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Lower Stress With Health Goals Focused on the Process of Problem Solving

stressed woman in the officeIf your life is anything like mine, 2023 was a difficult year in many ways. Did you know that recent studies indicate that over 54% of people are stressed by the amount of stress in their lives? That’s a lot of stress!

  • Stress in our shoulders.
  • Stress in our neck.

It’s no secret that muscle tension in those areas can contribute to headaches and neck and back pain. What you may not know, however, is that chronic stress can decrease your energy levels, increasing the likelihood that you’ll experience irritability, illness, and even depression.

Hold on – there’s good news on the other side of that coin!

There are, in fact, some very simple ways that you can begin to dramatically lower your stress levels and boost your energy levels. We have all set goals that we have met and goals that have fallen short.  I would like to introduce a concept that will help improve success and avoid the pitfalls of coming up short and ultimately giving up on your health outcomes.

How Should You Measure Your Goals?

Researchers have identified that the area of the brain responsible for recording our failures inhibits motivation to try again by suppressing dopamine-releasing neurons. This is to keep you from wasting time by repeating unsuccessful behaviors.

Therefore, when goals are measured in terms of success and failure this area of the brain kills your incentive to give things another try.

Another function of the brain that affects outcome-oriented goals is implicit memory, which keeps track of patterns.  Over time, implicit memory encourages you to stop unpleasant, difficult, and painful behaviors.  Because this happens unconsciously, it may be weeks before you notice that you’re off track. This explains why most people revert to their regular behaviors.

Focus on the Process of Solving the Problem

To avoid this common pitfall and set yourself up for success it is best to focus on the process of solving a problem and the joy that comes with figuring it out.  You can be the designer of your goals, habits, and behaviors.  By our very nature, we are always experimenting with solutions for a number of problems that make our lives better.

You keep your toothbrush by the bathroom sink, put your keys by the door to grab them on the way out, and put reminders on the fridge and this works because it works with your brain.  You are wired to enjoy success when you focus on the process, not just the outcome.

So as you are setting goals for the New Year try designing a process instead.  Reframe your goal as an interesting problem to solve and identify behaviors that may solve the problem, noting what works and doesn’t work, and adjust accordingly. Then track your success and celebrate small wins along the way.

Put this into practice with 2 simple steps:

  1. Reflect on a time you failed to achieve a behavior-related goal, or slipped backward after reaching it. Then answer the following questions
    • What was harsh or not enjoyable about trying to achieve your goal?
    • What negative emotions did pursuing this goal trigger in you?
    • Now that you know what does not work, what do you want to avoid doing when you set goals in the future?
  1. Now think about a new goal you would like to set for a desired behavior change
    • What would you like to change?

How to Transform Your Goal Into a Process

Transform your goal into a process by filling out the blanks in this paragraph:

I want to figure out how to ______ (the change you want) by trying ______ (the way you will go about it). If I get stuck or the process makes me unhappy, I will also try _______ or _______ until I learn what works for me.  I will search for a solution and update my thinking whenever I see _________ (a negative emotion, like loss of joy or relapse to an old pattern). I am the designer of my behavior.

The first and best way to improve your overall health and happiness is motion. We know we are built to move. We know we’re not meant to be sedentary creatures, and improving our spinal motion, or segmental motion, is one of the ways that Chiropractic adjustments can specifically help you move and feel better.


Studies have shown that Chiropractic care can significantly reduce that nagging muscle tension in the shoulders, positively impacting your pain and stress levels and your range of motion. Researchers observed:

A bilateral reduction in cervical muscle tension following a Chiropractic adjustment.

Metabolic changes in the brain and skeletal muscles, as well as reductions in subjective pain and muscle tension following a Chiropractic adjustment.


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