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How to Know if Stress is Affecting Your Health and Well-Being

How to Know if Stress is Affecting Your Health and Well-Being

depressed-women-holding-headEveryone deals with stress in their lives. And—in small doses—this can be a very good thing. Manageable amounts of stress can actually help you perform at your best and may even help you develop your abilities. However, far too many of us are stressed to the point that our health and well-being could be compromised.

Stress: Helpful or Harmful?

When you are in a dangerous situation, your body responds with a rush of chemicals. This “flight-or-fight” response leads to an increased heart rate, quicker breathing, and higher blood pressure. In a truly dangerous situation, this response helps you make fast decisions and prepares your body for quick action that could save your life. Your body is able to handle this response in small doses over short periods of time, but when your body is constantly on “high alert,” your health pays the price.

Unfortunately, your body doesn’t differentiate between a physical threat (such as being attacked by a bear) and a psychological one (such as being three months behind on your electric bill). Therefore, everyday life is filled with interactions that could trigger a stress response in certain circumstances. A car honking at you on the highway, your boss reprimanding you in front of your peers, a call from your child’s teacher, and hundreds of other common occurrences can have a very real impact on your physical, cognitive, and emotional well-being. And their effects can and do add up.

The Symptoms of Stress

Constant or repeated stressful incidents can take a heavy toll. The most insidious part of ongoing stress is that this toll is not always easy to spot. Stress levels can build up slowly, and many people become acclimated to a “new normal” without realizing that it’s happening. Knowing how to spot the symptoms of stress can help you break the cycle by either addressing the underlying causes or by finding more effective ways to deal with the stress itself.

Have you noticed any of the following symptoms?

  • Constant worrying or anxiety
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Agitation or irritability
  • Feelings of loneliness, isolation, or depression
  • Digestive issues, such as upset stomach, diarrhea, or constipation
  • Insomnia or low energy levels
  • Chest pain or rapid heartbeat
  • Appetite changes
  • Substance abuse
  • Nervous behaviors, such as fidgeting or nail biting

These are just a few of the signs of stress overload. Consistently feeling stressed can also exacerbate other health problems, including infertility, depression, skin conditions, autoimmune disease, and heart disease. Stress may also encourage people to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as overindulging in comfort food, drinking or smoking too much, or lashing out at friends and family, which can further impact their physical and emotional well-being.

Healthy Ways to Cope With Stress

Coping with stress in a healthy and productive way can help you to manage its physical, psychological and emotional impacts. While you can’t always control the stressors in your life, you can control how you respond. By avoiding unnecessary stress, adapting to new situations, and accepting the things you can’t change, you can reduce the physical toll stress takes on your body.

Improving your overall physical health can also improve your body’s response to stress. It might be difficult to know where to start, so consider meeting with your chiropractor to learn more. Your chiropractor can help you create lifestyle strategies to leave you feeling healthier, happier, and better able to deal with life’s many stressors.

Family Road Trips and Your Health

Family Road Trips and Your Health

desert-roadway-200-300A family road trip can be a wonderful experience that creates life-long memories for parents and children alike. In fact, a recent survey by Jiffy Lube International suggests that road trips remain an American favorite, with 78% of those polled agreeing that they make the best vacations. However, spending long periods of time sitting in a car on the open road can have its drawbacks, too. This is especially true if you already spend a lot of time commuting or if you already have back or neck problems.

If you already spend many of your waking hours in a motor vehicle—either commuting to and from work or as part of your job—it’s fair to wonder whether a family road trip is really a good idea at all. After all, just the act of sitting for long periods of time has been called “the new smoking”. But if you do decide that a road trip is right for you and your family, there are some things that you can do safeguard your musculoskeletal health and to be more comfortable.

Tip #1:  Be sure that seats, seatbelts and head restraints are all properly adjusted. Remember that even the best safety equipment won’t provide as much protection as it should if it’s not positioned correctly.

Tip #2:  Get comfortable as early as possible in your trip. Little things that would only annoy or irritate you in the course of a 10-minute drive to the dry cleaner can translate into major aches and pains during a much longer trip. Avoid sitting on wallets or mobile phones and consider specialized supports or cushions that provide additional support for your lower back, neck or buttocks.

Tip #3:  Keep on moving. Sitting still for extended periods of time—even in well-designed car seats that have been properly adjusted—is bad for your back and for your health more generally. For this reason, it’s important to change the position of your seat and shift your weight slightly every 15-20 minutes. Plus, be sure to get out of the car to stretch your legs and back at least twice each day. Once every 60 to 90 minutes is even better. A little bit of exercise at rest stops is a very good idea, since regular movement helps to keep vertebral discs, muscles and ligaments healthy.

Tip #4: Keep hot and cold options on hand. If you’re already experiencing back pain, alternating between hot and cold can often provide relief. Preparation is the key—it’s important to have compresses or hot/cold water bottles and warm/cold packs on hand if you intend to use this strategy. It can also be handy to bring along an ice chest as well as a heating pad (with cigarette lighter adapter).

Tip #5: Get your chiropractic treatment before you hit the road and schedule a follow-up for the week you return. If you’re like most people, it’s easy to forget (or put off) important details in the hectic run-up to a vacation. With lots to accomplish at work and at home before you can leave, doctor’s appointments sometimes fall through the cracks. Don’t let it happen to you! Getting adjusted before you hit the road can improve your chances of having a pain-free, fun-filled experience.

While the prospect of taking long road trips might seem daunting for people who already have back or neck pain, a little bit of planning and a flexible itinerary can make all the difference. If you and your family are considering a summer road trip and would like some advice about how to get the most out of it, please call or visit our office today! We’re here to help!

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year office 2016
Happy New Year to all of our dear friends!
Thank you for being a part of our lives!
We hope that this New Year will be full of
abundance and health for each of you!

Dr. Oblander and staff

 

Preparing For the Holidays

Preparing For the Holidays

As we approach the holidays we want to focus on presence. That isn’t a typo. I’m referring to presence as in a state of being, rather than the typical presents that we think of this time of year which come wrapped up in fancy paper. If you are like most people you probably can’t remember the long list of gifts you’ve received over the years. While we appreciate the gifts and the people who gave them to us, most of those gifts get lost in the shuffle with all the other stuff we accumulate over time.

However, can you remember a gift that did have a long lasting impact on you, either because it was something that you truly wanted or needed or it had deep personal significance? When you think of that gift does it remind you of the person who gave it to you? The true gift is the presence of the people that we love and that love us. Think about times in your life that you shared with someone special and what that time together means to you. Then take a look at your life now and the people in it. Are you doing what it takes to create those special moments with the people you care about in your life?

In our fast-paced society it is easy to lose track of the things that are most important, the things that are going to mean something when our eulogy is being read. People often throw out the phrase, ‘It’s the quality of the time that matters, not the quantity’. Wrong, it’s both.

You can spend all kinds of time with someone and never have a meaningful exchange. On the other hand, you can have some great moments that stand out as the exceptions to the rules of the relationships in your life. I suggest that we should try to combine quality and quantity and create truly meaningful relationships in our lives.

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers”~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Take this opportunity to evaluate your relationships. If you find that you are not doing all you can to nourish those relationships, recommit to improving the quality and quantity of the time you invest in them. This year and going forward, make your presence your present.

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