Emotional stress manifests itself physically. I see it every day in my office. In fact, what we chiropractors call an ’emotional subluxation’ is when the spine becomes misaligned due to the defensive stress postures people take when chronically anxious and overwhelmed.
Although educated on many aspects of health, chiropractors are no exception and can become emotionally subluxated as well. Let me share my own experience with you.
It started in chiropractic college when one night in my first year I found myself on the phone with my parents who were 5000 kilometers away. My heart felt like it was ready to jump out of my chest due to a buildup of exam anxiety. Looking back I now realize I was having something of a panic attack at the time.
Getting your chiropractic doctorate isn’t easy. It forces an individual to grow beyond their boundaries and makes a person more resilient. Those that don’t adapt either drop out or flunk out, and I opted to see things through. Slowly I learned how to deal with the challenges I was faced with but showed the signs of wear and tear in my growth. Among them was the need to constantly be adjusted in hips and the T1/T2 area- a very common problem spot among students and those with desk jobs who get into hunched over, stressful postures for long periods of time. There’s health implications too- I would find that when I needed to be adjusted in this area I would develop a constant dry cough for no particular reason for example, but chiropractic helped keep me functioning properly.
In my opinion, a life well lived is a life of growth. So naturally after my final exams and certifications I moved onto the challenge called ‘the real world’ and decided on opening my own chiropractic practice. It turns out being an entrepreneur is a lot of work. In unfamiliar territory I spent the next year and a half in an enthusiastic but caffeine-fueled frenzy getting the good word out about the benefits of chiropractic, learning more, fine-tuning my craft, helping more and more people, and enjoying it immensely. At the same time however I was neglecting my own health and well being. After all, I was too busy looking after everyone else! Sound familiar? Perhaps you can relate.
This was all done for what I felt was the noble pursuit of ‘building up the clinic’ but at the expense of my own health (maybe you have your own ‘noble pursuits.’) At any rate, the result of my self-sacrificing lifestyle was: Gaining roughly 25 unhealthy pounds, adopting a terrible diet, not exercising, being absolutely drained at the end of the work day, waking up with a sore neck, headaches, and sore jaw from grinding my teeth all night, losing most semblance of a social life, being constantly tired, getting sick more frequently, being constantly anxious, worried, and perhaps even slightly depressed. Again, sound familiar? If it does, take note. These are some of the body and mind’s reactions to chronic stress.
The pendulum of priorities swings back and forth in life, but in my case the pendulum had swung too far in one direction and had stayed there for far too long. Eventually I burned out several times and got to a point where I loved what I did but wasn’t truly happy internally. How could anyone be with this nasty little gremlin on my back called Stress (a.k.a. Worry, Doubt, Panic, Anxiety) telling me that I was failing, that I wasn’t helping people enough, that I wasn’t far enough along in my business, that I could be doing more, etc. etc.?
The irony of it all was that stress and anxiety was likely what was likely holding me back from having the life I wanted in the first place. When your energy is being drained by self-doubt and anxiety, when you’re physically incapable of self-care because of a total lack of energy, and when your overall health is deteriorating how could you possibly be at your best and accomplish your potential, let alone live out your dreams?
I came to the sobering realization that I no longer had the body of a 19 year-old. I could no longer eat whatever I wanted, exercise little and just carry on without looking after myself. I realized that since my third year of chiropractic college my health had slowly begun spiraling downward. I was sick and tired of feeling the way I did.
A change needed to happen, and so I took the time to re-prioritize my life. I got a gym pass again, I started eating healthier, I delegated more of my work to others, I changed my self-talk and started talking more positively to myself, I cut back my work hours, I started expressing gratitude and feeling thankful more, and getting more in-touch with my spiritual health.
Guess what happened? In short, I started feeling like myself again. I had more energy, I lost a lot of unhealthy weight, I was happier because my concept of myself was more positive, I began to socialize more, have more confidence, worry less, needed to get my spine adjusted less often. Again, the list goes on.
All personal change and growth starts in the mind, and the mind controls the body. The role that stress and anxiety was playing in my mind was that of a parasite sucking the life out of me. When you’re mentally and emotionally exhausted, you become physically exhausted too. You get sick more often, you need to be adjusted more often, essentially- the body begins expressing more signs of dis-ease, or lack of ease in its function.
When I started to try and ‘DO Less, and BE More’ my health really started taking a turn for the better. I’d recommend it.