Stress and Chiropractic

We live in such a fast paced society today that being stressed just seems normal. We are always busy and have so much input coming at us from everywhere. Stress isn’t inherently a bad thing. There are times where stress is important, such as if you have a deadline coming up for work, as stress increases our productivity levels. Stress is needed in situations where there is a threat or danger present, as it allows us to respond fast and appropriately.

Stress is also what allows us to feel excited when we do things such as ride a rollercoaster, or go on a first date. But while stress is important in some situations, long term, constant stress can be detrimental to both our physical and mental health. This is because our bodies are only designed for quick bursts, “acute”, not long term ‘chronic’ stress. While there are not always things we can do about what is causing our troubles, such as a stressful job, there are things we can do to manage our stress to make sure it doesn’t start taking a toll on our mind and body.

 

How can stress affect us?

 

Chronic stress has numerous effects on our mind and body. It can have negative effects on nearly every system in our body. Some of the effects it can have include1:

  • Problems with our mental health, such as irritability, anxiety, insomnia, and depression
  • Behavioural problems such as over or under eating, alcohol or drug abuse, and social withdrawal
  • Increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and increased risk of having a stroke or hearth attack
  • Tensions headaches, tense muscles, and back pain
  • Issues with the digestive system such as acid reflux, diarrhoea, constipation, stomached, nausea, and vomiting
  • Extra blood sugar is released to help give the body extra energy, long term this can lead to increased risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Weaken the immune system and slow down healing times

How can chiropractic help manage stress?

 

As chronic stress is such a common thing in today’s society, and quite regularly hard to avoid, people will be looking for ways to manage their stress and deal with any issues their stress may be causing. While it is impossible to completely remove stress from our lives, chiropractic care is a safe, healthy, and natural way to manage, and reduces its effects on the body, to help prevent long term damage:

 

Causes.

 

  • Sleep – good quality sleep is such an important factor in dealing with chronic stress, as it lets our brain slow down and our body relax and heal. Insomnia is also one of the issues that can come around because of chronic stress. Chiropractic adjustments have been shown both to help with insomnia, and with improving quality of sleep. The better sleep we can get the better we can prevent and deal with stress2.
  • Muscle tension – when we are stressed, our muscles start to tense up in response. This creates a negative cycle, as when our muscle stay tense they start causing pain, which can end up causing more stress. Chiropractic care returns the normal motion to the spinal joints, which allows all the muscles in these areas to relax. This can help reduce pain levels, and reduces overall stress3.
  • Blood pressure – studies have been done that show that blood pressure is reduced following chiropractic treatment. This helps to reduce stress and anxiety levels4. Decrease blood pressure and more relaxed musculature helps the body feel more calm and allows the brain to switch of the flight or flight response that is constantly on during chronic stress4, 5.

 

Causes cont.

 

  • Immune system – chronic stress weakens the immune system and slows down healing time. Because chiropractic removes interference from the nervous system it allows the brain and body to communicate better. When the brain is receiving more accurate information, it can send out the messages that can improve healing and boost immune system function6.
  • Avoid unhealthy behaviors – by reducing stress levels with chiropractic care, this removes some of the temptation of dealing with stress in unhealthy ways, such as overeating or turning to alcohol or drugs. Chiropractic is a natural way of dealing with it that is safe and has little side effects.

 

 

References:

 

  1. Pietrangelo, A., & Watson, S. (2017, June 5). The effects of stress on your body. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/stress/effects-on-body#1
  2. Kingston, J., Raggio, C., Spencer, K., Stalaker, K., & Tuchin, P. J. (2010). A review of the literature on chiropractic and insomnia. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 9(3), 121-126. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcm.2010.03.003
  3. Resources to Recover. (2019, March 12). Benefits of chiropractic care for anxiety and depression. Resources To Recover. https://www.rtor.org/2019/02/21/mental-health-and-chiropractic-care/
  4. Palmer College of Chiropractic. (2015, September 24). How can chiropractic care help alleviate stres? Palmer College of Chiropractic Blogs. https://blogs.palmer.edu/askpalmer/2015/09/24/how-to-alleviate-stress-with-chiropractic-exercises/
  5. Yates, R. G., Lamping, D. L., Abram, N. L., & Wright, C. (1988). Effects of chiropractic treatment on blood pressure and anxiety: a randomized, controlled trial. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 11(6), 484-488.
  6. Slosberg, M. (2011, May 6). Immune responses to spinal manipulation. The Chiropractic Resource Organisation. https://chiro.org/research/ABSTRACTS/Immune_Responses_to_Spinal_Manipulation.shtml

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Slow Twitch vs. Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers

Every living animal on this planet has muscle fibers. There are some animals who can move for long distances like birds migrating through different seasons and there are some animals that can be very fast and explosive like a lion. That’s the same with human beings, some human beings are very good at long distance sports while some are 100m speedsters. This is because there are two types of muscle fibers in our body; slow and fast twitch fibers. They serve very different purposes.

 

Slow twitch fibers, also known as Type I muscle fibers, are muscle fibers that contract slowly. Due to the slow contraction, they do not generate a lot of power. Slow twitch fibers are a lot more efficient at using energy and due to that, they are fatigue resistance. This is because these fibers tend to be a lot smaller and are surrounded by capillaries. Many capillaries surround them, so they support aerobic metabolism as there will be more oxygen supply. This results in muscles that can work for a longer period of time with less energy output. This type of muscle fiber is most ideal for people who do long distance or stamina based sports such as marathons and triathlons. They grow through similar types of training over a period of time.

cont.

There are two types of fast twitch muscle fibers; moderate (Type IIA) and intense (TypeIIB). Type IIB being the larger one. However, both these fibers are larger in comparison to the Type I slow twitch fibers. Due to the larger size, they are able to produce more force however they need more oxygen to sustain them. Unfortunately, these large twitch muscle fibers are not surrounded by as many capillaries as the slow twitch fiber which makes them easier to fatigue. These muscle fibers are more effective for people who often do more explosive movements such as sprinters, weight lifters and jumpers. These muscles grow through resistance training.

 

What’s very interesting is even though if the sport demands mostly slow twitch fibers, small amounts fast twitch fibers are also recruited. This is because in the action of each movement a small amount of explosive strength comes out. In sports that require plenty of fast twitch fiber, once the primary fiber fatigues, your body will naturally push the small twitch fiber to do carry on the job. This is why it is important to train both types of muscle fibers.

 

The amount of fast twitch and slow twitch fiber is predetermined by genetics and at a young age. However, it is not said that they cannot be changed. Many of this is determined by the amount and type of training done. That being said changing between the two types of fast twitch fiber and from fast twitch to slow twitch can be achieved with much more ease compared to altering from slow to fast twitch fiber. However, this does not mean it cannot be done. As long as hard work reigns supreme, and by being consistent with the type of training.

 

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Ready to workout? Think again…

 

Warming up before a workout is even more important than you think!

 

How many times have we just jumped into exercising without warming up properly? How many times have we got injured? Well, the two things mentioned above, warming up and getting hurt, go hand in hand. Warming up is extremely important due to a couple of reasons. Firstly, it can help loosen up our joints, muscles, and ligaments. Secondly, it can raise the body temperature and increase blood flow to muscles. Finally, it can help improve our performance in whatever form of exercise.

Warming up is extremely important for the body to prevent injury. Having a good warm-up can help loosen the joints, muscles, and ligaments in our body and stimulate our nervous system. Before we start exercising, our body is stiff, and we cannot move as smoothly as we would like. This puts us in a state which is more fragile. As we warm up, our joints, muscles and ligaments begin to have more laxity gradually. This is because warming up can stimulate the body to create more synovial fluids around the joint, which means we will not be suddenly overstressing any part of the body.

Additionally, it will also increase the speed that nerve impulses travel, leading to improved balance, motor control, coordination, and proprioception. All those components are crucial for doing any sports as it helps with performance and avoiding injuries. As a result, warming up can decrease the likelihood of overstressing your body and minimize any falls or accidents.

 

Functions of Temperature 

 

Warming up our bodies before we exercise can also raise the core body temperature and increase blood flow to muscles. When the body transitions from everyday life to high-intensity physical workout, a host of biological changes happens to our body. That’s why it’s good to ease into it. During our warm-up, breathing and heart rate gradually rise, leading to an increase of energy increase. Due to the increase in energy exertion, the body gradually warms up. Additionally, with heart rate rising, the muscles will be supplied with more oxygen. This results in a higher metabolism as the body will need more energy to function at its capacity. Having a warmer body temperature for our muscles can lead to increase elasticity in the muscles again, this can result in decreasing the chances of any injuries

.

Effects on workout

 

Finally, warming up can increase our performance. This is due to two reasons; the alterations in the body and the change in mentality. As mentioned in the paragraph above, a good warm-up can increase our metabolism, helping reach one’s performance potential. A thorough warm-up can change our mindset and mentally prepare for the upcoming task. With most sports and workout, it requires high levels of alertness and concentration. This adjustment in mindset can enhance the concentration on technique. With better technique again, it can lead to a decrease in injury. Andrea Pirlo, a famous footballer once said, “We play football with the head. Your feet are just tools.” This quote cannot more relatable with any sports or workout. The first change that occurs should be in your mind before you start performing. This is where an excellent warm-up comes into play.

Warming up is often overlooked by many amateurs or people who have just started to exercise. It can be argued it may be one of the most important aspects of the workout. Warming up properly can help loosen the muscles, ligament, and joints in the body, and it can help raise our core body temperature. Both of these can diminish the chances of injury. Most importantly, though, it can help mentally prepare us for the workout, exercise, and game that’s coming up. So before jumping straight into it next time, arrive 15 minutes earlier to prepare and get a good quality warm-up.

 

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Get Out Into Nature

Weekend getaway

How good does it feel to get a long weekend escape from the city and go to the bush or the beach? Judging by how empty Auckland got as Easter and Anzac day collided I think most of us wish we could spend more time in the beauty of nature!

While experiencing the relaxing and revitalizing effect of nature, and there is a growing body of science behind the health benefits of getting outside among the trees.

A Japanese study on spending time in forests showed a decrease in cortisol levels (a stress hormone), a decrease in sympathetic nervous activity (your fight and flight system), a decrease in blood pressure, and a decrease in heart rate.

Measurable effects on the immune system have been shown in another Japanese study on an activity known as forest bathing. It sounds weird, I know, it simply involves spending time in the forest whilst smelling wood essential oils. This study also showed a significant increase (23%) in activity of natural killer cells (immune cells). These positive effects persisted even after a month of returning to city living!

Take every opportunity it get outside by visiting parks, beaches, walkways, and the bush. There are so many places to go in Auckland to escape the feeling of being a caged animal indoors all the time. Thankfully, all the great outdoors gives you these effects for free!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21996763

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Core: 7 Exercises

Core: 7 Exercises

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjEpyNWulh0[/embedyt]

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Core: Side Plank (4/7)

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The Busy Person’s Workout

 

If you’ve had no time during the week and you’re looking to fit in a quick, solid sweat, here’s your go-to do anywhere workout. It’s a great way to maintain muscle mass, keep your metabolism going and more!

Full-body movement everyday is important whether it be cycling, running, climbing, walking or this awesomely time-efficient workout. Here it is:

  • 5 reps of each of the following 5 movements = 1 circuit.
  • Repeat for a total of 3 circuits (add or subtract 1 based on your conditioning level and available time).
  • 1-2 minutes rest between circuits.

Squat

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart and arms out in front of you.
  • Keep your core engaged and your tailbone tucked in.
  • Lower yourself by pushing your hips back and keeping your feet pointing straight.
  • Push weight through your heels and midfoot when pushing yourself back upright.
  • Increase difficulty
    • Add more reps.
    • Hold something decently heavy like a dumbbell or a bag full of things.

 

 

Push-Up

  • Start on the floor with your arms extended in front of you, your hands directly under your shoulders and your fingers pointing forward.
  • Maintain a straight line form your head to your heels.
  • Keep your elbows in and externally rotate your hands so that your elbow creases are pointing forward (imagine twisting the ground outward) and lower yourself.
  • Increase difficulty
    • Add more reps.

 

 

 

Good Mornings

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart and arms behind your head.
  • Keep your core tight, back straight, knees slightly bent and weight on your heels.
  • Bend at the waist by pushing your hips back until you feel a little stretch in your hamstrings (behind your thighs).
  • Increase difficulty
  • Extend your arms up overhead.
  • Loop a resistance band behind your neck with the other end under your feet.

 

 

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

  • Find a chair and get into a split stance with your right foot forward (knee bent) and left foot straight and back. Place your right hand on the chair and hold the weight in your left hand.
  • Keep your core tight, tailbone tucked and weight on your front foot (right) heel.
  • Pull weight to your lower ribs and lock your shoulder blade down.
  • Complete 5 reps on each side.
  • Increase difficulty:
    • Add more reps.
    • Add more weight.

 

 

Bear Crawl

  • Start on all fours.
  • Push with toes to bring your knees off the floor.
  • Keep pelvis stable and centred.
  • Crawl with your right arm and left leg moving up together.
  • Do the same on the other side.
  • That’s one rep.
  • Increase difficulty:
    • Add more reps.

 

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Strength

Exercise is something you probably know you should do but may not really enjoy and that could be for a variety of reasons; it’s hard, you don’t have time, you don’t know what you are doing, it’s boring, you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere even when you try, the list goes on. Evidence and common sense both agree that a fitter, stronger person is a healthier person. You probably want to be that person but don’t know how to get there.

This year will be my 9th year of strength training and the more I learn through experience and reading, the more I enjoy it. Maybe I’m crazy, or perhaps I’ve managed to find a sweet spot by making something that’s necessary for health into a hobby. I encourage you to change your mindset and view your health and strength, as a project to improve rather than something boring you should do.

The reality is that becoming stronger and healthier is simple but it takes discipline and consistently doing the RIGHT things. Many people start with good intentions of getting in shape, however, give up because they failed to see progress.

 

Strength Training

 

Lots of gimmicky ‘get fit quick’ schemes promising fitness and strength in 4 weeks, or even 12 weeks. Yes, you may see some change within that period but to build real strength and fitness it must become part of your lifestyle. It needs to become something you view as a ‘must’ not just a ‘should’.  However, you need not spend 5 or 6 days a week in the gym to get stronger, 3 days per week is sufficient.

Strength is probably the most important aspect of physical capacity. The most effective way to achieve this is through well-planned strength training. Getting stronger is simple, do something a little harder each time you train and your body will adapt. There are many ways to do this. I am an advocate of the Stronglifts 5×5 method, it’s how I began my strength journey. Simple principles are what guides these training methods; use full-body movements (squat, deadlift, press, row), start light, slowly increase the weight over time, train 3 days per week.

The most enjoyable aspect is that you see progress in every session as you watch the weights you lift increase. This is why I believe it grew into a hobby for me. I became addicted to the progression, and the feeling I was achieving something every time I went to the gym. The training program is free and available on the Stronglifts 5×5 website. It has videos and written guides on how to perform the lifts and program, and even a free app. It is simple yet hard work, but hard work pays off.

I highly recommend that you check the program out, it may be the best decision you ever make!

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The Importance Of Sleep

It seems like everyone is so focused on their intense exercise regimens and nutritional plans to realize that they’ve forgotten about getting quality sleep!

Sleep is absolutely crucial to health and survival and the hard truth is that you’re not likely getting enough of it. Although most of us may feel like this is due to high work demands and our brains not being able to shut off, the real reason for lack of sleep is actually due to our own decision to delay our sleep over some other thing that we’re prioritizing. We go out with friends, we watch TV, we scroll through social media. This behavior is unique to modern society. The average duration of sleep 100 years ago was 9 hours.

Studies have shown that later bedtimes and shorter sleeping hours result in hormone release that triggers hunger and greater levels of body fat accumulation. This was even demonstrated in children as a study followed 9000 of them from birth and showed that those that slept the least at a younger age were more likely to be obese at a later age than the children who slept more. It’s not clear whether lack of sleep leads to obesity or vice versa, but one thing is for sure, staying up later means more opportunity for late night snacks and when you mix that with increased hunger hormones your caloric intake skyrockets.

It doesn’t just stop there. With that extra weight gain, you’re more susceptible to insulin resistance, glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes. One study even showed that young healthy men who slept 4 hours each night for 6 nights straight had the insulin sensitivity of a 70 year old pre-diabetic! On top of that, getting less than 7.5 hours of sleep each night means that your risk of heart attack, stroke and sudden cardiac death is higher than those who get adequate amounts of sleep. Drowsiness can also interfere with your daily functions including your mood, cognition, and memory.

If that doesn’t make you want to get your sleep together, then I don’t know what will! But there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that sleep debt is cumulative. Meaning, the more nights you have with less sleep, the greater your risk of negative effects. The good news is that you can catch up with just a few consistent nights of adequate sleep.

Optimal sleeping pattern factors:

  • Consistency: keep a similar bedtime and wake up time every day
  • Light: keep the bedroom extremely dark when it’s bedtime
  • Noise: keep it very quiet or use something for white noise, like a fan
  • Routine: develop a routine before bed that helps you wind down. This can include meditation, stretching, camomile tea or whatever helps you! Check out our bedtime stretches on YouTube by clicking here.
  • Temperature:Keep the room slightly cool, between 18-22 degrees.

For more tips on sleeping better or getting a more restfully, check out our blog on the first pillar of health: “Napping Well” by clicking here.

You can also check out our “7 Tips To Improve Your Sleep” YouTube video by clicking here.  

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Does sleep really keep you healthy? > Air Education and Training Command > News

Pillar No. 4: Stress Less, Be Well

Introduction

“The best time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”

I think we can all relate with this quote. You find yourself halfway through the week swamped with a long list of to-dos and no end in sight… Except for maybe a vacation here and there, but let’s be honest, most of us fill those vacations days with just as much stuff to do as when we’re not on vacation.

I’ll let you in on a little secret to “The Art of De-Stressing”: building daily recovery time. Now the key word here is “building” because you won’t be able to do it all at once to begin with… If you’ve always been on the go, it’ll actually be a bit of a challenge for you to stop for a bit. So start with a little bit of downtime and build from there until you find a way to fit all your other stuff around your daily rest time.

 

Tips to stress less

 

Why rest?

Now for the important question: why do we want to build in daily rest time? Well it has to do with our brain, because you see, our brain function can be broken down into two categories: sympathetic activity (“fight or flight” activity) and parasympathetic activity (“rest and digest” activity).

Most of us tend to be in too much of a sympathetic state, whether it be from our jobs, the kids, our relationships, the bills and any other stressor that takes us to that state. When our body’s are in this “fight or flight” state our adrenal glands produce high levels of circulating cortisol and adrenaline, which are good for short term bursts of energy when trying to get away from a threat like a lion chasing us. But when stress is chronically high it can interfere with certain body functions, such as our digestion, metabolism, immune function and reproduction. If this continues it can result in our hormones being thrown out of whack, reproductive dysfunction, muscle loss, fat gain and even chronic fatigue, which does not make for a happy you at all.

 

Now, what can we do to prevent this sympathetic overdrive from happening in the first place?

Keyword: balance. There’s no way you can reduce all the stressors in your life. In fact, you don’t really want to because a certain amount of stress is actually good for us. Instead, you want to focus on finding more activities that promote your parasympathetic state.

 

Luckily for you, there are all sorts of activities that can help with this:

  • Yoga and Pilates: certain types are known to be very parasympathetic.
  • Meditation: offers huge help with rest and recovery.
  • Spa: can help you achieve a deep parasympathetic state.
  • Jacuzzi/Sauna: much like the spa can help you deal with stress.

 

Even if those aren’t feasible options for you due to affordability or time, there are many activities that can be done at home:

  • Reading: find a quiet spot to read 30 minutes before bed.
  • Zoning out: drink warm tea and watching an episode of your favorite Netflix series is a great way to wind down.
  • Music: listening to relaxing music before bed.
  • Bath and Candles: light some candles while having an Epsom salt bath before bed.

Just remember that it doesn’t matter what activity you choose, as long as you achieve a nice parasympathetic state while doing it. Find the activities that can help you get 30 minutes of quiet, restful, worry-free parasympathetic activity every single day and it’ll do wonders for getting control of your stress.

 

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