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Stress Awareness Month: Understanding the Impact & Finding Balance

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Graphic of dice showing an increase in stress

According to research from the American Institute of Stress and the American Psychological Association, most adults in the United States are experiencing heightened stress. Combined with our daily stresses of jobs, families, finances, health, relationships, and more, there is collective trauma on a national and global scale from the lasting effects of the pandemic, global conflicts, civil unrest, economic uncertainty, and natural disasters. These scenarios and more have led the World Health Organization to name stress the health epidemic of the 21st century. 

April has been recognized as Stress Awareness Month since 1992 to raise awareness about stress, its impact on health, and its long-term effects. 

Stress graphic showing a hand squeezing a stress ball

Increase Your Stress Awareness

Not all stress is necessarily bad. Stress is your body’s biological response to an apparent challenge or threat. During stressful situations, your body prepares itself for the best possible outcome – your brain sends out increased quantities of natural chemicals and hormones like adrenaline and cortisol throughout your body. This stress reaction, commonly known as a ‘fight, flight, or freeze response,’ gets your heart to beat faster to increase the blood flow to muscles and other vital organs. This, in turn, helps you feel more energized, heightens your focus, and keeps you alert to potential dangers. Our stress response supports us when we need it most: before a job interview, speaking before a crowd, stepping up to bat during a ball game, and in other high-stress situations. Usually, your body returns to its natural state within a short time with no lasting side effects. 

However, with increasing stressors in our daily lives, many people may find it difficult to relax and recharge. Prolonged stress can negatively impact our physical and mental health because our bodies are not meant to be in a constant state of stress. If you experience severe, frequent, or sustained stress, your body’s stress response remains engaged with your brain continuing to release adrenaline and cortisol, which can impact your physical and mental health by: 

  • Damaging blood vessels 
  • Increasing blood pressure  
  • Headaches 
  • Insomnia and other sleep issues 
  • Weight gain 
  • Lack of energy and fatigue 
  • Mental cloudiness (brain fog)
  • Anxiety
  • Moodiness
  • Memory Problems

Over time, with your body continuously battling stress, your immune system can weaken, leaving you more vulnerable to infections and other illnesses. Your cardiovascular system can become overworked, leading to a higher risk of heart attack, heart disease, and stroke. The increased levels of cortisol in your body can raise the amount of glucose in your bloodstream, which can eventually impact your risk for type 2 diabetes. Additionally, cortisol is a hormone that, over time, can interfere with bone density, which can contribute to the development of osteoporosis. Chronic stress has also been linked to serious health issues like fibromyalgia, as well as severe mental health conditions like PTSD and depression. 

While everyone reacts to stress differently, by being aware of your body’s response and reactions and how it can negatively affect your health, you can look for healthy ways to manage and reduce your stress. 

Doctor smiling with her patient

Benefits of Regenerative Medicine & Other Therapies on Stress

The physiological response your body has to stress is natural and necessary. It’s when that stress becomes prolonged or unmanageable that our body can begin to develop or exacerbate a range of health issues, such as: 

  • Cardiovascular: hypertension (high blood pressure), atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries), heart disease, and stroke 
  • Digestive: irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), acid reflux, ulcers, and malnutrition. 
  • Endocrine: hormone imbalance, adrenal fatigue, thyroid disorders, and reproductive health issues. 
  • Immune System: increased infections, autoimmune disorders, and inflammatory conditions like arthritis. 
  • Mental Health: anxiety disorders, depression, burnout, and intensify existing mental illness. 
  • Metabolism: weight gain, insulin resistance, and increased diabetes risk. 
  • Musculoskeletal: muscle tension, headache, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis. 
  • Respiratory: asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and decreased lung function. 

The development or increased symptoms of many of these conditions, unfortunately, also increases your chronic pain and stress levels. Furthermore, some treatments for these conditions and their symptoms can heighten stress. 

The benefit of innovative regenerative medicine and an integrative approach to care and therapy at Family Integrated Medicine is that our expert team addresses the root cause of your pain and symptoms. Then, we work with you to develop a treatment plan that promotes your body’s natural healing abilities, and restores balance to your overall health. Your tailored treatment plan to manage your stress and pain could include: 

  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is a regenerative treatment that stimulates healing and regeneration in a targeted area of the body like an injured or damaged joint, ligament, muscle, tendon or other tissues. 
  • Cell based regenerative therapy is a form of regenerative medicine that channels the body’s natural healing capabilities to treat a range of conditions, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, injuries to the spinal cord, and other ailments. 
  • Red light therapy is a non-invasive regenerative treatment that uses near-infrared light to promote cellular healing and restoration that can help reduce inflammation, pain, and functionality within your body. 
  • Massage therapy is an alternative treatment that supports your body’s natural healing capabilities by improving circulation, reducing inflammation, promoting muscle relaxation, decreasing tension and stress, and alleviating pain. 
  • Medical acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine treatment that focuses on stimulating the energy flow in your body, known as Qi, to support pain relief, inflammation, better circulation, and optimize conditions for your body to heal. 
  • Chiropractic care is a holistic approach that treats musculoskeletal disorders, supports your body’s regenerative abilities, and restores balance and mobility. 

At Family Integrative Medicine, your personalized, comprehensive care may also include lifestyle adjustments, dietary changes and supplements, and exercises and techniques to reduce your stress, meet your healthcare needs and, ultimately, improve your quality of life. 

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