The year 2020 has brought a whole new set of challenges for many. People often don’t realize the impacts of mental & physical stress on the nervous system until it’s too late. With our world constantly changing, many of us have had to make some big changes and adapt in many ways. I think most can relate when I say that this has unfortunately caused an increase in our daily mental and physical stress. One of the biggest challenges I have been seeing with my patient’s is that most of them weren’t fully prepared to start working from home for 8hrs a day and have had to make shift with what they have.
For some, it was setting up at the kitchen table, sitting on a bar stool at the counter, working from the couch, etc. Imagine the increased stress we are putting on our bodies daily due to not having an ergonomic work station. In addition to that, with most gyms and fitness centers being closed on and off, we are not moving as much as we should to release all of that added tension and stress.
The Impact of Mental & Physical Stress On the Nervous System
Did you know that your body doesn’t know the difference between mental and physical stress? Many patients who come into my office don’t understand why their body is expressing certain symptoms because they haven’t had any “physical trauma” happen to them. Once they realize that they have been overwhelmed with their job, kids, finances, school, relationships etc. it all starts to make sense as to why their bodies aren’t functioning and healing the way that it should.
When your body is in a state of stress (whether it be mental or physical) it releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. What this does is put your body into “fight or flight” mode which is called your sympathetic nervous system. When your body is in this state, your parasympathetic system which is in charge of things such as rest, digestion, sleep, immune system, and healing become the last priority. I’m sure you can only imagine how your body is not going to be able to function and heal normally if it is constantly in a state of stress.
Now you might be thinking, well if my job, working from home, finances, school, kids etc. is what’s causing pain and stress on my body I can’t just up and quit everything. And yes, you’re right, unfortunately we don’t live in that perfect world where we can easily escape from most stressors, so what can you do?
Create a healthy body and internal environment to better handle external stressors that you cannot control.
How do you do that?
Through the spine and nervous system! Your brain and nervous system control everything in your body. From your heartbeat, every breath you take, to the food you digest, to that cut that heals on its own etc. Did you also know that your spine is the one thing that protects your nervous system? The nervous system is the only system within the entire body completely protected within bone, it’s that important!
When your body is having to deal with a state of stress, not only does it activate your sympathetic system but the spine has to adapt to those stressors too. When a spinal segment is not moving properly it actually influences how the brain controls and perceives sensory information. If your brain isn’t able to properly communicate to all of your cells, organs and tissues, your body is once again not able to function and heal at its full capacity. Over time we can start to develop symptoms such as headaches, neck or back pain, fatigue, issues with sleep, tight muscles, decreased range of motion etc. depending on where the miscommunication is located within your spine.
As a chiropractor, this is why I stress to everyone the importance of a healthy spine and nervous system. When you start to ignore the “little things” such as muscle tightness, pain here and there, stiffness etc. those things can turn into big things if not addressed in time. If you have never gotten your spine and nervous system checked, I highly recommend it. Find a chiropractor in your area to know what’s happening within your own body to give it the opportunity to function and heal the way it was always designed to, because you are the only person that has control over your health.