Calm Your Nervous System

The modern era is beautiful, full of technology, plenty of food and some of us may be able to afford luxuries that were only accessible to maybe 0.5% of the population. This is because most of us now have a stable income to support the family. However, due to this stable income, we always have deadlines and criteria to meet. This may put our brain and nervous system in overdrive due to the constant stress. This state of mind means our nervous system is in a sympathetic state. Constantly being in a sympathetic state can lead to high blood pressure, being extremely fidgety and being in constant stress. So today we’ll go over a couple of ways to calm your nervous system down so you can be less stressed and enjoy your life more:

 

  1. Something we can do straight away is to take a deep breath in. Deep breathing is a great way to get your body to relax and calm down. However, most of breath with our accessory muscles (your shoulder, sternoclavicular mastoids and scales) when we are stressed. The correct way to breath in instances like this is to breathe with your diaphragm. To breathe with your diaphragm is actually easier than you think. Instead of raising your shoulders and sucking in your belly, do the opposite. Drop your shoulders and push your belly out when you are breathing in! This is something simple but very effective, so give it a go next time you need a second or two to calm down.
  2. Spend some time in nature. There is just something very relaxing about nature, it reduces fear, stress and anger. One reason being there is a fresh supply of oxygen when you are in nature. You will literally be surrounded by trees and other plants and they produce fresh negative-ion oxygen which is scientifically shown to calm you down. Another reason is due to increased exposure to natural light. Natural light is shown to improve your and regulate your sleep pattern. We know that better sleep more relaxed and balanced nervous system.
  3. Put down your device. In this modern age, we are often multitasking. From reading emails, typing up document, making an Excel spread sheet to scrolling through social media. Our minds are always occupied on what is in front of us. So drop your device, focus on one thing, and practice being mindful. It can be anything from reading a book, playing music, drawing or anything that does not require an electronic device.
  4. Finally, practicing meditation is a great way to calm your nervous system down. A lot of the time we are anxious as we are trying to think about the future and we don’t enjoy the present. Mediation is a great way to bring you back to the present. This helps quieten your brain. This does not mean we are shutting problems down and pushing them away, it just means we learn to accept them. By doing this your brain will be less stressed thus allowing you to come up with better thoughts and outcomes.

 

Due to busy schedule we are all in now, we are always anxious and stressed. This means our nervous system will constantly be in a sympathetic state and in overdrive. Those are just 4 easy things to do when we are in overdrive, there are many more. Try different techniques and see what works for you!

 

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Evening Exercise Benefits

 

Whether exercise is done first thing in the morning, in the middle of the day or late in the evening, it should be a staple in your daily routine. We have previously discussed about the positives and the negatives of working out in the morning. So I thought I should do the same but later in the evening.

 

Positives:

  • Your muscles are already at prime function. During the day your body would’ve had time to warm up and lengthen the muscles to optimal tension. Once we prep the muscles , the output would be much more. As a result, you will be able to lift heavier, sprint faster and jumper higher. In another word, you will be at your physical peak in the late afternoon/evenings.
  • Exercising in the evening can help you build muscle faster than working out in the morning. Firstly, this is because you are getting the most out of your workout as mentioned in the point above. Secondly, research has shown that working out in the evening stimulates more testosterone production compared to working out in the morning. Testosterone is one of the key hormones for building muscles.
  • It is a great time to relieve stress. At the end of the day, we are often very tired from our daily chores such as work and tasks. Most of us will have a lot of stress built up, a great way to release stress is to work out. Studies have shown that exercise is great for mental health because it releases endorphins and dopamine. Both hormones are responsible for metal positivity.

 

 

Negatives:

  • Although it is a great way of releasing stress, it is also very tempting to skip evening workouts. This is because by the end of the day most of us are very tired and we would just rather go home, curl up and watch Netflix. The best way to get past this hurdle is to force yourself to go to the gym before you enter the house and once you enter, you can treat yourself with something good.
  • Intense exercise late in the evening can cause a spike in heart rate and adrenalin. This may alter your sleep quality in the evening. We can see this in competitive sports or any high intensity work out. This is because your body will be in a fight or flight response and it has not settled down yet. To counter this problem, the best way is to try do something relaxing before you sleep to allow your body to calm down. Stretching is one of the best ways to calm your nervous system down and it is a great way to warm down your body.
  • Distractions may occur. This is because it is during this time when people are usually free. This means there will be plenty of gatherings, hangout sessions or some recreational activities. Due to these social aspects, we may forget or prioritise those events before exercising. To work around this issue, try set specific days and time dedicated to your exercise program. Those days will not be altered against most events. This will help you to create a healthy habit for you to get into.

 

There are many positive and negatives when it comes to working out in the evening or morning. Personally, I’ve always been an early bird, so I like to exercise in the morning leaving the rest of the day free. I understand that not everyone is like me so I would say as long as you set yourself a specific time to exercise and stick to it, it is the most important thing.

 

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Pregnancy and Chiropractic

What changes does the body go through during pregnancy and how can chiropractic care help?

Pregnancy is a beautiful thing as you are growing a brand new human inside of you. However, while this is happening, it causes a lot of changes in your own body too. Different changes happen throughout different parts of your pregnancy and will differ from mother to mother, as no two pregnancies are the same. While these will be different for everyone, these are some of the changes you can expect as you progress through your pregnancy.

First trimester in pregnancy

It is very common during early pregnancy to feel very fatigued and low on energy, as your body adapts to all the changes it is going through. It’s also common to experience some nausea and vomiting due to the pregnancy hormones, these may also cause some emotional symptoms. You will likely need to urinate more as the baby starts growing and starts pressing on your bladder. Heartburn, constipation, and lightheadedness are all common in the first trimester. You will also start noticing skin, breast, vaginal, and stomach changes.

Second trimester in pregnancy

Most women have a lot more energy in the second trimester than they do in the first trimester, and are less likely to experience nausea and vomiting. Your stomach will continue to grow as your baby does. Your skin will continue to change. You may start experiencing pain in your legs due to the growing baby placing pressure on nerves and blood vessels. You may also start to experience pain in your back, hips, and pelvis. This can be because of the pressure your growing belly is putting on these areas, and because your ligaments start to relax to allow your pelvis to move in order to be ready for childbirth. You may also experience some stomach pain as the muscles and ligaments supporting your uterus stretch.

Third trimester in pregnancy

It’s normal to start to feel fatigued again. You will feel your baby start to move more and are likely experience some swelling throughout your body due to slower blood circulation and fluid retention. Some women experience numbness and tingling in your arm and legs due to increased pressure on the nerves throughout your body. You will likely still experience the same types of pain as you did in the second trimester.

How can chiropractic assist me through my pregnancy journey?

As you can see above your body goes through numerous changes as you go through your pregnancy journey. It is important to give your body as much support as you can throughout this time, and chiropractic is a safe and natural way to assist your body to be as strong and healthy as it can be while you are growing a baby inside of you. There are many different chiropractic techniques that can be utilised for the pregnant body, and all chiropractors are trained in how to provide care specific for a pregnant person. Here are just some of the ways that chiropractic can assist you on your pregnancy journey.

1. Lower back pain

As your stomach grows this changes your posture, your weight bearing, and the way you walk. All of this puts stress on the joints of the lower spine, which can sometimes result in lower back pain. Chiropractic is able to get those joint moving and functioning properly, which decreases the stress on them, and regularly results in less pain.

2. Balance pelvis

The ligaments of the pelvis relax and the pelvis expands as the baby grows. This however can sometimes cause weakness and pain in the hips and pelvis. Chiropractic makes sure all of the joints are moving and functioning well, so as they move and change they are still strong, stable, and balanced. This can decrease pain levels and allows the pelvis to safely expand to allow room for the baby to grow and move into the best position possible.

3. Abdominal pain

Abdominal pain during pregnancy is usually caused by stretching of the ligaments that are attached to the uterus, as the uterus expands to accommodate the growing baby. This tends to cause cramping and discomfort. There are specific chiropractic techniques, such as Webster technique, that help to relax these ligaments to ease pain and cramping as they stretch.

4. Decrease pain killers

Anything that the mother ingests, the baby will also take into their system. Chiropractic has been shown to remove up to 85% of pain symptoms that pregnant people experience, thus reducing the need for painkillers, and decreasing the baby’s exposure to these medications while in the womb.

5. Increase nervous system function

Chiropractic is all about removing interference from the nervous system so that it can work at its best. As the nervous system is the master controller of all body systems, including the reproductive system, chiropractic care allows the body to function at its best while it is going through all the changes of pregnancy. This is why people notice other benefits other than those mentioned above, such as increased energy and less heartburn, and why chiropractic is extremely beneficial in all stages of pregnancy.

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How To Strengthen Pelvic Floor Muscle

You may have heard about pelvic floor muscles in the context of pregnancy so you might assume that they’re only of interest to pregnant individuals. Although pregnant women benefit immensely from pelvic floor strengthening they’re a concern for everyone. Why? Because everyone has pelvic floor muscles!

Pelvic floor muscles are layers of muscles that stretch from your tailbone to your pubic bone. When you lose normal control of these muscles it’s known as pelvic floor dysfunction. This can result in incontinence (lack of urination control) and pelvic pain.

Here are a couple of anatomy diagrams for you visualize these hidden muscles:

    1. Female Pelvic Floor Muscles

    2. Male Pelvic Floor Muscles

You may be wondering what the big deal is. These are not like your triceps muscles that you can flash and impress others with… no. They’re more functional than that. The reason you want to get into the habit of strengthening these mystery muscles is because as you age the likelihood that you experience incontinence whether it be from a coughing or exercising increases.

For pregnant women in particular, the risk of getting pelvic pain, which is common during pregnancy, decreases when strengthening your pelvic floor muscles regularly.  It also helps support your body with the increasing weight of the baby.

So how do you work them out? Well we’ve got 2 exercises for you that vary from normal to advanced.

Important note: do NOT hold your breath during these exercises. Breathe nice and slowly.

KEGEL (normal):

  1. Tighten the muscles you’d use to stop urinating midstream.
  2. Hold for 5-10 seconds.
  3. Relax the muscles.
  4. Repeat 15 times.

SUPER KEGEL (advanced):

  1. Stretch your spine to the ceiling.
  2. Squeeze the muscles that you’d use to stop a bowel movement.
  3. Inhale and maintain the squeezing of those muscles.
  4. Exhale and maintain the squeezing.
  5. Squeeze the muscles you’d use to stop urinating midstream. Your entire pelvic floor should be contracting now. BREATHE.
  6. Hold for 5-10 seconds.
  7. Relax the muscles.
  8. Repeat 10 times.

It’s recommended that you perform this 2-3 times a day.

What’s really handy about these exercises is that you can perform these exercises anywhere as it’s all happening internally. So next time you’re bored or stuck in traffic, work your pelvic floor muscles and future you will thank you!

 

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Core: Curl-Ups (2/7)

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3flQvOEOvkc[/embedyt]

 

This video is sponsored by Priorityfitness.

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How To Make More Time For a Healthy Lifestyle

Everyone already knows what to do to be healthier. For starters, eating less processed foods and moving more is what you’ve heard since you were young. And guess what… It’s true! But then come the fancy diets and elusive theories that cause confusion. On top of that, you’re busy with work and kids and LIFE.

If you’ve been meaning to eat healthier and exercise more for a while, believe me, you’re not alone.

What’s required is a system of thinking, prioritizing, strategizing, and planning that identifies what’s important to you as an individual and the steps to get there without them being too overwhelming.

Of course, it’s not easy, but it’s highly rewarding once you start reaping the benefits. Let’s get started.

  1. THINK: Ask “why” 5 times.

  • Understanding why you want to achieve the goal you want to achieve is important because it digs deep to find your inner motivation to keep you going.
  • All you have to do is keeping asking yourself why until you end up with a reason that’s worth your time.
  • Here’s an example:
    • Why do I want to eat better and move more? Because I want to lose weight.
    • Why do I want to lose weight? Because I’ll look better
    • Why do I want to look better? Because when I look good, I feel good about myself.
    • Why do you want to feel good about yourself? Because when I feel good about myself I’m more confident and in control.
    • Why do I want to be more confident and in control? Because when I’m confident and in control, I won’t be scared to go for it and live out my dream.
  1. PRIORITIZE: Fill in the big rocks first.

  • Stephen Covey, the author of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” gave the best analogy for prioritization: Think of your time as a jar that you can fill with rocks, pebbles and sand.
    • Your big rocks are the necessary things in life, like friends, family, health, career, and sleep.
    • The pebbles are the fun things in life that aren’t completely necessary but you love doing them, like playing piano, competing in sports, and discovering your passion for baking.
    • Your sand is all the bonus activities that are enjoyable but not at all important to your survival and fulfillment, like checking Instagram, playing video games and going out drinking.
    • Now if you fill your time with sand first, it wouldn’t make sense because then it’d be way more difficult to fit your rocks and pebbles in. But if you place your rocks first, and then your pebbles around them, and finally fill in the rest with your sand, then you’re good as gold!
  1. STRATEGIZE: Increase your activities 15 minutes at a time.

  • No one ever got everything done at once. When you find out the important activities that you want to do more of in your day, pick ONE of them. Replace 15 minutes of low-value activity with 15 minutes of that high-value activity.
  • For example, instead of 15 minutes of scrolling through Instagram, do 15 minutes of meal prep for the next day. You can even put in headphones and listen one of your favourite podcasts while you meal prep to keep it interesting.
  1. PLAN: Schedule it in your diary.

  • If you wait until you “feel like it”, a lot of your time will be spent doing less important things. Schedule it in and more importantly, stick to it!
  • BONUS: Review how you spent your time at the end of the week.
    • If you did a lot of low-priority stuff, reduce any triggers that make you want to do them. This may require you to move the TV to the basement or limit your screen time with an app. Or you can get an accountability buddy, such as a friends, colleague or partner.
    • If you simply didn’t have time, look into hiring out some of the tasks like getting a healthy meal delivery service or arranging a nanny so you can go to the gym.

Don’t get distracted, stay focused and you will get $%@& done 😉

This blog is sponsored by Little Ninja & Priorityfitness.

Chiropractor Auckland

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Taking Control of Stress

Control? Why?

 

Work, kids, school, money, exercise, eating… What do these all have in common? Well, they can stress you out to the point of ripping your hair out OR inspire and motivate you to get out of bed and do what you do every single day. The KEY is to find your stress sweet spot and use it to fast track your goals, and potential.

Too much stress can get in the way of you and your goals… Maybe even lead to you crashing and burning. However, too little stress can slow down your progress because you’ll get bored. Let’s find out how to hit that optimal point of stress to keep you at the top of your game.

First, let’s go through the difference between a positive and negative stress response. Stressors aren’t necessarily good OR bad, it depends on your response. A positive response means you’re feeling energized, focused, pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone, balancing stress and rest, and learning and growing through the process. A negative response leads to you feeling weak, distracted, in need of rest, not challenging yourself, and can even lead to weight gain and metabolic, hormonal, and immunity disruptions.

 

How do I deal with this?

 

How? Well first you’ve got to recognize what factors are out of your control and more importantly, which factors are IN your control. Also, if you’re stress resistant by nature and have had lots of practice at handling stress growing up, your view on stress may be that it is a challenge to tackle. But if you’re stress prone and have had little practice dealing with stress, you may find yourself looking at stress as a problem to avoid. If you’re having a hard time changing your attitude and view on stress, look at building a strong support network and changing your environment to have more time outdoors in nature or with loved ones.

It’s important that you look at your current stress load and ask yourself “does it have to be that high or that low?” Think about your goals and how your actions align. Find out what’s worth taking out or adding in.

 

What does it feel like?

  • Too low: bored, unfocused, purposeless
  • Too high: anxious or obsessive, panicked, stuck
  • Just enough: energized, engaged, actively moving towards goals

 

A great way to address inspiration and energy is to learn how to set effective goals. We’ll be releasing a blog post diving into this topic further in the near future. But until then, go read up on the last blog titled “How NOT to set goals”. Do this too get started on the perspective you should be taking when approaching goals.

For rest and recovery, there are many things that you can do! A lot of it depends on personal preference, but here are 4 examples to get you started.

  1. Practice relaxing activities: Walking, massage, deep breathing, laughing, yoga, meditation, and even (especially) sex, which is not always relaxing.
  2. Get outside: take your walk outside for improved mood and lower stress hormones and heart rate. Getting moderate sun exposure is ideal and helps increase mood and vitamin D levels.
  3. Adjust your exercise routine: the most effective way to approach this is with a mix of strength training (weights), conditioning (cardio, intervals) and low-intensity recovery (walk)
  4. Practice self-compassion: ask for help when you need it. Get counseling if you’re feeling helpless, know your limits and unplug regularly.

If you follow and apply these recommendations you’ll be well on your way to taking control of your stress. Stay tuned for more valuable blog posts!

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Breathe Deep

In a given day how often do you breathe deeply? In a stressed out world you can unconsciously end up breathing short and shallow breaths, this can reduce oxygen intake and further drive the stress response.

Breathing is an interesting function of the body and arguably the only one that is both unconscious and consciously controlled. Think about it, until you start dreading this you were breathing without paying attention to it. It happens automatically. But you can also slow down or speed up your breathing pattern at your own will.

Rapid, shallow breathing is a natural response to a stressful situation. Deeper, slower breathing is a natural response when you are relaxed. Taking conscious control of your breathing during the day, especially when you are stressed, can help calm your nervous system so it can focus on healing, digesting and creativity.

Try this simple breathing exercise each day to calm you mind and body.

4-7-8 Breathing

This technique was developed by Dr Andrew Weil as a great technique to calm your body when lying in bed at night to assist you falling asleep or to calm your mind and body during the day.

  • Exhale forcefully through the mouth
  • Close your mouth and silently breathe in through the nose as you mentally count to 4
  • Hold the breath for a count of 7
  • Exhale forcefully through the mouth for a count of 8

Do this a total of four times and repeat twice daily to maximise the benefits of the technique. The ratio of the inhalation to exhalation is more important than the overall length of time. At first you may not be able to hold your breath very long so count faster but as your body becomes more efficient over time you will find that you can really slow the process down.

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Learning From Longevity Cultures: Part 1

Watching a TEDx Talk by Dan Buettner on longevity inspired me to write this.

The following three blogs are a summary of his talk with a few of my own ideas.

If you want to watch the original talk head over to YouTube and search his name otherwise stay tuned for a summary of his main findings. Scientists believe humans can live about 90-100 or so years and there are communities around the world that have a high rate of people who are living into their tenth decade. The NZ life expectancy is about 81 years which means Kiwi’s are missing out on 10-20 extra years. What would you do with 10 years?

The main thing a lot of people say when talking about living longer is that they don’t want to be in pain or incapacitated. But what if those years were full of life and joy? What else would you be able to achieve and how much more could you make an impact in other peoples lives with an extra decade or two? The majority of people in these long-lived communities, or Blue Zones (Seventh-Day Adventists in California, the residents of Sardinia, Italy, and the inhabitants of the islands of Okinawa, Japan) are not only living longer but are doing so in great health. In this three-part series we will cover the nine common principles you can learn from these cultures so you can add life to your years and years to your life.

They don’t exercise:

no, this doesn’t mean what you might hope it does! A sedentary lifestyle is not good for you. People in these communities set up their lives so they are nudged toward movement. They live in houses with steps and don’t have conveniences like premade food. They spend a lot of time and effort physically preparing food, cutting and collecting wood, fishing or farming their own food, and have more physically involved jobs. Basically their day to day is exercise but if you work a sedentary job exercise is still the next best thing so that you can minimise the impact of sitting all day. On top of regular exercise try to integrate more movement into your day by simply parking further away and walking to work or the shops. Yep, this will mean leaving home earlier, but convenience might be slowly killing you!

They live with Purpose:

In our culture we tend to gear our entire working life toward retirement at which point we become sedentary, giving up mental and physical challenges and along with it, losing a sense of purpose. Sure, your work capacity will decrease as you age but make sure you retire TO something and not FROM it. In Okinawa they don’t have a word for retire, they have a word ikigai, which means, “the reason you get up on the morning.” This could be a hobby, going to night school to learn a language or how to cook, picking up an instrument, joining a club or group, writing a book, being involved in your family’s life, the list goes on.

To be continued…

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