Our minds and bodies affect each other in a beautiful cycle that sometimes gets unbalanced. Chiropractic care and other natural self-care can positively affect both mental and physical health at the same time.
As life gets busy with activities and holidays, we want to take a moment to remind you to take care of yourself, and share practical tips on how you can do that!
Parasympathetic State and Mental Health
Your autonomic nervous system has a big effect on your mental health. It has two main responses, sympathetic and parasympathetic. Let me explain why that’s important.
The parasympathetic response is also called your “rest & digest” state, where your heart rate and breathing are regulated, digestion occurs more comfortably, and your body can do the most healing and repairing.
Mentally, this state feels calm and peaceful, ready to learn and express yourself.
Think about the times when you have experienced this state. Where were you? What were you doing? Maybe it was reading a bedtime story to a child, or on a walk on an autumn day.
By contrast, the sympathetic state is your stressed “fight, flight or freeze” response. The heart races, adrenaline and cortisol hormones pump through your bloodstream, your muscles tense, your breathing accelerates, digestion and healing slow or stop altogether.
Mentally, this state is chaotic, full of stress and anxiety. It could be triggered by a dangerous situation, like a car wreck. However, it could also be caused by the daily stress of an unpredictable or tense work environment, a difficult relationship, or a buildup of trying to accomplish too much with our fixed time.
Ideally, our nervous system can switch between these states smoothly, or blend them for a playful state. This keeps us safe AND gives us a full life of experiences.
But life isn’t ideal. For various reasons, our nervous system isn’t able to function and adapt at 100%.
When there’s pressure or interference on the nerves, our nervous system can become unbalanced. We may feel “stuck” in a revved-up or stressed response, unable to adapt to stressors.
You can read more about the stress response in this great article by Harvard Medical School.
How Chiropractic Can Help the Nervous System
Chiropractors are specially and uniquely trained to identify where the nerves are under pressure from misaligned vertebrae (subluxations.) When we specifically adjust and remove the interference, it allows the nerves to function at their full potential. This reduction of subluxations can even be understood as a stronger brain-to-body communication network.
Chiropractic adjustments allow the nervous system to adapt more easily to whatever stressors life brings. This in turn may mean that you’re able to take on a little more craziness with more energetic generosity for others.
Basically, chiropractic helps you internally adapt to external stressors more easily.
Mental Health Tips
Each of us has an important role in society, and we can’t give what we don’t have. As a health-prenuer, I know that my ability to serve hinges on how well I’ve taken care of myself.
Here are a few things that we can do to get back to a relaxed, parasympathetic response:
- Move daily
- Get enough sleep
- Practice gratitude and joy
- Breathwork, meditation & prayer
- Get adjusted
- Movement can be simple like walking, or structured, like weights or yoga. The resulting endorphins are always welcome! I enjoy a meditative run to clear my mind and increase my tranquility.
- Sleep is so vital to our physical and mental health. Many patients under chiropractic care report that their sleep has improved. One patient in her mid-40s came to us curious if her poor sleep patterns and an “old lady foot” could be improved upon. Her exam showed an upper cervical and pelvis subluxations that improved with specific chiropractic adjustments. At a a future appointment, she said her fitness tracker device showed she was getting into better, deeper sleep cycles as her body became more balanced!
- What brings you joy? I enjoy the simple things: tickling my daughter or her laugh as she’s chased playing in tag. I love watching my son build with Duplos, and reading to them at bedtime.
- Take a deep breath in for 4 seconds, hold it for a count of 7 and breathe out for 8. Breathwork along with prayer and meditation are some of the simplest, most deeply profound ways to calm our nervous system wherever we are, and at any age.
- For me, being adjusted instantly takes the noise and stress of life down an octave. When pressure is removed from the nerves, it can provide a great sense of peace through the nervous system. This puts me in a good headspace for my family, patients and community.
Can you imagine if we all had more bandwidth to do our jobs and care for others? More energy to be generous and kind and caring? Let’s create this’ world’, starting with ourselves today.
If you are struggling with mental health, please reach out to a friend, family member or loved one. There are also wonderful professionals to help you navigate what services you may need.
You aren’t alone.
You may also enjoy reading our post on 6 Key Wellness Habits.
Ready to harness the power of time and repetition? Call 416-967-4466 for an appointment at our midtown Toronto office.