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How to Re-Engineer Stress

Stress. We all feel it. We know we experience it, but what is stress?

Before you can work on changing how much you are affected by stress, you first need to understand what it is and how it affects you.

At Structural Elements® we look at the body through the lens of an engineer. We see the body as a dynamic system, that thrives on efficiency. We work with people and their bodies to improve the health of their joints so they can maintain pain free participation in the activities they love. In short, we analyze the body for increased "mechanical stress"

When looking for the right way to explain this, I did what anybody would and Googled it! Here is what I found about analysis of stress: 

“Stress analysis is a branch of applied physics that covers the determination of the internal distribution of internal forces in solid objects. It is an essential tool in engineering for the study and design of structures such as tunnels, dams, mechanical parts, and structural frames, under prescribed or expected loads. It is also important in many other disciplines; for example, in geology, to study phenomena like plate tectonics, vulcanism and avalanches; and in biology, to understand the anatomy of living beings.”

I then went down the Wikipedia rabbit hole to find: 

“The term "stress" had none of its contemporary connotations before the 1920s. It is a form of the Middle English destresse, derived via Old French from the Latin stringere, "to draw tight". The word had long been in use in physics to refer to the internal distribution of a force exerted on a material body, resulting in strain. In the 1920s and '30s, biological and psychological circles occasionally used the term to refer to a mental strain or to a harmful environmental agent that could cause illness.

Walter Cannon used it in 1926 to refer to external factors that disrupted what he called homeostasis. Physiological stress represents a wide range of physical responses that occur as a direct effect of a stressor causing an upset in the homeostasis of the body. Upon immediate disruption of either psychological or physical equilibrium the body responds by stimulating the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. The reaction of these systems causes a number of physical changes that have both short- and long-term effects on the body.”

When you take the word like "stress"; a word we all use almost on a daily basis, you start to understand that it simply means disturbing the state of balance. Which means it is far more logical to work on balance than trying to control or treat the impacts of stress. We know being out of balance causes stress which causes joints to fail, muscles to hurt, negative changes to our health and mental well-being. Stress is the result of an event, not a thing in and of itself. 

At Structural Elements® we don't treat stress, we establish balance. 

Next time you feel "stressed", try this exercise!

Stand up, put your arms out to your sides and balance on one foot!

Picture balancing on a wire. You need good posture, you need relaxed shoulders, and you need to breathe fully and slowly. You must look straight ahead - not down at your feet. In order to stay upright your body will relax naturally!

It's not possible to be both balanced and stressed at the same time. Think I'm crazy? Try it! 

Douglas Bertram, L.Ac., MTCM



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