At Chiropractic College we talk a lot about the stress response. The flight or fight that occurs within us when we are faced with a challenge. This is an age old mechanism that humans have had since the beginning of time and has served us pretty well when there were large animals roaming the earth that, should they want to, could eat us for lunch. While there are still animals around that are capable of this we have been able to adapt the environment to a state where we can protect ourselves from this threat and can now keep them at bay. Our flight or fight response was designed more as a short term reaction to help keep us out of harms way. A threat would become apparent, we would react, the threat would disappear and hopefully we would live to see another day. It was never meant to be a long term solution. The interesting thing is that while our environment has changed so much since these times, our response hasn’t. We are still able to experience the same response when challenged by threat, which is a problem if you are living in a continually stressful environment like most of us find ourselves these days.
This is not new to us, we know that our modern lives are somewhat more stressful than they were ten, twenty or so years ago but what I found interesting was a discussion we had in class recently that maybe isn’t quite so well known. Firstly there is two ways to look at stress, the first one is to see it as a negative experience with detrimental effects upon our health. Statistics tell us that stress is not good for us. The second way of looking at stress is to see the potentially stressful situation as a challenge. People who have this point of view are much more healthy than those who see stress as a bad thing. If you choose to see a challenge (stress) as a good thing, then your body adapts to the situation in a much more healthy and proactive way then if you think that the stress is doing you harm. There is a great TED talk about this very subject.
The other interesting thing that isn’t mentioned in this clip but we talked about in class is that the more you experience stress the better able you are to adapt to it. For me, the jury is still out on whether that is a good or bad thing but it is something to be mindful of.
I had never really thought about stress in this way before and so I am glad that this new understanding has made itself known to me. One of the many interesting things about Chiropractic college and the profession in general is that what we do (or will do) as Chiropractors is remove the effects of stress (or nerve interference known as subluxation) from the body. I find this interesting because it’s that time of year again – exam time. So over the next couple of weeks I will be actively engaging my mind in focusing on the positive responses occurring within my body while under stress such as more oxygen to the brain to be better able to answer questions in practical exams.
What are your views on stress?
Is de-stressing an important part of your life?
Please leave your comments below.
- Our Emotional Gut (lions-talk-science.org)