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From deadlines and finances to relationships and responsibility, our lives can be stressful. There are physical, chemical and emotional stressors, and understanding more about each can be helpful in reducing their impact. Here’s what you should know about the role of emotional stress in our lives – and how chiropractic can help.

The Role of Emotional Stress

We wrote last week about emotional stress as one of the three major forms of stresses to our spines and nervous systems, and we shared an example of a passenger in a car on a wintry road. In tense situations like that, it’s normal to feel many physical symptoms – tightness in the neck, shoulders and low back, possible nausea or headache – even though nothing physical has even happened.


Simply because we respond to emotional stress by asymmetrically tightening our spinal muscles. This involuntary action triggers a number of things in the body:

  • The release of a number of different hormones
  • Shallow breathing
  • Increase in blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Decrease in insulin receptors

And the list goes on. These changes, by the way, are the perfect response to a stressful encounter with, say, a grizzly bear. It’s called the fight or flight response, and it affects the adrenal system. In the short term, the physiological changes allow you to protect yourself from an attacker, or better yet, run away. Either way, you can see how emotional stress affects our physical body.

Here’s the problem.

Emotional stress has developed into a chronic, ongoing problem in our society. We’re locked into this fight or flight mode with no grizzly bears in sight. Instead, it’s a response to things like traffic, meetings, finances, relationships, negative media and our overly busy, overly scheduled lives.

The physiological changes resulting from all of this are then labeled as diseases:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol)
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Decreased immune function
  • Cancer

These are diseases of lifestyle. All affect spinal integrity, nervous system function and overall health.

Pretty amazing how emotional stress can affect us, isn’t it?

How Can Chiropractic Help?

Chiropractic care isn’t a miracle cure for every ailment in life, but it does help ensure that your body’s nerve communication is optimal. Emotional stress has a very real physical impact to your spine and nervous system, and your chiropractor can assess function in these areas to get you back on track.

Learn more about what you can expect at your first chiropractic visit, and schedule an appointment with Dr. McSweeney today.