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Let's Talk About Stress

The importance of stress management... from a neuroscience student.


How does stress affect my brain?

By Active Health


It is no secret that these past few years have been a stressful adjustment for all of us. With the New Year coming up, it is important to address these stressors in our life and find creative ways to manage them. Let’s start by talking about these stressors and how they can have detrimental effects on your brain, then work through some ways to can manage this stress.


We have something in our brains called glucocorticoids, a class of corticosteroids, that have a number of effects, but for our purposes, they are released by our brain (adrenal cortex) with elevated stress. Let’s call these glucocorticoids “stress bugs”. These stress bugs can cause your body to go into what we call “fight or flight” mode. You know that feeling when have to slam on the breaks in the car? That feeling of panic and urge to protect yourself is a bodily response to stress.


These stress bugs can have long-term effects on the brain including, increase pre-synaptic glutamate release, modified morphology in the hippocampal pyramidal neurons, post-synaptic region of dendrites in prefrontal regions, and amygdala, as well as self up-regulation causing increase endocannabinoid interaction. In simple terms, this release of “stress bugs” causes other systems in the brain and body to alter themselves in a negative fashion.


So, what happens if I have stress?

Well, short-term stress can cause synaptic enhancement! It can act as a source of motivation to get all your studying done. However, long-term (in reference to hours or days) can have a biphasic effect on the structure and function of the brain. In serious cases leading to excitotoxicity which can cause dendritic shrinkage and suppression of adult neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus.


How can my chiropractor help with my stress? It is no secret that chronic iconic stress can have immense effects on your physical health- tension, pain, fatigue. The spinal cord can be thought of as the master ‘switchboard’ of the nervous system, a major part of the CNS that communicates with the entire body. Under chronic stress, one may hold themselves in an unnatural, misaligned position or muscles may become tense. All of this can compound and result in headaches, shooting pains, numbness, and more. Regular chiropractic adjustments will release this tension in the muscles, realign the neck and spine, increase blood circulation and relax the fight or flight response. Proper alignment can alleviate the pressure placed on muscles and bones, and eradicate nerve pain


Here is a list of great stress-reducing activities you can try... - Exercise! Exercise has huge positive effects on that “stress bug” and also releases endorphins that regulate your mood.

- Write it down. Whether that be gratitude, journaling, to-do lists, recognizing what causes you to feel stress may help you to manage the feels.

- Call a friend or family member! Remember that “fight or flight” reaction we talked about? Studies have shown positive social interactions cause the release of oxytocin, a natural stress reliever and the opposite reaction of “fight or flight”

- Try practicing deep breathing or yoga. Much like the response to exercise, yoga and breathing techniques may help lower the “stress bugs” and increase GABA neurotransmitters. Also regulating your sympathetic nervous system, “fight or flight”, decreasing stress.


-Book an appointment with your chiropractor today!


Summary

Stress can affect different people in different ways and can stem from a variety of sources. This may present emotionally, mentally, and physically! We have learned how these stressors can biologically change our brains and the importance of managing stress.


Let Active Health reduce your physical stress. Providing you with personalized, simple ways to keep on top of your health.

Active Health Chiropractic

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