Stress is a major factor in how your mind and body react to disease, pain, personal relationships, even your ability to reason through a situation.

There are times when stress is a fantastic motivator. Marathon runners, stock traders (the Wall Street kind, not the kind who hear “moo” all day) and college students all perform wonders with the stress of competition and survival bearing down on them like a semi-truck.

There is a breaking point, though, and if you follow those who thrive on stress, you’ll find that Wall-Street traders have high rates of heart attacks, marathon runners have bodies that break down in middle age and college students have high rates of sickness in the week after exams. The fact is, an excess of stress can break us down.

Stress comes in many forms, but realize that your mind and body cannot be separated. The main point I try to drive home with every stressed-out patient whom I adjust is this: Physical pain is a manifestation of mental stress, and mental stress is absolutely tangled up in physical pain.

I have seen people who, by all accounts, should be laid up in bed with crippling pain. I know men who have broken their vertebrae multiple times, and women who naturally give birth with no medical intervention. I have observed these people enduring and living their lives with full function because — and here is the crux — they deal positively with stress.

They do not ignore their stress or their symptoms. They take the time to understand their situation, instead of using avoidance techniques to run away from the situation. People who have a loving, nurturing home life and a strong sense of will come through physically painful situations with success. Notice I didn’t say “with ease.” Dealing with stressful situations is not easy.

As a holistic, natural doctor, I consider popping pain pills on a daily basis to be an avoidance tactic. Slapping duct tape over the “check engine” light will help you forget it’s there, but it won’t fix the problem. Pain pills are just duct tape for your nervous system.

Getting chiropractic adjustments can help you break the stress-pain cycle. Realigning your spine to get your nervous system fully functioning is a healthy step toward recovery. If you are having a hard time getting through a sickness, ask yourself this question: What, in your life, is causing you to hang on to your stress?