When we think about getting healthy, we tend to focus on what we should add to our diet, or our routine. We think about exercising more, eating more fruits and vegetables. But what about those things that we should eliminate?
I’m sure you’ve heard of addition by subtraction, and that’s really the gist of this article. And the thing we’re focusing on subtracting from our lives is stress, but not just the emotional stress. All stress!
Our modern world is full of comfort and convenience for most. Unfortunately, it’s also very toxic. From the thousands of harmful chemicals that are all around us, to the physical stress our bodies absorb, the key to being healthy in 2018 is reducing as much emotional, chemical, and physical stress as you can.
Reducing Negative Thoughts
When most of us think about stress, this is the type of stress that comes to mind – rush-hour traffic, a boss that takes pleasure in our misery, worries and concerns about the future, personal relationships that aren’t working, etc.
Our stress response is meant to be used for emergencies, as in fight or flight. Let’s say you’re hiking, and you spot a grizzly bear. Oh, isn’t he cute, you think, as you reach for your phone and walk closer. Except the grizzly doesn’t want to be photographed and begins chasing you. Now that’s an appropriate reason for stress.
It’s also short-term stress. Once the threat subsides, so does the elevated stress response. What isn’t normal is remaining in this elevated state when there’s no reason to. That’s called chronic stress. And chronic stress really takes a toll on your nervous system, thereby increasing your ability to become ill or diseased.
The first step is recognizing when you’re in this state of stress, and then doing something to change it. Because you cannot control rush-hour traffic. And you certainly can’t control the actions of your boss. But you can control the way you respond to both.
Focus on lifestyle changes that improve the mind/body connection – meditation, mindfulness practice, tai chi, yoga, qi gung. Though, any exercise is great, as it raises endorphins and improves sleep, both of which contribute to better emotional health.
Develop a deep-breathing practice and use those techniques when you do become over-stressed. When you become stressed-out, your breathing becomes naturally shallow. Breathe deep several times, and watch your stress begin to melt away.
Reducing Exposure to Toxins
Did you know that there are more than 75,000 chemicals licensed in the U.S.? Many of these are hormonal disrupters. Others are classified as poisonous. And some are even carcinogenic, which literally means cancer-causing.
In our modern world it’s impossible to insulate yourself completely. The key is to limit your exposure, and that begins by knowing where to look for toxins.
The three biggest offenders are your food, your hygiene products, and your cleaning products. Begin by reading labels. When it comes to your diet, if you stick to organic, whole foods, you’ll be fine. When it comes to cleaning or hygiene products, you have two choices: spend more money or make your own.
Since air and water are two things we can’t live without for very long, try improving your quality of both. An air purifier is nice, but you can achieve the same thing with a dozen houseplants that are particularly good at purifying the air. And when it comes to your water, you can purchase better quality water or purify your tap water.
It should be mentioned that your shower water is actually a much bigger concern than you may realize. When the water is hot, your pores open up. If there are contaminants in the water, they’ll go right into your body through your skin.
Speaking of which, sweating out toxins is a great strategy. Just be aware that dead skin cells clog pores. Which means those toxins you think you’re sweating out, may be actually going back into your body due to a traffic jam of dead skin. But fear not, dry skin brushing is easy, cheap, and effective for removing that dead skin, as well as stimulating your lymphatic system.
You can also try a short-term detox diet designed to remove toxins more quickly. And you’ll have no trouble finding information online for those.
Removing Physical Trauma
Physical stress includes obvious trauma like that from car accidents or sports injuries. But it’s the stressors that come specifically from our modern world that are more problematic.
Think about how you spend your day. Are you sitting for most of it? How much time do you spend leaning over a desk or computer? How much time do you spend staring down at your phone?
Forward Head Posture is a real problem in 2018, and it stems from the activities (that aren’t active at all) above. FHP puts undue pressure on your spine, which in turn can place pressure on your nervous system. This causes disruptions in the way your brain communicates to your body, which can cause a problem in any system, organ, tissue, or cell.
Poor posture is a big culprit when it comes to physical stress on the body. As is a body that is inactive and sedentary for most of the day. Too much sitting is really unhealthy, but the problem is compounded when we sit with poor posture.
Carrying a few extra pounds doesn’t sound all that bad, but those extra pounds are placing stress on your entire your body, from your heart to your joints.
Try using a standing desk. Pay attention to your posture, particularly your head and neck alignment. Hold your phone differently, or even put it down for a while. Begin an exercise program and drop a few pounds. And don’t discount the effects a chiropractic adjustment can have on reducing physical stress.
The modern lifestyle isn’t healthy. But with better awareness and some simple lifestyle changes, you can reduce emotional, chemical, and physical stress. Which means your body can better do its job – protect you from illness and disease.
Dr. Baker – Your Royse City & Rockwall Chiropractor
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