The Connection Between Stress and Physical Health

Perhaps my most surprising revelation in private practice was when I began to see just how much stress and emotional health impacted the physical body. As a chiropractor who focuses on physical pain, this isn’t something that I truly understood until I witnessed it time and time again with my own two eyes.

By: Dr. Lauren Millman

In my practice, I often see two types of patients: those who handle life’s stressors adequately and appropriately, and those who don’t. Almost every time, those patients who are overly stressed and don’t handle life’s stressors well, are almost always more sick and are in more pain than those who handle their stress well. The most challenging patients I see are those who believe they handle life’s stressors well, yet their body is clearly telling them otherwise. Whether they are in denial, or simply completely unaware, these patients are often slow to heal, or respond to care at a much slower pace.

Pent up stress, when not given an outlet in your body, leads to disease and pain. Chronic physical pain almost always has an underlying emotional component. “My back aches” or “I have frequent headaches” are often signs the body is trying to communicate that it’s not handling its current environment well. Headaches might be common, but they are not normal. Same goes for unexplained body pain. It may be common, but it’s certainly not normal.

Underlying Emotional Component
I wouldn’t be doing my job as a wellness practitioner if I didn’t assist patients in making the connection that their emotional stress is impacting their health, and in a big way. As a chiropractor, I can correct the spine to aid in relieving pain, but if that pain has an underlying emotional component, that adjustment will only go so far. Often times, this is why chronic physical issues never get resolved.

I don’t believe it’s possible to be healthy if you’re overly stressed, anxious, or if your headspace is jumbled, even if you’re doing all the right things. You can exercise regularly, drink quality water, eat organic food, take supplements, receive the best chiropractic care, but if your headspace and emotional health isn’t well, neither are you. Your emotional health routine should be just as important, if not more, than your physical routine.

Emotional Rest
Take time for yourself. This means slowing down and making sure your needs are met. It’s not selfish to give yourself the emotional rest when it’s needed. Self-care means being strong enough to speak up for what you need. Taking the time for your own self-care is not a trendy fad, it’s absolutely necessary for your health. This means quiet time with yourself. This means putting your phone down from time to time and just being engaged in the current moment. It means less control and more acceptance.

Happiness is an inside job, and it’s no one’s responsibility but your own. You may not know exactly what needs to be done to handle stress better, but a huge step in the right direction is awareness. Sometimes simply slowing down is enough for you to gain perspective. If you continue to go, go, go and push through life’s obligations when your body is telling you to slow down and ease up a bit, it’s only a matter of time until your body forces you to do just that. It’s much easier to make health changes when your body is whispering rather than ignore it until it’s screaming.

For the most part, the stressors in our life aren’t going away. However, we can control how we manage them, and provide ourselves what we need without feeling guilty. Wisdom comes from listening to what your body needs and then providing it. How can you take care of others if your own cup isn’t full? It’s never a selfish act to take care of yourself first. It’s only when your cup is full are you truly able to help and care for others around you.


Dr. Lauren Millman
Dr. Millman is the founder and upper cervical chiropractor of Suwanee Spine and Healing Center, author of The Ultimate Healing Handbook, and recently voted Best of Gwinnett 2019 and 2020. For more information, visit DrLaurenMillman.com.

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