medicine and our naturopathic doctors are able to assess your nutritional needs and digestive function. They will then prescribe dietary guidelines, vitamins, supplements, and herbs that are best suited to your specific needs.
Massage therapy also plays a large role in helping our patients recover from stress. Massage therapy is incredibly relaxing and helps to directly relieve tension and stress. In addition, massage helps loosen tight muscles, relax tense neck and shoulders, reduce stress-related headaches, promote circulation, and can help relieve pain.
The effects and symptoms of stress are far-reaching. It’s been said that stress makes everything worse. Whether your musculoskeletal system, digestion, or immune system have been affected, we can help. At BodaHealth, we offer the following healing tools to help you recover from the secondary symptoms of stress, depending on which body systems have been affected:
- Acupuncture and electric stimulation
- Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), including herbal therapy, cupping, Tui Na, Gua Sha, and dietary therapy
- Massage therapy
- Injection therapies
- Therapeutic exercise, clinical Pilates, fascial stretching
- Naturopathic medicine
- Shockwave therapy
- Osteopathic medicine
- Nutritional therapy
- Exercise physiology, kinesiology, and biomechanics
At BodaHealth, we get it. Stress is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to derail your health or your joy for living. Our practitioners and staff are committed to helping you find balance, relief, and recovery from the effects of stress. Contact us today to find out how we can best help you.