By Chiropractor Dr Billy Chow
You can’t sleep wondering how to end your relationship. You’re stressed about new years eve. You’re worried you ate way too much over Christmas. You’ve got an important business meeting first day back after the holidays but your boss lumped you with too many other tasks and you’re not prepared. Your rent is due this week, and you’ve just finished off paying last months massive electricity bill and you spent too much on gifts… Does this sound a little too close to home?
As a health practitioner I have noticed an ever-increasing prevalence of stress and anxiety related health issues in my practice. More and more of my time is filled with people asking for assistance with things relating to a stressful lifestyle.
Most of us picture stress as a one-dimensional problem (stress at work etc.). However, stress can present in multiple forms, physical, chemical and emotional. The foods we eat, the lack of movement and exercise and what we choose to let into our thoughts. All can play an important role in how we cope and manage our stressful lives. Let’s dive a little deeper and get a better understanding on how stress affects us.
Stress can present in multiple forms, physical, chemical and emotional.
Imagine you’re wearing a backpack from birth. I know, a little far-fetched picturing a newborn with some luggage! But stay with me here. Now imagine every time you encounter a stressful event, you place a small pebble in your backpack. You fall hundreds of times while learning to walk. Each fall puts stress on your spine. That’s a few hundred pebbles in your backpack. Put a pebble in for every hour you spent hunched over a desk while studying as student and in front of a computer in your job. Put a pebble in for each night of bad sleep you’ve had and another pebble for all those times you’ve been stressed at work and at home. You’re probably getting the picture now.
Before you know it, your backpack is so heavy you’re barely able to lug it around, and it’s reducing your overall enjoyment and quality of life. That’s what stress does to us. It accumulates in our body and what starts off as something benign can eventually lead to serious health issues. The research now tells us with great certainty that our current stressful lifestyle choices are a major contributor to the increase in chronic disease.
The research now tells us with great certainty that our current stressful lifestyle choices are a major contributor to the increase in chronic disease.
Okay, I’ve probably made you feel more stressed while you’re reading this article. Let’s end with some positive and encouraging information that will help you de-stress this summer.
There’s no point in giving out ‘Stress Less’ tips that will cause you more stress, so these are no brainers.
Eat Well – Kick start your summer health regime by adding more fresh fruit and vegetables. Banish those winter-warming casserole recipes to the back of the cupboard and start incorporating more lighter but still very nutritious foods to fuel your summer antics.A cup of mixed berries is a good start. Blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are great. They can be put into a smoothie, served with natural yoghurt or just be eaten on their own. Summer berries are rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins and jam packed with energy.’
Try to eat less or cut out sugar, refined and processed foods. A good rule of thumb is to eat more real food! The bottom line is, sugar and processed foods feed and add to your body’s inflammatory processes. Less inflammation, physically, chemically and emotionally means less overall stress.
Try to eat less or cut out sugar, refined and processed foods. A good rule of thumb is to eat more real food!
Move Well – Warmer weather and extra daylight, provide us with motivation to exercise more in summer. Not to mention the motivation to look good at the beach in your new bikini.Exercise and healthy movement is crucial in maintaining a strong immune. Try some yoga, Pilates or a spin class. Even parking further away and walking more can help you. Studies show that walking just 30 minutes a day can help you maintain and improve your health. Walking regularly
Think Well – I’m not asking you to summit a mountain get into a yoga pose and meditate for hours. Just a 10 – 20 minutes a day of quiet time to close your eyes, kick off your shoes, get comfortable and reflect. Just breathe, listen to the noises around and think of all the things you are grateful for in your life.Have you felt like a prisoner locked up in your office or home over the colder months? Summer offers us a great opportunity to de-stress and to reconnect with nature. Take your shoes off, put on your straw hat and play in your garden.Planting flowers, vegetables, weeding or building a garden bed are great ways to clear your head and help you release those ‘good feeling’ chemicals in your brain. If gardening isn’t for you, try some nature walks or getting sand between your toes with a beautiful walk along the beach. Just get out and enjoy the summer!
Planting flowers, vegetables, weeding or building a garden bed are great ways to clear your head and help you release those ‘good feeling’ chemicals in your brain.
Drink More Water – there are no gimmicks here. Just start to drink more water everyday. A good way to help you remember to drink more water is to carry a water bottle around with you and keep refilling it. It’s good for you and it’s essential to good heath, so drink up.
Get reacquainted with your bed – research shows that even one night of bad sleep puts your body in a state of stress similar to being pre-diabetic. Your body repairs itself, detoxifies itself and replenishes its energy stores during good sleep. A lack of sleep robs our immune system to function optimally, so aim for at least 8-9 hours of restful sleep a night.
Have a happier, healthy and stress-less summer!
Dr. Billy Chow is a chiropractor and human performance mentor. He’s the owner of Vitality and Wellbeing Centre. He’s passion is to help people understand they were designed to be extraordinary and to provide easy and effective health strategies to help them become extraordinary.When he’s not chasing after he’s three kids, Billy is a long-distance runner, Crossfitter and occasional ‘stress-head”.
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