April is National Stress Awareness Month and I couldn’t let the opportunity go by without addressing a topic that plays such a large role in our overall wellness (or rather, lack thereof). Study after study confirms as much as 95% of the illness and disease we face today is related in some way to stress, making it a very real threat to our longevity; more than any inherited gene, super-virus or toxin.
To be fair, stress isn’t all bad, and can affect us in both positive and negatives ways. Sometimes stress is what energizes us and stimulates our creative thinking. Sometimes stress becomes overwhelming and frustrating, tiring our minds and bodies and deteriorating our health. The reality is that stress levels are growing higher and study after study shows that there is a connection between unmanaged stress and illness and disease, ultimately leading to rising health care costs for families and employers.
It makes good sense from a wellness standpoint, as well as from a financial one, to take steps to better manage stress levels. Following are some simple and common-sense action steps you can put into practice today:
Nutrition: Eating a well-balanced diet and drinking a healthy amount of water is key to looking and feeling your best. Low carb, low fat; the information on what constitutes a proper diet is vast and conflicting. When it comes to nutrition one thing is true—variety is the spice of life. I recommend keeping your food real, and focusing on nutrient-rich vegetables and quality protein.
One easy way to instantly improve your health is to drink more water. How much water is the right amount? A good rule of thumb is to take your weight, in pounds, divided by 2 (i.e.: A person weighing 150 pounds needs to drink 75 ounces of water per day.). High levels of physical activity, medications and drinks high in caffeine may increase your need for water even more.
Sleep: Getting enough rest at night is essential for your body to recharge and heal from each day. Everyone requires a different amount of sleep. On average, the range is between 6-10 hours per night.
Exercise: The body needs a good amount of cardiovascular exercise each week to maintain health…but not as much as most people think. All you need is 3-4 thirty-minute intervals of exercise per week to stay healthy. Also, stretching should be performed daily to release the tension that builds up in our muscles.
Breathing: Have you ever paid attention to your breathing habits? Be sure that you are taking nice deep breaths while expanding your chest. Short, rapid, shallow breathing deprives the body and brain of important oxygen.
Proper Nervous System Function: The health of your nervous system is often overlooked when assessing stress and wellness levels. When was the last time you had your nervous system checked?
The nervous system is the most important system of the body—so important in fact, that the spinal cord and brain are the only parts of the body totally encased in bone for protection. With the nervous system being so critical to body function it only stands to reason that to operate at peak performance the messages from your brain must be sent through the nerves without interference. That is why doctors of chiropractic check for vertebral subluxations.
Subluxations, when left uncorrected, will not only slow and skew communication from the brain to the body but may lead to numbing, pain, or illness. Regular chiropractic care is essential to ensuring proper nerve system function. Chiropractic adjustments remove nervous system interference; this enables the body to better manage stress and maintain health.
Stress can impact your health at any age. That’s why the best advice I can give is, “Get a grip on stress before stress gets a grip on you!”