Similar to getting routine maintenance on your vehicle, routine maintenance for your body is important to help improve life longevity. This is especially true as life situations throughout a calendar year can throw a curveball and cause chronic stress. And if left untreated, chronic stress can take a major toll – emotionally and physically.
As I’ve written before, 75% of all physician visits are stress related. Routine stress, such as pressures of work, school, or other daily responsibilities can wear you down.
Stress brought on by a sudden negative change, such as a divorce, illness, or losing a job can also take a huge toll. And so can traumatic stress from a major accident, natural disaster, or an assault.
Common signs of stress include:
- Lack of energy (or apathy)
- Feeling on edge
- Feeling depressed or more emotional
- Using alcohol or drugs to relieve or forget stress
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping in more
- A change in eating habits
- Difficulty making decisions and “keeping track” of things
If left untreated properly, chronic stress can cause serious issues down the road, and many of these can be life-threatening, such as:
- Heart disease leading to heart attack
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Lung ailments
- Multiple sclerosis
- Chronic back, neck, or shoulder pain
- Chronic joint pain
In my last article, I provided several tips to help reduce stress and overcome chronic pain. I discussed what should be eliminated or cut back on, nutritional tips to improve your gut, yoga, essential oils, and the importance of manual physical therapy.
There are a couple of more tips I would like to cover in this article. These include the importance of quality sleep and getting the right routine maintenance care you need to help reduce or eliminate chronic stress.
Let’s first discuss sleep.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they lose sleep because of stress. Sleep not only affects our mood, but it is also important for recovery. Not getting enough quality rest while stressed can magnify many of the symptoms mentioned earlier, such as:
- Greater risk of anxiety and depression
- Weight gain
- Weakened immune system functioning
- Impaired memory
- Greater risk of heart disease and cancer
- Increased likelihood of accidents
In terms of some tips to help improve sleep, a few suggestions are provided below.
First, setting a regular bedtime is key. Scheduling rest, like other important tasks, can greatly help improve your overall quality of sleep. And ideally, getting sleep in the seven-to-nine hour range is key.
No drinking alcohol would be the second tip. As I talked about in my previous article, alcohol is a substance many people use to temporarily cope with stress. Alcohol, however, is dangerous. And too much of it can wreak havoc on your internal organs and mess with your sleep.
Lastly, no phones, devices, or television sets on while getting ready for sleep. Bedtime is bedtime, and electronics can not only disrupt your sleep, but they can also create added stress.
Routine body maintenance to help reduce or eliminate emotional and physical stress is the last thing I’d like to go over today.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is imperative to get checked out with good hands-on manual therapy every few months, similar to getting an oil and filter change for your vehicle.
Visceral Manipulation, for instance, is a recommended hands-on therapy that works through the body’s visceral system – the heart, liver, intestines, and other internal organs – to locate and alleviate the normal lines of tension throughout the body. This is an excellent form of therapy for those back pain sufferers seeking to improve long-term results of reducing or eliminating pain and inflammation.
Cranial Sacral Therapy (CST) is another type of manual therapy that can be performed. CST is non-invasive, and it involves bodywork that relieves compression through gentle manipulation of the bones in your skull, spine, and pelvis, which allows cerebrospinal fluid in the central nervous system to become normalized. CST is great to help eliminate stress, strengthen resistance to disease and improve overall health.
There are other forms of recommended manual therapy options that can be performed as part of your routine check-up (e.g. neural manipulation, soft-tissue mobilization, and joint mobilization). However, the most important part is finding out what needs alignment or realignment to help you feel better and live healthier. And this is certainly an area in which I can help.
Don’t wait for symptoms to appear before getting treatment for your condition. Having preventive hands-on manual therapy maintenance done can work wonders to help avoid chronic long-term issues that can turn into serious conditions down the road.
If you are in the Washington, DC, metro region, then do yourself a favor and schedule your next session with me today so we can help get you on the right track.
Marge Kalfon, MSPT is the founder of PT by Marge and is a licensed physical therapist in Virginia. She graduated with her Masters of Science in Physical Therapy from Thomas Jefferson University in 1992. Since then, she has practiced in a wide variety of settings ranging from large hospitals to small private practices. She has extensive training and experience with a wide variety of manual therapy techniques as well as orthopedic and neurological rehabilitation.