Pain, stress, anxiety, and other symptoms – we treat it all the same. When things aren’t right, our default is to go to the doctor, where they often give us pills which act as a bandaid and cover up the real issue.
However, if you don’t deal with the underlying issue, other symptoms will begin to appear. It’s like having a car and ignoring the wear on the tires – eventually the steering wheel will start to shimmy because the alignment is off. Your body craves alignment, too. Whether it’s structurally misaligned, you’re emotionally stressed, or you’re eating poorly, it won’t be right until you bring yourself back into balance.
Structural alignment makes sense to most of us. If your neck or back are “out”, you can go to a chiropractor and they’ll put things back where they belong. Some people also recognize muscular issues and how to handle them – get some good functional bodywork, do some stretches, take a therapeutic yoga class.
But what about the bigger picture?
Your body craves homeostasis – the ability to maintain equilibrium, steadiness, or stability. It craves balance. When it gets out of balance, dis-ease occurs.
According the the CDC, “Chronic diseases and conditions—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and arthritis—are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems.” WebMD lists a number of health related issues directly attributed to a high stress lifestyle: heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and IBS, to name a few. The New England Journal of Medicine statesthat approximately 70% of disease is preventable, which means that only 30% of disease can be attributed to your genetics.
We tend to ignore the preventable component of these conditions and just deal with the symptoms – meds for stress-related high blood pressure, more meds for high cholesterol, even more meds for anxiety – rather than dealing with the underlying lifestyle issues.
But these symptoms are your body’s way of telling you you’re out of balance. If you’re not managing your stress, for instance, you’ll continue to rack up symptoms until it’s big enough that you can’t ignore it. If you’re feeding your body lots of fast food and packaged meals filled with high fructose corn syrup and trans fats, hypertension and weight gain are only the tip of the iceberg.
the good news is that it’s never too late to step back and take an objective view of your life (and your body’s response to it).
You can stop treating your symptoms as if they’re the problem, and start making changes.
Here’s what you can do:
- Sit with a journal or a blank sheet of paper, and list your symptoms. Be brutally thorough – list everything, even if it’s small.
- Take a good long look, and notice the patterns. See if you can identify the possible sources of the symptoms. Do you tend to snap at your loved ones? Maybe that’s caused by underlying frustration from work. Anxiety attacks? Perhaps you’re ignoring something you don’t want to deal with. Hypertension and high cholesterol? Could it be possible that your diet isn’t as healthy as it should be, and you’re not getting enough exercise?
- What changes can you make? Start with easy ones – many health issues can be improved by simply eating healthy, whole foods instead of processed packaged foods. Moving your body is another small change that has a big impact; more than half of adults don’t get enough physical activity. If you’re telling yourself you don’t have time to cook healthy food and get enough exercise, it’s time to examine your priorities and decide if improving your health could take precedence over time spent in front of the television or on social media.
If you find that many of your symptoms are related to poor nutrition and lack of exercise, go see a good Nutritionist or Naturopathic doctor – we’re happy to give you a referral to one of our preferred providers. If your symptoms point more towards poor stress management – anxiety, hypertension, anger issues, depression, and feeling overwhelmed – we can help you with that.
The important thing is to stop focusing on your symptoms and start making some positive changes so you can get back to enjoying your life.
(That being said, please do not stop taking medications or make major lifestyle changes without talking with your doctor. Chances are very good they’ll be supportive of your healthy choices, if they haven’t already been gently pushing you in that direction!)