Posts Tagged: Stress

‘Tis the Season – So Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff!

Surrey Pain & Wellness Clinic – Let the Healing Begin!

There is no doubt that our state of well being can be influenced by stress.  And while stress is not seasonal, the holiday season is one where there are extra demands on our time and expectations run high.  It is also the season where we might not eat as well or get as much rest as we normally would.

So here are some tips that will not only help you get through the holiday season, but help ensure wellness all year long and over a lifetime.
1.    Eat a fresh fruit and/or vegetable before each meal.  It will help fill you up, hydrate you and provide valuable nutrients.
2.    Supplement with a healthy fish oil and vitamin C.
3.    Commit to 20 minutes of physical activity today!
4.    Fill your water bottle with herbal, unsweetened tea such as green or peppermint to keep you hydrated.
5.    Relax before going to bed by reading, meditating or listening to quiet music.
6.    Reduce your physical stress – stretch, breathe, and get a chiropractic adjustment!

With best wishes in health for the holiday season and in the New Year!

Surrey Chiropractor Blog on Chronic Stress

Stress triggers many chemical and neurological reactions in the body to help us deal with trauma and stress in the short term.  What happens when stress becomes chronic?

You may not know it, but the human body has an amazing innate ability to balance, heal and compensate for any number of factors that present a risk to our physical and mental well-being.    For the most part, the body knows the right thing to do at the right time.  For example:

  • The body temperature increases when infection or toxins are present (a fever!)
  • After an injury,  blood flow and cellular activity in the area of the injury increases (causing swelling and pain)
  • When presented with a physical threat, our body’s flight or fright response gives us the ability to run or fight harder and faster

Cortisol is the hormone that primes our body for the “flight or fright” response.  It also regulates stress in the body.   However, when we are in a state of stress, healing and even normal body functions are not a priority.  When the body is under intense stress, it goes into survival mode.  as such we are in either a flight or flight mode trying to maintain a state of “homeostasis” –  the comfort zone, if you will – where our body is doing its usual routine, and performing all of its regular functions with a series of checks and balances that keep us feeling good and in a state of optimal health.

When we are faced with a high level of stress, the release of the cortisol hormone into the body causes a number of responses.  Some of those responses bring about an immediate increase in function, where the body intensifies normal functioning:

  • Heart rate (cardio system)
  • Breathing rate (pulmonary system)
  • Shaking (nervous system)
  • Blood flow/pressure (resulting in pale or flushed skin)
  • Metabolism (to fuel the muscles and enable faster response)
  • Dilated pupils (to increase focus)
  • Dilated blood vessels in the muscles of the body (to move quickly and with increased power, to the point where the muscles quiver or vibrate)

The release of cortisol into the body also causes a number of responses that bring about an immediate decrease in function, where the body is suppressing normal functioning:

  • Loss of peripheral vision (to help increase focus)
  • Diminished or halting of the digestive system
  • Bladder and sphincter muscles become loose
  • Halting of the body’s ability to salivate or cry

So while cortisol is an important part of the body’s response to stress, in the short term, you can see that it’s important that the body is able to return to a state of calm or “homeostasis” relatively quickly so that the body’s functions are allowed to return to normal.

It is perhaps easier to predict the effects chronic stress can have on physical, emotional and mental health when our body is not able to return to normal functioning:

  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Increased fatigue
  • Loss of sleep
  • High blood pressure
  • Less ability to cope with stress
  • Less ability to experience pleasure

Can you see there is a vicious cycle at play?  Can you also see some of the things that are most important to help the body deal with stress?

  • Daily nutritious diet
  • A regular exercise routine
  • Adequate sleep each night
  • Daily relaxation and quiet time
  • Regular recreation and socializing with friends or family

Of course these recommendations sound easy, but as life becomes more busy and stressful, we are less likely and less able to take care of these basics that are so important in overall health and well being.  This is why there is an emphasis in routine: daily, regular and each day/night.   A routine is not only important in overall well-being, but in avoiding chronic stress when life throws challenges our way.

So while the body is capable of healing itself from injury or disease, stress can get in the way.

For more insight, read Wellness by Intention.

 

5 Chiropractic Tips to Beat Holiday Stress

And Gear up for a Healthy 2011

Thanks to all of our clients for making our first year in business so special.   To those who have assisted with our collection of food and funds to the Surrey Food Bank, thank you!   We know that as a community we are “healthier together”!   Part of our wellness concept – and a bonus tip on beating stress – is to be social and connect with people.    There are many ways to connect with your community and by  helping others you will usually discover that you get back way more than you give!

Dr. Sadhra Sorting Through Patient Donations with Tiffany Parton, Surrey Food Bank

That said, we also know that with many extra things to do, additional  demands on time, and changes in routine, our bodies are exposed to additional stress. We also tend to neglect doing the things that are good for us – like getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise.  If anything, this is a time of year when we indulge in those foods and activities that  are less healthy.  Even healthy things, like spending time with family, can be a stressor at this time of year.

Did you know that the nervous system is responsible for co-ordinating every cell, tissue, muscle, gland, organ and system in the entire body? A chiropractic approach to health and wellness maintains alignment in the spine, thereby keeping the master system in the body – the nervous system – at its optimum level of health.

We have some other health and wellness suggestions to help prevent or alleviate holiday stress:

 

1.  Sleep

Keep to your normal sleep cycle as much as you can, though if you are behind on sleep it is okay to catch up and get as much sleep as your body needs.  During sleep, your body’s cells and tissues are busy healing and recovering often before you are even aware there is a problem – when your body doesn’t have enough sleep, your body cannot function at its optimal level. In fact, a recent study found that people who sleep less than 7 hours a night are three times more likely to get sick than people who sleep over 8 hours per night.

In chiropractic medicine, everything in our bodies is based on helping the body heal itself.  Sleep is therefore an important part of maintaining health and also recovering from sickness, injury or disease.  If you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t have a chance to repair and restore itself and make you more vulnerable to sickness, injury and disease as well.

Sleep is even more important during times of stress and in the winter months when we are likely to be exposed to colds, flues and other airborne illnesses.

 

Even a short lapse in physical activity can make you more prone to injury

2. Exercise

 

Just as sleep and rest are important in our overall health and wellness, so is physical activity and exercise.  A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that individuals who exercised at least 20 minutes per day, 5 days/week, had 40% fewer sick days than individuals who exercised only one day per week or less. While science is not completely sure why this happens, researchers believe that increased levels of physical activity not only increases blood flow, respiration and metabolism levels, it also stimulates the immune system and helps transport immune cells around the body.

Even a lapse of one or two weeks in exercise will weaken your body so that you need to adapt the intensity of your routine before retiring to your usual activity levels and help prevent any muscle sprains or strains.  Always pay attention to your body and work at an intensity level that is safe and comfortable.  If you are new to exercising and have resolved to be more active this New Year, it is best to start slow and simple, perhaps with a gentle yoga class or a 20 minute walk outside each day.   You can increase the length and intensity every week, but give your body time to adjust and strengthen itself.

 

3.  De-stress

We know that stress – particularly chronic stress – takes a toll on our bodies and our ability to stay healthy. Given the numerous responsibilities that many of us have, and stresses about jobs, family and money, it is probably impossible to eliminate the stressors from our lives completely. But it is possible is alleviate some of them.

Try to find something that helps you relax, and devote 15 minutes to it every day. It could be yoga, walking, gardening, or reading a good book. Perhaps it is sitting in your kitchen drinking your tea, or taking a long, hot bath. The key is to dedicate at least 15 minutes every day towards relaxation (de-stressing).    Soon you may even find yourself allotting 20 or 30 minutes to this practice, and finding other ways to de-stress.  If so, congratulations!  Remembering to slow down and take care of yourself is an important part of health and wellness.

4.  Eat Well

As with everything in chiropractic medicine, a holistic approach to health and wellness is best.  Winter is a time when we are storing up our energy reserves and trying to warm our bodies from the inside out.  If you don’t eat meat, then increase the protein content of your meals during the winter.  Eat winter squash, yams, potatoes, leeks, and onions.  Flavour your food with warming spices like cinnamon, pepper, and ginger. Mmmmm…!  If you do eat meat, you can probably eat a little more than you usually do.

If you are susceptible to catching colds, try to reduce the amount of dairy in your diet. Take care to be sure that you are dressed appropriately for the weather. Staying in cold and wet shoes or clothes for too long is a good way to increase your chances of coming down with the flu.

5.  Chiropractic Care

 

Basically, this all boils down to taking care of yourself – body, mind, and spirit. If you put the work into doing that now, you lower your chances of sick days in 2011 are definitely decreased!    You’ll find that not only do these measures prevent future disease, but taking care of yourself also feels pretty good in the here and now.

And so it is with chiropractic – take care of your spine today to help manage the smaller problems today so that they don’t become more acute or chronic conditions in the future.

With Best Wishes for a Healthy 2011 -|
From All of Us at Surrey Pain & Wellness Clinic!