SABRE TOOTH TIGERS AND LOTTO WINS
Dealing with stress.
Stress, the anxiety laden bane of modern societies the world over. Well, not so, at least in the context of our physiological wellbeing. Stress is necessary for the health and balance of our bodies. Over the millennia of our evolution we have developed a very complicated set of behavioural traits and responses to ‘stressors’, whatever form they may take. Whether it be a sabre tooth tiger chasing our great ancestors across the savannah or your spouse winning the lotto, a series of physiological reactions occur that we often label ‘stress’. These reactions may preserve our lives or at least allow us to take the appropriate course of action. So, stress is our bodies reaction to events rather than the event itself. This concept implies that we have some control over our levels of stress. As everyone knows this is very true. The famous physiologist, Hans Selye described two reaction states that our bodies undergo when in under stress.
The first is the state we enter when faced by an immediate stress. The so called acute phase of our reaction, the Local Adaptation Syndrome or LAS. This state is characterised by high levels of arousal, a flood of hormone and facilitation of the nervous system. This is the ‘fear, flight or fight mechanism. It gears us for action, diverting blood from the digestive organs to the muscles preparing us for defence or fleeing. Escaping the jaws of the sabre tooth tiger is one example of a stressor that may produce this response. This state consumes a great deal of the bodies recourses very quickly and cannot be sustained over long periods. If the stressors that initiate the LAS continue, the person may enter the other reaction state described by Selye, the General Adaptation Syndrome or GAS. The GAS is common in our society where stressors may be subtle, prolonged and difficult to resolve. Continuing our example, a ‘sabre tooth’ boss in the office may cause ongoing, frequent stress that is problematic to resolve. The GAS places continual demand on the body, however, it is under resourced. This is the chronic presentation of exhausted leading to reduced capacity and eventually chronic illness.
Illness can manifest in a myriad of syndromes. It is important to keep in mind that the GAS is playing a large part in the development of these symptoms and must be addressed in whatever intervention is used to treat the patient. Chiropractic and Osteopathy assist the body to gain control of these syndromes by reducing the stimulating and facilitating effects of mechanical irritation of the nervous system. By removing mechanical dysfunction, thereby allowing normal transmission of nerve impulses, these therapies can help greatly in reducing both local and overall excess stimulation of the nervous system. At the moment, Beyond Blue, the organization that provides information about depression is running an awareness program for anxiety. This is an important initiative and worthy of support. Their web site can be found at: www.beyondblue.org