April is National Stress Awareness Month, and we are breaking down the human body, the effects of stress on our bodies, common sources of stress AND ways to manage stress.

THE HUMAN BODY
The body is made up of about 37 trillion cells (ex bone, blood, muscle & nerve cells).  Cells are collected into tissues, which are then arranged into organs.  Organs combine to form systems (ex cardiovascular, digestive, nervous, immune systems), and these systems make up the human body.

Our cells work best when the body's internal environment is kept constant, and our bodies have many systems in place to keep us stable despite changes in external environment.  When the body is unable to maintain a stable internal environment (despite our hard-working systems), cell function is disrupted.

THE EFFECTS OF STRESS
Stress disrupts the body's internal environment.  Under small amounts of stress, the body can correct the disruption with hormone regulation and toxin reduction.  High or chronic amounts of stress can overwhelm our systems, challenging our ability to regulate.  Initially, stress effects our cells, which is often unnoticed.  When stress is high or long-lasting (chronic), our cells continually cannot function normally.  Cell malfunction cascades to our tissues, organs and finally, our body systems.  This is when measurable and visible effects are noticed.  Optimal body function is compromised with this imbalance.  Below you will find an info-graph of common symptoms of stress, and what body system they arise from.

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COMMON SOURCES OF STRESS

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Environmental Toxins (air pollution, water pollution, UV rays)
Psychological (emotional troubles, relationships, childhood trauma, media overload)
Nutritional (processed foods, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, overeating, metabolism)
Physical (sedentary behavior, illness/injury, intense exercise, lack of sleep)
Financial (job loss, decreased income, student debt, rent/mortgage)

STRESS MANAGEMENT
We know stress is often unavoidable.  While we cannot always control stress, we are very much in control with HOW much it can effect us.  Take the time to invest in yourself and create your wellness arsenal.  Some of the ideal stress relievers (working out, more sleep, yoga) can be momentarily out of reach (ex following an intense staff meeting), but there are smaller versions that you can do now for relief.  If you are in a high-stress situation and the relief of a workout is not accessible, take a brief walk.  The change of scenery and increase of heart rate will give similar benefits.  Maybe you have a work deadline and are falling behind on sleep.  A long nap may be out of reach, but meditating or resting for 10/15/20 minutes can have similar outcomes.  

Make a hierarchy of stress relievers based on accessibility and time.  The key is stress reduction, and no matter how small or how little time, any reduction is better than nothing at all.  Investing in yourself will always pay off.  Stress is something that we feel begins in our mental body and overflows into our physical body and function.  If you need more ideas on simple stress management exercises, visit our prior blog post called '40 Days of Wellness'!

Therapeutic massage and chiropractic adjustments are great ways to manage stress.  Therapeutic massages are not only relaxing, but are proven to decrease the symptoms of high-stress.  Chiropractic adjustments are a great way to support your immune system during stressful times.  Self-care is not selfish!