Your internal dialogue influences how effectively your body will function by affecting the stress response. The three categories of stress are physical, chemical, and emotional. Your body has one response to stress, regardless of the source: go into survival mode! Under chronic stress, your body will sacrifice non-essential functions, like memory and posture. This is why many of our new patients describe themselves as being stressed-out. Attending to your emotional needs will help reduce stress and increase the benefit of any investments you are making in your health.
A negative thought activates the stress response, which causes your adrenal glands to produce stress hormones. The stress hormones prepare your body for a fight-or-flight situation. Your heart rate and blood pressure increase, your blood sugar and cholesterol rise, and your brain shifts from logical decision-making (the higher brain) to fear- and anger-based decision-making (the primitive brain). Because your body is working from a survival mode, higher brain functions are sacrificed. Positive thoughts do not trigger this stress response, so you can feel more logical and trusting, less emotional and reactive. You can learn, you can reason, you can remember, you can focus on a demanding task.
A positive body thought is what we call “proprioception.” This means that a part of the body is in homeostasis; it is functioning effectively. Much of the body’s proprioceptive information comes from the joints in the spine. When spinal joints are able to move normally, the spinal cord sends proprioceptive signals to the cerebellum, to the parts of the brain that control learning, emotion, and pleasure. Proprioception enhances the brain’s ability to learn, experience good emotions, and appreciate the pleasant sensations that are part of everyday life. In a chiropractor’s language, this means that good spinal motion is good for your brain.
A negative body thought is what we call “nociception.” This means that a part of the body is out of balance and is not functioning effectively. As with proprioception, the spinal column is rich with receptors that identify a lack of motion and interpret this as an injury to the body. When there is a lack of movement in the spine, the spinal cord sends nociceptive signals to the thalamus, which stimulates the stress and anxiety centers of the brain and triggers the adrenal glands to produce stress hormones. A chiropractor would interpret this as, poor spinal motion is a bad influence on your brain.
New patients often consult a chiropractor for spinal problems, and they often note unexpected benefits related to their mood and mental state. For example, “taking things in stride,” or “I don’t fly off the handle.” It has only been in the past few decades that scientists have discovered concepts like proprioception and nociception, and made the connection to physical treatments like chiropractic.