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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File:Corporate Woman Being Stressed at Work.svg - Wikimedia Commons

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

 

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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Contact Revolution Chiropractic – Leading  Chiropractor Auckland

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

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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