I learned this great analogy several years ago and it stuck with me because it just made so much sense. Everybody has a stress cup, and you can fill that stress cup with as much stress as you possibly can until you get to the top of your stress cup. Once your stress gets to the top of your stress cup that stress overfills, and then you start to get symptoms. Those symptoms could be headaches, back pain, or even showing up as intentional problems or other aches, pains, or discomfort. Once your stress cup starts to overfill, whatever chronic condition you may have gets exacerbated.
We really have three types of stress in our life. We have emotional stress, chemical stress and physical stress. Emotional stress or mental stress would be things like family stress, work stress, or if your car breaks down and you're frustrated that would all be in the emotional or mental category. Chemical stress is caused by things that we eat. Fast food would be a big chemical stressor. Medications or the side effects and interactions caused by medication and toxins in our environments would also be examples of chemical stress. The third type of stress in our life is physical stress. Physical stress shows up as those aches and pains that we all get. Back pain and headaches are common types of aches and pains that we all experience. Even an accident or fall would suddenly put physical stress on the body.
Everybody's stress cup is a different size. Some people can handle a lot of stress, some people not as much. But the principle remains the same: you can fill up your stress cup with as much emotional, chemical and physical stress until you start to overflow your cup. Imagine experiencing some emotional stress because of a family issue, and then some chemical stress because you ate a bunch of fast food over lunch, and then you stepped off the curb and wrenched your knee, so now you get some physical stress in there too. When that stress cup overflows because you put all those different stressors in there, that is when you will start to get your chronic symptom back, whether that's back pain, a headache or even a skin condition.
So now let's talk about some things that you can do to help empty out that stress cup. If it is an emotional stress, try a deep breathing exercise, going on a long walk in the park or try meditation. You may also want to see a therapist or a psychologist to reduce some of that emotional burden that you are experiencing.
For the chemical component, reducing the inflammatory foods in your diet can make a big difference. Things like fried foods and sugary foods cause inflammation. If you can replace those foods with fruits and vegetables that will reduce your inflammation level and your stress level. Another good way to flush out toxins and chemical stresses in your body is to increase your water intake. The more water that you are drinking throughout the day is going to help to flush your system of those chemical stresses that you might have.
Some ways you can reduce some of the physical stress in your life would be to increase your exercise level. Start with yoga or going on a long walk in the park. Chiropractic care and massage therapy can also help to reduce those physical stresses on your body. In return, your body functions better.
We all have stresses in our life, and I hope this blog helps you put a framework on your stress and put those stressors into the three different categories so that you can identify what kind of stress is really bothering you and determine what actions you can take to help to reduce that stress.