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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Netflixing Without Back Pain – Stretch

You know it happens. You go on to Netflix and promise yourself that you’ll only watch one episode and get off your butt… One episode turns into two… two turns into three… and before you know it you’re binging. 

Or maybe you’ve got a date arranged around an intense TV marathon that’s going to be epic. 

Before you decide to set out on a TV show marathon whether it be alone or with your partner, consider taking the right steps to take care of your spine and avoid any pain or injury that may come your way. 

Steps to Stretch:

  1. Plank beforehand:
    Before committing to your hours of absorbed fun, plank. The plank position helps engage your core muscles and take on the stresses of sitting for long hours. Nothing fancy here, go as long as you can and challenge yourself a bit! 
  2. Sit properly:
    Slouching can add additional stress on your back. Reset your posture periodically by backing your butt right back to where the backrest meets the cushion.
  3. Do NOT kick your feet up:
    Kicking your feet just adds more stress to your lower back and encourages slouching. It’s okay to do temporarily but not for an entire episode.
  4. Stretch it out:
    Try out a stretch break every hour. Here are the steps to what’s called the “figure four stretch”.
                 i) Slide to the edge of your seat
    ii)
    Cross one leg over the other into a figure 4
                 iii) Sit up tall and feel the stretch in your glutes
    iv)
    Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side
  5. Break? Get up and move:
    Whether you’re going for a bathroom break, refilling your wine or getting some more snacks, every step counts. Periodically, getting up and walking or stretching is an excellent solution to avoiding any back pain and should always be encouraged. 

 Try these out and impress your date with these helpful tips to take care of your bodies. 

 

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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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Meal Prep 101

Life happens. And one of the best ways to make it through successfully is to make sure you’re prepared.

Meal prepping saves you time, energy and serves as your friend on the days when you get home late and every fibre of your being is against you making food. In turn, you end up spending less on eating out and having more energy by eating home-cooked, delicious meals.

Whether you’re keto, paleo, low-carb, or standard NZ diet, this simple guide will serve you well to have a fridge full of healthy meals for the week.

 

Prep steps:

 

  1. PLAN: Meal prepping starts on the weekend. Look at the week ahead of you and figure out the busy days for which you’ll need meal-prepped meals. Even if you don’t want to meal prep for the entire week, make sure that you schedule some time the day before to prepare a meal.
  2. THINK: Open notes or find a pad and pen to write some healthy meal ideas. Nothing fancy, keep it simple. For example, you could have some one-pot recipes on hand that can make huge batches like chilli, grilled chicken, roast veggies, and stir fry.
  3. SHOP: From that simple menu, create an ingredient list and go out to buy your meal prep ingredients. If you don’t have the memory of an elephant, be sure to bring a note pad with you or have your list on your phone notes to tick off as you go.
  4. COOK: Schedule one or however many days out of the week to cook. This could be every Sunday that you plug your headphones in with a good podcast and go hard at your meal prep for an hour and a half. Be sure to cook all the things that take lots of time to cook like your chicken, veggies, and potatoes. Prepping in bulk is best because it saves you heaps of time. Slicing a few carrots is as fast as slicing one, so make sure to prep everything you can in that set time.
  5. STORE: Finally, store your meal-prepped food in containers and make them accessible in the fridge. Be sure to also put the appropriate items in the freezer if you know you won’t be eating it before it goes bad.

And most IMPORTANTLY, don’t forget to make meal prepping fun and a regularly weekly ritual of yours. Throw on some music, watch a show or just chat if it’s a team effort.

Apply these meal prep principles and your future self will thank you immensely.

This blog is sponsored by Priorityfitness.

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How To Reduce/Avoid Jet Lag

When flying for long hours (even just 3 hours), we can start to experience certain symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, confusion or just feeling zombie-like.

What is it?

This is called jet lag. It’s what happens when the part of your brain called the hypothalamus (centre that controls sleep cycles, appetite and temperature) is conflicted with its “inner time” and your new “outer time”. Further symptoms may include insomnia, GI problems, joint and muscle pain and stiffness, and reduced fitness.

A New Zealand survey from 1994 of international flight attendants found that, despite being used to long air travel, 90% had fatigue over the first 5 days of arrival, 94% had lack of energy/motivation, 93% had broken sleep and 70% had ear, nose or throat issues.

Scientists have estimated that it takes 1 full day to recover for every hour of time difference. Which means that if you took a flight from New Zealand to Singapore, it would take about 4 days before you feel right.

The direction you travel can affect how intense the symptoms are since it’s easier for our bodies to delay our “inner time” than to speed it up. Travelling east is more difficult on the body compared to travelling west.

 

So how do you manage it?

 

  1. Plan it out

    -You should expect symptoms to take place after long-haul flights and so you should always plant accordingly. If you have a meeting on Thursday morning, consider arriving 1-2 days in advance instead of getting there Wednesday night and possibly having to struggle through it.

  2. Nutrition

    -There is a fasting protocol that can minimize jet lag symptoms. It’s called the Argonne fasting diet. However, it is a little intense, so below is a modified version that you can try if you’re interested.

    -On the day of travel, eat normal meals leading up to your flight, then fast immediately before and during your flight while hydrating by drinking plenty of water. Eat soon after landing as close to local meal time as possible. Time your fast 14-24 hours before your next planned meal in your new time zone. Then have your normal eating schedule based on local time.

  3.  Exercise

    -Most preferably outdoors since it affects your circadian rhythm and improves mood. Light is the most powerful signal for our internal biological clocks, so it can help reduce jet lag.

    -It’s helpful to train at the same time you’d train at home. So if you normally workout at 9 am at home and you travel to London, try your best to train at 9 am London time and do it outside. This helps your muscles and tissues adapt to the new time zone.

    -If you’re feeling exhausted then a high intensity cardio workout might not be in the cards… but a light bodyweight workout or some stretching is definitely helpful. Do what you can, at your usual time, and again, preferably OUTSIDE.

  4.  Supplements

    a)Melatonin is a hormone in your body that helps control its circadian rhythm, which plays a role in when we sleep and wake up. Melatonin is dependent on the amount of light you’re exposed to. When there’s light, melatonin release is stopped. When it’s dark, melatonin release is stimulated.
    -The time you take it is important. Do NOT take melatonin before leaving for a trip or it will make the jet lag worse. Wait until you land in the new time zone to supplement 1 hour before normal bedtime at your new location. Continue for 3 nights or until you’ve adjusted.

    b)Pycnogenol has been studied for its effect of reducing jet lag symptoms. It reduces cerebral and joint edema or swelling, which leads to less short-term memory problems, fatigue problems, and cardiac issues. It has also shown to decrease deep vein thrombosis and superficial vein thrombosis, which are both common side effects of long flights.
    -Take it for 3 times a day for up to 5 days (max 7 days) after landing.

Our human bodies haven’t fully adapted to travelling long distances by air… and they probably never will. So jet lag remains a part of life if you’re exposing yourself to this kind of travel. Fortunately, with proper planning and preparation, you can reduce its effects and even prevent it from happening!

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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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Nature Needs No Help

Nature needs no help, just no interference

Why does an injured body part, a rolled ankle, strained shoulder, lower back injury, get hot and inflamed?

You may recall the term “homeostasis” from high school biology, if not, I forgive you. It refers to the desire your body has to maintain balance. An injured body undergoes a process to bring you back to a balanced, strong state. We call this healing. And it doesn’t always feel good, nor is it necessarily supposed to until the healing is complete.

So, what’s the deal with inflammation? It’s actually part of your body’s inbuilt healing response. The heat from inflammation is due to an increase in blood flow. Why might your body increase blood flow to an injury? Blood carries oxygen, nutrients and immune cells to the injured site and flushes out the damaged cells to make way for new, healthy ones.

 

Ouch

 

Well, what about pain? Pain is an unpleasant signal to reduce movement and weight-bearing in the area to avoid re-injury as your body lays down scar tissue. Just like walking on fresh cement will leave damaging footprints, over-use of an injured area causes more damage.

This understanding that the body is intelligent in its response as it strives toward health is the underlying premise of many health professions, including chiropractic. In cases of chronic inflammation and re-injury, the normal process of inflammation and then resolution of that inflammation gets interfered with. This could be because of a lack of rest and therefore reinjuring that freshly laid scar tissue.

Or perhaps your diet didn’t support the regeneration of new healthy cells due to lack of adequate vitamin, mineral, or protein intake. Or due to a structural imbalance within the spine. More stresses attacked other joints of the body reducing your ability to adapt and heal. For one or more, of many reasons the natural course of inflammation and healing can be delayed. It’s not that your body necessarily doesn’t know what to do, living organisms have been self-healing and self-regulating for millennia, it’s that there is interference to that process.

This being the case the best way to promote health and healing in your body is to assist the complex, natural processes. This is the primary goal of chiropractic; not to tell nature what it should do, but to reduce any interference to the body coordinating what it should do by reducing the stress on the nervous system caused by spinal tension and structural shifts.

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Learning From Longevity Cultures: Part 3

Part III

In our final part of a 3 part series adapted from a TED talk on longevity cultures, we cover off the final 3 points.

 

Nature:

Spending time in nature also appears to be a commonality when these people groups connect with family and friends. If you live in a city this can be hard to do but take time in the weekend to get out into the bush or the beach. The fresh, unpolluted air is great for your lungs and the slower pace of nature can help de-stress your body.

 

They belong to a faith-based community:

This factor may be a combination of many things, a sense of purpose (point 2), relaxation (point 3) and a sense of belonging and community (point 6). Spirituality is an important and fascinating aspect of what makes us human, it gives billions of humans around the globe their sense of purpose. The Seventh-Day Adventists, in similar fashion to the Jewish culture, celebrate, relax and spend family time for a 24-hour period on the Sabbath from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. They call it a sanctuary in time where absolutely no work is to be done. One intentional day of holiday each week.

 

They drink a little each day:

I found this one somewhat surprising, as the consensus on alcohol is conflicting. Some studies say that no amount of alcohol is good for you where others say that red wine has the healthful benefit of antioxidants and beer has many minerals. I present this point with some caution as some readers (not you of course) might take this and think a bottle of wine each night is healthy. Drinking excessively is certainly not healthy, but a standard drink or less a few nights a week shared with friends and family may be beneficial according to this study. If alcohol doesn’t agree with you then I don’t imagine you are missing out on too much by skipping out on this point.

If living a longer, healthier life is important to you then make a point of trying to shift your habits. The combination of all 9 points is probably the most beneficial but starting with the ones you can easily do will get your journey to health started.

As mentioned in part one, this three-part series has been adapted from a TEDx talk by Dan Buettner, a writer for National Geographic and a longevity coach. If longevity interests you, you can find out more at https://www.bluezones.com/

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Learning From Longevity Cultures: Part 2

PART II

Continuing on in our theme of living a healthier and longer life we look at the next 3 common traits of cultures with a high amount of centenarians (people living to 100 or older). Genes dictate about 10% of your longevity and health, the other 90% is lifestyle! This means the power is in your hands to create a healthy and long life. Thankfully none of this is rocket science so it’s easy to start to make changes. Relax: The Seventh-day Adventist community and the Sardinians take regular time to slow down and pray, the Okinawans have a form of Ancestral veneration in which they take time to pay respects to there predecessors.

Taking regular time to reflect and slow down is crucial. Constantly being on the go and rushing fires up or sympathetic nervous system and triggers and inflammatory response. This response is linked with many disease states from Alzheimer’s to cardiovascular disease to joint degeneration. Taking time to quiet the mind and spiritually connect through prayer and meditation is something that people of faith have done for centuries but unfortunately in our day and ageless and fewer people are reaping the benefit of such activities, or rather non-activities.

 

They eat less:

Okinawans have a saying that they say before each meal to remind them to stop eating when they are 80% full, this is because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register the stomach is full. They also eat off smaller plates to reduce the amount of calories per sitting. Digestion is a fairly intensive process for the body to perform, which is why appetite is often low when you get sick as your body needs to focus its energy on the immunity and healing process. It is clear that being significantly overweight isn’t good for longevity but neither is being too underweight so take heed with this piece of advice. Eating enough food to maintain muscle mass but not too much that you put on fat

They eat a plant-based diet.

This point also reduces the amount of calories you consume until you are full and also means each mouth full is more nutritious . Most of these cultures eat a wide variety as well as large amounts of vegetables. The Okinawans consume a large amount of tofu, which has all essential amino acids and is a good source of iron. They still eat small amounts of meat and fish but supplement it with nuts, seeds and beans.

Family and connection.

Sense of belonging and connection is vital. In our modern world we may have more connections but it can be easy to let deep, meaningful connections slide. These cultures spend time with their children and taking care of their aging grandparents. The Seventh day Adventists reportedly schedule up to 24 hours per week to spend with family, friends and God. Make sure you proactively spend time investing into others and with people who support, love and challenge you. Don’t let yourself get caught up with being so busy that you don’t foster meaningful relationships!

 

If you missed the first part of this series go and check it out here and keep an eye out for our third and final instalment, the final three points might surprise you.

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The secret of Longevity! | I got this in an email and prompt… | Flickr