Mindfulness and stress are on the tips of everyone’s tongue nowadays. Large corporations are investing millions on mindfulness rooms and practices for their employees to reap the benefits and increase productivity. Meditation and stress-reduction taught in school curriculums now, because they also know the effectiveness.
It seems the hustle and bustle of everyday life is getting to our heads. It’s not natural for our circuitry to be firing constantly for so long. So how can we help support this new way of life, or at least reduce the amount of stress that affects us?
Here are our 3 top tips:
Exercise/Yoga: Studies have shown that regular exercise or yoga can decrease stress, pain, and even your risk of injury. Aiming to do either one of these 3-5 times a week is ideal and does wonders to support your mind by increasing blood flow to the brain and having your focus set on something other than a screen for at least half an hour.
Diaphragmatic breathing (or belly breathing): this kind of breathing calms down the nervous system and reduces the noise that goes on by getting you to focus on your breathing. Studies have demonstrated breathing exercises can reduce fatigue and anxiety. To actually benefit from the practice, it must be performed 3-5 times a day for at least 5 minutes.
Meditation: once thought of as a hippie ritual, mindfulness meditation is now common practice used to help people reduce stress, anxiety, chronic pain, headaches and depression. It’s widely accessible as there are many online guides as well as apps that can help guide you through a session and all you need is yourself and a peaceful environment.
Stress is just a part of life and how you choose to manage it is up to you. Keep these tips in mind to take care of your mental health and keep your mind sharp. If you have any questions or would like more tips on stress management, please consult with a health professional.
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.
Practice relaxing activities: Walking, massage, deep breathing, laughing, yoga, meditation, and even (especially) sex, which is not always relaxing.
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.
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)
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!
If you are like most people you pick up a packet of food in the supermarket and turn it over to read the ingredients to see if it is good for you, all the while having no idea what you are reading. Eating healthy can seem complicated at first so let’s try and make it simple.
Putting the right fuel in your body is essential for your day-to-day wellbeing and performance as well as longevity. Poor diet is linked with many chronic health conditions. We encourage our patients to clean up their diet when undergoing structural chiropractic care to maximise their body’s ability to heal, recover, and re-structure. Think of it this way, if a builder uses cheap materials to build your home it probably won’t last long. Each day your body produces millions of new cells PER SECOND, so make sure you get the appropriate raw materials for your body to make the best cells it can.
My first recommendation when it comes to reading a food label, is NOT to. Why? Because the food you eat shouldn’t need labeling since it has only one ingredient in it. Most of your diet should be made up of plants, lots of vegetables, fruit, legumes, and grains. If you buy carrots, there are only carrots in the pack. If you buy potatoes, same deal. As a rule of thumb, the more processing steps involved in getting a product from its source to your plate, the less good it probably does for you and the more potential harm it has.
Okay so every now and then you will need products that do have a label on them. The simplest way to approach this is if you can’t read, pronounce or understand the ingredients list, it’s probably not good for you (this is a general rule, and with rules, there are always exceptions).
These two tips can be very helpful if you are new to eating better and you are trying to clean up your act. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the information out there, start simple and keep educating yourself!
Here you are in the midst of modern society. No time. Rushed. Distracted. And eating… really, really fast. It seems like half the time you’re not even chewing our food properly! It’s time to discover eating slowly and what it can do for your health and well-being.
Learning to eat slowly is one of the simplest yet most impactful things you can do to improve your health. But it’s not always easy, so let’s explore why it’s so beneficial and worthwhile.
Eating slowly gives your body time to realize that it’s full. It takes 20 minutes from the start of your meal before your brain sends signals that it’s satisfied with the amount of food and nutrients you consumed. Imagine the extra calories you’ve been eating simply because you haven’t given enough time for your body to realize it longer needs food!
Eating until satisfied is different from eating until you’re full. Satisfied can be around 80% full, which is what you should aim for. When you take the time to slow down and take in each bite mindfully, paying attention to the tastes and textures of the food, you end up feeling way better about what you eat… even if it’s just a sandwich.
Before you even put the food in your mouth, your body’s digestive processes are already at work. As soon as we see, smell or think about food we begin to produce saliva which contains enzymes to break down the food and moisten the mouth to aid in swallowing. Your stomach then starts to secrete more acid and your small intestines start to prepare for movement and food transport.
When we eat fast, we tend to take larger bites and chew less before swallowing. Food that isn’t properly broken down can lead to indigestion and other potential GI problems. Anyone who’s experienced either can tell you it’s not pleasant.
A study served lunch in two different ways to 30 average weight women. The meal consisted of a huge plate of classic pasta and a glass of water. All women were instructed to eat to the point of comfortable fullness. During one visit they them to eat as quickly as possible. On the other visit, they were asked to eat slowly and down their utensils between each bite.
Here’s what they found when they compared the difference:
Fast eaters: 646 calories in 9 minutes
Slow eaters: 579 calories in 29 minutes
That’s 67 less calories in 20 more minutes… which may not seem like much until you add up the three meals a day… 7 days a week. Do some simple maths and you’ll quickly realize that that adds up to 1407 extra calories a week!
On top of that, they found that when the women ate quickly they reported more hunger an hour earlier than when they eat slowly. This means that slow eating leads to less food consumption and more long-lasting satisfaction – which is both good for the wallet and the waistline!
What’s interesting is that they took the same study and compared the amount of water that the participants drank to find that the fast eaters drank an average of 289 mL and the slow eaters drank 409 mL! So they conducted a similar study, only this time they controlled water levels, and found that ate the same amount of food, but an hour after the meal the slow eaters reported less hunger and desire to eat.
So they concluded that drinking more water helps reduce portion sizes, while eating slowly seems to decrease hunger levels for longer. On top of that you get the other incredible benefits of drinking more water such as balancing body fluids, energizing muscles, helping your kidneys and bowels work better and improve skin appearance!
At the end of the day, if you’re eating slowly and drinking more water, you’ll consume less food and feel more satisfied.
Of course, eating slowly is not the end all be all for weight loss and health, but it will definitely help you with portion control and hunger satisfaction.
Should you avoid it? This is possibly one of the most controversial topics in diet and health, but today, we’re going to tackle it with hard-core science and unveil the facts you need to know.
First, let’s define exactly what we mean by sugar. Is it the white stuff you scoop into your coffee? Well it can be, but that’s only one type of sugar, called sucrose. Sugar is actually a group of molecules that share a similar structure, so it’s actually more appropriate if we refer to them as sugars. Sugars are a type of carbohydrate known as “simple carbohydrates”, which means they digest more quickly.
You have taste receptors on your tongue for sugars that tell you “this is delicious” because naturally, sweet foods like fruits are full of vitamins, minerals and energy. Nowadays, there are some not-so-nutritious foods that are packed with sugar. The tricky part about this is that everyone reacts to sugar differently. Genetically, some of us want it more, some of us like it in small doses and some of us like it so much that the more we eat, the more we want.
What does the data say about sugar’s link to weight gain?
Well no single thing – including sugar – causes weight gain. A study was conducted comparing the low-carb diet to the low-fat diet when the calories were kept the same and the researchers concluded that there was no advantage to either diet over the long term.
One thing that definitely contributes to weight gain is an increased caloric intake. So if you’re one of those people that loves sugar so much that it always leaves you wanting more; then it’s a good idea to restrict yourself from sugar because eating it will most likely make you eat more of it and that will increase your overall caloric intake, which can lead to weight gain. It’s all about experimenting with your body and finding what works.
What does the data say about sugar’s link to diabetes?
The short answer for this one is that managing sugar intake is just one piece of the diabetes-prevention puzzle. The biggest change you can make to prevent or reverse diabetes is to limit your fat intake that comes from all the animal products you eat such as red meat, pork, cheese, dairy milk and eggs. Research has shown that these types of fats are actually the biggest culprit driving diabetes. For more info watch the documentary ‘What The Health’ on Netflix.
This doesn’t give you permission to have fizzy drinks with your meals (bad idea). What it does is give you more insight on what you SHOULD focus on when looking to prevent diabetes, which is weight and body fat management. This is backed up by a LOT of research.
So… How much should I eat?
The point of this article is not to remove your guilt of eating sugar. It’s not a health food and it doesn’t even add a whole lot of nutrient value like protein or omega-3 fatty acid does. But you can’t blame one thing for all your health problems. Being aware of your sugar intake is probably a good idea. As a guideline, limit sugar to 10% of your intake. But ensuring that you’re eating real whole foods for proper nutrients and finding a way to move and exercise more often has far greater benefits. Focus on the big rocks before the pebbles, and you’ll find navigating health a whole lot easier.
Just when you think being pregnant is enough to deal with, nature has to throw in the curve-ball of a higher risk of low back pain. Not only that, but statistically, it’s said to start early on in pregnancy and increase over time. This can put a lot of stress not only on the mother, but everyone around her as well. So what causes it? How does it affect your baby’s development? And what can you do about it?
Low back pain on it’s own is a complicated condition. Muscles, ligaments, discs, and tendons are all potential culprits, but sometimes even your brain itself perceives dysfunctional patterns and sends pain signals as a response.
As the baby grows, the lower back will gradually start to increase its curve as the pelvis tilts. The shoulders move back to compensate for the shift in the centre of gravity. Finally, the head takes on a more forward position, a condition called Anterior Head Syndrome. All this happens as the body releases a special hormone to relax the ligaments in the pelvic area to allow for easier birth and movement of the structures as the uterus enlarges.
All of these shifts and changes increase stress and strain on the low back, so it’s no surprise that low back pain is expected during pregnancy.
The low back pain itself is not the concern when it comes to the baby’s development. However, it does throw a wrench in the works when you’re trying to maintain an optimal, healthy environment for your baby. It can make it hard to stay on track with movement and exercise, get high quality sleep, prepare healthy meals (to avoid eating out and consuming processed, innutritious food), and manage stress levels.
Walking: 30 minutes a day should do, just to get some motion in the pelvis and avoid uninterrupted sitting.
Foam Rolling: working on the fascia and muscles will help your soft tissue adapt to all the structural changes that your body is going under.
Strength Training: developing strength, especially within your core stabilizing muscles, can help immensely with low back pain and overall health.
Structural Chiropractic: a structural chiropractor can act as valuable asset in the health care team of any pregnant woman. They can keep the body functioning optimally as well as address conditions such as Anterior Head Syndrome and low back pain. We usually find pregnant women to have the speediest recovery at our office.
If you’ve got a baby on the way, try these out and benefit from a better and more comfortable pregnancy. If you have any questions about pregnancy, low back pain or other health concerns, feel free to bring them up with your Structural Chiropractor.
Why is proper posture so important? Is it for the way you look? Sure, people definitely look better when they fix their posture. But regardless of esthetics, your posture is actually key to how your body functions in more ways than one.
Take muscles for example: when you’re sitting with your head forward, your posterior (back) neck muscle are working way too hard to support your head, while your anterior (front) neck muscles switch off. This leads to muscle imbalances and over time may very well develop into neck pain which can be stemming from degeneration, disc disease, muscle strains and so on.
Now your organs: when your body gets used to a slouching position and makes it a long term problem your intestines get compressed and digestion can become difficult. Poor posture also reduces lung capacity by up to 30%. As you can imagine it can compress the heart and reduce the flow of blood to vital organs thereby making them work less efficient and create disease within them.
Not only does posture affect you physically, it can also be detrimental psychologically. Studies have linked poor posture to increased depression, stress and fatigue.
The overall effect can become global and when those issues persist long term they can take away from your quality of life and even longevity.
“How do I know if I have a possible posture problem?”
Luckily there are 2 tests that you can try at home to see if you have any possible posture problems. All you need is a wall and/or a floor!
The Wall Test
Stand with the back of your head against the wall with your heels 6 inches away from the wall. Your buttocks and shoulder blades should touch the wall.
If you can slide more than 3 fingers behind your neck or the small of your back then it indicates poor posture.
The Floor Angel
Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Lower your rib cage so it’s in contact with the floor and your arms are out and bent at the elbow by 90 degree like so:
If your hips, rib cage, head or wrists and arms can’t maintain contact with the floor then this may indicate possible postural issues.
Try these out and see what your posture is like! If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to ask your structural chiropractor.
Here’s one thing you probably already know: the human body was not designed to sit at a desk all day. Our bodies require constant movement, so any job or activity that keeps you in one position for a long time (ie. office work and video games) can have negative effects on your body. The most important thing to remember above all else is to move more and move often. If you’re struggling with movement or there’s something limiting you, then consult with your structural chiropractor on how to approach your challenges and they’ll provide you with individualized and specific exercises that will get you back on track.
There are certain areas of the body that are of primary concern when sitting for long hours:
Why? Poor ergonomics and computer set up can lead to your head hanging forward for long periods of time. This even happens when we’re on our phone for too long. This position increases straining in your neck and the muscles around the neck become tight and reactive. This can even lead to tension headaches.
What to do: • Sit tall and think of stacking your neck bones one on top of the other directly above your back. Then tuck your chin and gently push your head back. Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times every two hours. • Remember to also move your head often throughout the day by looking left, looking right, and making big circles with your neck (if pain free)
Why? When typing and reading a computer screen, our shoulder tend to slump forward and stay there for long periods of time. When the positioning of your shoulder girdle is not optimal, it can lead to imbalances in the muscle system, which will lead to your muscles not functioning as well.
What to do: • Sit tall and pinch your shoulder blades together gently. Hold this positioning for 5 seconds and slowly release. Repeat this 10 times every 2 hours. • Make big round circles with our shoulder blades. Focus on the part of the circle where your opening your chest and pulling your shoulders back. Perform 10 circles going forwards and 10 going backwards every 2 hours. • Stretch your chest muscles by putting your elbow and forearm on the side of a doorframe with your elbow at 90 degrees and stepping into it until your feel a stretch in your pecs. You can feel it more by breathing into the sides and front of your rib cage. Hold for 30 seconds on each side every 2 hours.
3. Low back
Why? Being at the desk for such long periods of time, we tend to get lazy and slouch or round through our low back. This can put a lot of stress on the joints and discs in the low back area, which can potentially lead ot disc injuries, muscle strains, joint stiffness and weakening of your core muscles which can make you more susceptible to further injury and pain.
What to do: • Sit directly on top of your sit bones and try to keep the weight even on both sit bones. This will create a small arch in your low back which is its optimal position. • Be sure to stand up and walk around every hour or so to take the pressure off your low back. • Try some gentle yoga when you’re not at work. • Perform the cat-camel pose which helps bring movement throughout the entire spine. Click here to link to one of our YouTube videos on how to do it.
Why? When sitting on our bottoms all day, it means that we’re squishing our buttock muscles which can lead to weakness in this important muscle group. The sitting position also leads to tight hip flexors since our hips are stuck in a 90 degree angle for so long. Imbalances in the hip can lead to injuries affecting all parts of the body, especially the low back and knees.
What to do: • Stand and walk throughout the day. • Stagger your legs, similar to a lunge position and transfer your weight forward. This will give you a nice stretch in the hip flexor muscle. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on both sides every 2 hours. • Perform the glute bridge outside of work. Click here to link to one of our YouTube videos on how to do it. Remember that every BODY is different. If these general exercise suggestions aren’t working for you, then be sure to visit your structural chiropractor to get individualized recommendations to get your back on track.