We have had so much stress over the past couple of years. If you are like me, I’m sure there have been many times when you have felt overwhelmed with life events – to the point where you realize, or loved ones recognize for you, that you are stressed out. Stress is a broad, ambiguous, and often poorly understood concept. In its most simplified sense, stress is what one feels when life’s demands exceed one’s ability to meet those demands. In a much more elaborate sense, stress goes far beyond what one actually feels, causing predictable changes in immune function, hormone levels, enzymes, and gastrointestinal function. In fact, prolonged stress, whether a result of mental/emotional upset or due to physical factors such as malnutrition, surgery, chemical exposure, excessive exercise, sleep deprivation, or a host of other environmental causes, results in predictable systemic effects.
All individuals have different capacities to perform and accommodate when faced with stress. But ultimately, we all have a breaking point; add enough total stress and performance suffers. Prolonged stress ultimately forces people to accommodate to maintain a relative balance in the face of the continued challenges. But, at some point, all organisms reach a point beyond which compromises are no longer possible and function suffers. If stress persists long enough or with enough intensity, one begins to experience a decline in performance, a maladaptive response.
From headaches to heart disease and immune deficiencies to digestive problems, stress is a factor in many illnesses. A substantial contributor to stress-induced decline in health appears to be an increased production of stress hormones and subsequent decreased immune function. The Mayo Clinic reported psychological stress is the strongest risk factor predictive of future cardiac events, including myocardial infarction and cardiac death, among individuals with existing coronary artery disease.
Research clearly indicates a bout of acute stress in virtually any form will cause, at the very least, a temporary decrease in functioning of the immune system, while chronic stress will result in continued decline in immune system function. Research has also shown stress decreases white blood cell function, such as decreasing NK killer cell function and decreasing secretory IgA. Also, the beneficial bacteria biffidobacterium and lactobacilli have been shown to decrease while pathogenic ecoli and enterobacteria increase. Today, more than ever, we need our immune system and body to be strong.
At CDA Acupuncture and Holistic Healing our providers are here to help you find healthy ways to assist you cope and manage your stressors in a variety of ways. This may entail assessing and addressing adrenal stress hormone levels, getting a relaxing botanical massage, receiving acupuncture and Chinese herbs, nutritional assessment and treatment, taking specific vitamin and botanical stress/adrenal support supplements or enjoying a healing comforting medi-facial. Also this fall, we are looking forward to completing our community room downstairs and offering Qi Gong, Yoga, breathing and other meditation techniques. Know that we care, we recognize your stress and we want to be here for you. If you are working with one of our providers, please share with them your stresses and ask them to help you find ways to improve the way you deal with stress. Reach out, you are not alone – we are here to help you with Holistic Healing!