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Living in Stressful Times

In the midst of a global recession and daily life that seems increasingly complicated, most people would agree that these are particularly stressful times.

Good job opportunities have become scarce, retirement nest eggs have diminished, and energy prices have set record highs. In addition to these financial troubles, there always seems to be a disaster looming, such as Hurricane Sandy or the local tornado outbreak in 2011, or other environmental catastrophes like the Gulf oil spill and the Fukushima disaster.   It is not difficult to see how these and other stresses can create actual physical stress on the body.

Some of the common physical effects of stress are chronic muscle tension, insomnia and other sleep difficulties, frequent headaches, digestive problems and abdominal pain, asthma, allergies, depression, high blood pressure, and chronic inflammation.

Prolonged stress can lead to long-term consequences. Chronic hypertension, for example, may lead to heart disease, stroke or heart attack. Long-term inflammation can result in diabetes, weight gain, and even kidney disease.

One thing we can do to reduce stress is to be proactive and take action steps that support our health and well-being. Topping the list of action steps are the usual suspects - good nutrition and regular exercise.  Of course, we all know we "should" be eating good food each day and participating in regular physical activity, but the struggle for most of us is that we really don't want to do what we "should" be doing.1

We can reduce our chronic stress levels by deciding to take action. It helps to choose healthy behaviors because we want to, not just because we think we "should". The concept of personal choice is very powerful and liberating, and it can often lead to more permanent shifts toward healthier behaviors.

Good nutrition and regular exercise have been proven to have many positive effects on a person's health - neutralizing damaging free radicals, reducing inflammation, reducing a number of health risks such as high blood pressure,1,2 and helping us feel healthier, happier and more energetic.

Making a conscious choice to improve our health also improves our lives in countless ways. By choosing, we become active participants in manifesting good health. Everyone in our lives benefits by our renewed energy, increased productivity, creativity, and zest for life.

Choosing a program of chiropractic care is another positive choice we can make. Chiropractic treatment helps our bodies work more efficiently and effectively, directly reducing physiologic stress and indirectly improving our ability to  manage the stress in our daily lives.

Your Millar chiropractic physician is an expert in health and wellness, and he or she will be happy to assist you as you design food plans and exercise choices that will work best for you. Don't forget that being healthy is a choice!




1Viera AJ, et al: Lifestyle modifications to lower or control high blood pressure: is advice associated with action? The behavioral risk factor surveillance survey. J Clin Hypertens 10(2):105-111, 2008

2Elmer PJ, et al: Effects of comprehensive lifestyle modification on diet, weight, physical fitness, and blood pressure control: 18-month results of a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med 144(7):485-495, 2006

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Neutralize Stress with Meditation

Meditation can be a wonderful way to reduce the negative effects of stress.  And it doesn't require you to sit cross-legged on the floor, or chant or burn incense to receive the positive mental and physical benefits of meditation.  In fact, you can receive these benefits in as little as ten minutes a day, with a simple meditation practice that you can perform in any position that is most comfortable for you.


The objective is not to stop all thought or to concentrate on one thing such as a mantra.  Instead, allow your thoughts go wherever they may.  Just notice your thoughts, and then return to a quiet place.

One popular way to meditate encourages you to focus on your breathing. You don't have to change it - just breathe normally and pay attention to your breath.  As your thoughts naturally wonder, notice them and then gently bring your mind's focus back to your breathing. That's all it takes to mediate and receive all of the wonderful benefits.

Try it now while sitting comfortably in your chair, or on a yoga mat if you prefer. Meditate for about ten minutes as you focus on your breathing.  It becomes more natural and enjoyable with practice.  As this becomes a daily habit, you may even decide to add an additional ten-minute session to your day. Soon, you'll notice your sense of well-being increasing as your stress levels diminish.


 

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