Five easy ways to reduce stress

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By Dr. Haley Lance, Columnist

We’re surrounded! Surrounded by stress, that is. Stress at work, stress at home, it really is the new epidemic.

Stress is a normal part of life, and a certain amount of stress is the stimulant we need to achieve our goals. However, when stress becomes constant, our bodies become overwhelmed and strained. When stressed, our bodies release adrenalin and a series of reactions begin to take place.

Heart rate increases, muscles tense, blood pressure rises, pupils dilate, and the body jumps to attention preparing to fight or retreat. The body also shuts down functions not needed for immediate survival, such as the immune and digestive systems, choosing instead to funnel all available energy to the situation at hand.

This response is critical to surviving any dangerous situation; however, the body reacts to physical, emotional and chemical stress in the same way. Whether you are in the path of a speeding car or struggling with a conflict at work, your body jumps to attention preparing for your next reaction.

And, if stress continues over a period of time, the body gets locked into this defensive reaction and it can lead to a myriad of conditions including high blood pressure, elevated liver enzymes, chronic headaches, and high cholesterol. It also can take a toll on our brains, affecting overall memory performance.

The Centers for Disease Control sights a significant link between stress and six of the leading causes of death; heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. Stress can never be eliminated from our lives, but learning how to minimize and manage it can have a significant impact on your immediate and long-term health. Here are five ways to keep your stress in check: Exercise.

As our schedules become full and more demands are placed on us, it’s easy to move exercise to the bottom of the list. But that’s a big mistake. Exercise can be a great way to shed daily tensions. Studies have shown exercise increases self-confidence, while lowering symptoms of anxiety and depression.

It can also improve sleep, which tends to become disrupted when a person is stressed. Any form of physical movement will do – walking, yoga, aerobics, a round of golf. At least 30 minutes of physical activity a day will go a long way toward decreasing stress levels and improving your mood. Sleep.

Unfortunately, when we are stressed and busy, we tend to get less sleep than we need. If we get insufficient sleep on a regular basis, concentration and energy levels can drop, decreasing overall effectiveness and our ability to handle stressful situations. Sleep allows the body to rest and heal. Ideally, you should shoot for seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Diet. Stress can send our eating habits into a tailspin.

During hectic times, make a point to eat consistently throughout the day, rather than skipping meals. This provides continual fuel to keep the body (and brain) going, while also preventing blood sugar from dropping. Carbohydrates can help boost mood by releasing serotonin, but choose your carbs carefully. Sweets and refined carbs can wreak havoc on blood sugar and cause a loss of energy.

Combine fruits and veggies with some protein, such as turkey slices or a handful of nuts, for a snack that will keep your mood even. Chiropractic Adjustments. One major cause of physical stress is vertebral subluxations (misalignments of the spine). When spinal bones lose their normal position and motion from stress, trauma or chemical imbalance, the disturbance to the spine and nerve system begins to affect body function.

When body function decreases the body looses health. Untreated, vertebral subluxations not only limit the body’s ability to manage stress, but can lead to headaches, digestive problems, back and neck pain, decreased immunity and many other conditions. A chiropractic adjustment can realign the spine and bring the body back into balance. Staying socially connected. Close relationships have a tremendous impact on our overall well-being.

Whether we are sharing a joke with a friend or relaxing over a cup of coffee with a neighbor, strong social connections help us to feel supported, valued and connected.

Studies have shown that individuals who maintain close relationships with others have less stress-related health problems, lower risk of mental illness, and faster recovery from trauma or illness.

Now at Rutledge’s Back to Wellness, Dr. Haley Lance holds an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences from Auburn University and received her Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life University in Marietta.

Dr. Lance takes an integrative approach to with patients, drawing on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology and nutrition to help bring the body back into balance. A mother herself, Dr. Lance has a special interest in pediatric care, as well as the pre- and post-natal care of women. Back to Wellness is located at 113 Fairplay Street Rutledge, GA 30663 and can be reached at 706-557-0211.

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