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Quick tips for decreasing stress responses leading to a more balanced level of health

What is the fight-flight response?

A temporary increase in your stress hormones.

What if it happens too often?

You will get out of balance..Your energy needs will increase because of the stress, and your body will try to make a continuous amount of stress hormones, to try to keep up.

Is it bad if this happens too often and/or for too long?

Yes. Long term hormonal stress leaves less resources to manage other areas of the body ( digestion, repair, ageing well, detoxifying toxins, maintaining adequate balance of muscle mass to fat, etc)

The medical term for this is ‘Sympathetic fight-flight’ for prolonged stress.

What should you do?

Get a thorough evaluation from a doctor qualified to check to health of your nervous system, your nutrition and your lifestyle.

While you are waiting for your appointment with Dr Agger, here are 5 quick tips:

  1. Identify your stress, or stressers. Which ones do you have control over? Decrease these first.
  2. Prepare your body to handle stress better. Look at your fuel and rest cycles. Watch the videos on ‘Blood sugar/energy and cravings’, ‘ Sleep’ and ‘Digestion.’
  3. Take the appropriate whole food, glandular and/or herbal supplements as determined specifically for you by a qualified professional.
  4. Perform specific stress reducing exercises. See videos ‘Super Brain Breathing’ and ‘Understanding your Autonomic Nervous System’
  5. Schedule an appointment, repeat tips 1 through 4.

For more in depth information, and to understand more about the fight-flight syndrome, read more of the information below:

Balancing the body to decrease your ‘fight or flight’ response and create personal, deeper healing and health….

Everybody has been there….your day is going along just fine, and then Wham! there is some increase in stress in your life. Whether this is a temporary ‘flash in the pan’ or a longer series of stressors, or a new stressful paradigm that has entered your life, ( i.e. short staffing at work, legal/contract wrangles, family health crisis, etc), your nervous system has to adapt to ensure your survival. That’s right! Your body does NOT care about optimal function!, it is solely concerned with survival of your species. Therefore, when under stress, your body intelligently, will up your level of stress hormones, namely, a hormone called Cortisol. This surge in cortisol will fuel the increase in your own metabolic ( energy) needs to fight this new found stress.

 

We hope that these stressful times are only temporary, so our body can recover and rejuvenate through relaxation, appropriately, proper nourishment, and 7-8 hours of sleep per night. 

But, what happens if a particular stressor doesn’t go away? What happens if more stress accumulates? What happens if you cannot control your stress response? Sometimes this is our reality. As a result, our body enters a constant state of ‘fight or flight’ mode. This mode is activated in any type of stressful situation. Whether we are running away from a hungry lion, or experiencing a frustrating situation at work, our body responds in the exact same manner by releasing a cascade of stress hormones.

So, what exactly happens during this survival/’fight or flight’ mode? Our sympathetic nervous system (a branch of our autonomic nervous system, which we don’t consciously control) is responsible for controlling our ‘fight or flight’ mode. When our body is in this survival mode, it shunts blood to our muscles and limbs in order to increase oxygen delivery. At the same time, it decreases other functions in the body that are less important at that moment, like digestion, elimination, detoxification, etc. This creates an imbalance with the other branch of our autonomic nervous system, our parasympathetic (‘rest and heal’) system. As a result, we do not recover, heal appropriately, age appropriately, sleep appropriately, etc. Prolonged stress becomes a vicious cycle. People want to perform well and take on a lot stress. However, the stress hinders their body’s ability to heal, and then they are left wondering why they are getting sick, or why they are developing high blood pressure, skin problems, digestive problems, chronic pain, heartbeat racing/fibrillation, etc.

 

This is a common theme in our clinic. For example, the senior executive who cannot maintain any semblance of consistent energy because their adrenal glands (which produce stress hormones) have been screaming, “Go! Go! Go!” and their thyroid has been working hard to sustain increased metabolic, ( energy), demands. Their energy reserves have been depleted because their body has been stuck in a never ending loop of sympathetic dominance (‘fight or flight’ mode), thus affecting their ability to sleep well, recover from illness, and maintain their health. However, we don’t just see this in senior executives. Sympathetic dominance can occur in anyone – realtors, lawyers, doctors, housewives, high school and college students, entry-level workers, and so on.

 

If we all have stress in our lives, what should we do about it? Are there tools we can use to manage our stress so we don’t burn out and lose our health?

YES! A good place to start is by partnering with a health professional who can perform a thorough nutrition and chiropractic examination, and help you modulate your body’s ‘fight or flight’ mode.

Here are a few ways we can address and manage our stress:

  • Identify the potential sources of stress in your life. This seems obvious, but sometimes taking the time to understand where the stress is coming from can help us be more prepared with resources and support.
  • We can prepare our body to better handle stress. How? Well, let’s think our basic needs, such as shelter and personal safety. Thankfully, most of us have these. How about food, our body’s fuel supply? This may sound fundamental, but this is usually an area of improvement for most people. For example, if you routinely skip breakfast and don’t eat until noon or later, you are setting yourself up for problems. A body without fuel will slowly deplete its reserves and begin to operate in ‘fight or flight’ mode. This will leave you not only more susceptible to poor stress handling, but also inflammation, aches and pains, hormonal imbalances, sleep problems, weight gain, loss of muscle mass, brain fog, constipation, low thyroid symptoms, increased PMS, erectile dysfunction, gastro-esophogeal reflux (GERD), blood sugar imbalance, etc. For help with understanding how food and stress hormones are related, watch my video on blood sugar and energy on our YouTube page: Agger Chiropractic & Nutrition Clinic.
  • Whole food, glandular, and herbal supplements are great tools for supporting a healthy stress response. If you are outside the U.S., Please work with a health professional to determine which supplements are best for you.
  • Specific exercises can help tone and support the parasympathetic system..( This system balances the Sympathetic system, that is, it calms us down, helps us to heal better). For example, gargling water for 30-40 seconds at a time. Try it right now. Can you feel how relaxed you feel afterwards? It can be quite profound. This is a vagal toning exercise that stimulates a large nerve called the Vagus nerve. This nerves supports the calming parasympathetic functions of the body, such as rest, sleep, digestion, and elimination. Singing, whistling, laughing, and deep breathing are also great vagal toning exercises. Be sure to check out our videos on ‘Super Brain Breathing’! Visit our YouTube page: Agger Chiropractic & Nutrition Clinic.

Remember: We want to address our stress levels because we don’t just want to survive, we want to thrive and have a say in how our body works!

Whether you are dealing with increased stress in your life, high levels of inflammation, or any symptoms that are not normal for you, such as prolonged fatigue, skin problems, hair loss, chronic pain, decease in muscle mass, increased weight/inability to lose weight, etc., try implementing some of the stress modulation exercises listed above ….

AND, Ask us for an evaluation! We can help you find the right starting point, and provide you with dietary and lifestyle guidance that is tailored to your specific needs and goals. This ensures that 1) You are not overwhelmed 2) You know where you are 3) You have a clear path to health 4) You have the best chance of balancing your health, your life!

Please note, what works for one person to reduce their ‘fight or flight’ mode may not necessarily work for another person. This is because we are all unique individuals. However, there are a wide variety of  solutions to choose from, and we can help you find what works best for YOU and your body!

Thanks for reading! We hope this blog post helped you to gain a deeper understanding of how the stress response works and how you can optimize your body’s performance.