Last month at Body In Balance, we discussed the dangers of stress physiology, how it lays the ground work for health issues and disease, and severely affects quality of life. The physiology that chronic stress can cause creates sleep disturbances, weight gain, digestive issues, systemic inflammation, and immune system dysfunction. Because our medical system in the US waits for a disease process to be severe enough to be diagnosable before it takes action, the physiology that is creating the issue is often affecting someone’s health for years before it is recognized. For example, one test aiding with a cancer diagnosis is blood work. While we can wait for blood work to demonstrate cancer, the physiology in the body that is creating cancer is happening typically for years before the cancer can be detected. Our goal is to be ahead of the damaging, disease-causing effects of stress physiology with specific action steps, most of which can be built into lifestyle and are also important steps on the journey towards creating optimal health. First steps of a recovery plan include simple actions like spending time in nature, incorporating light exercise, and practicing healthy sleep hygiene (sleeping in a cool, dark space, shutting devices off 1 hour before bed, etc.). Mindfulness, an incredibly researched, well-proven tool for improving stress physiology, deserves significant attention.
Why is it that the practice of mindfulness is so related to healing stress physiology? Prolonged stress causes the fight or flight/sympathetic nervous system reaction to be triggered consistently. This has an effect of cortisol levels chronically increasing, making cells of the body somewhat immune to the protective benefits of cortisol. Inflammation can then run rampant. The sympathetic-dominant physiology must be addressed. Adding to this is the following: Harvard research shows that most adults are “checked” out 50% of the time. This means instead of being in the present moment, they are thinking about the past or the future. Even more disturbing, research shows that we think at least 60,000 thoughts each day; 95% of those thoughts are the same thoughts each day, and an astounding 80% of those thoughts are negative. In this way, it is almost as if we need to stop throughout our day and ask, “Where am I? Am I in the present moment or am I stuck in negative thinking, living in the past or worrying about the future?” Chronic stress physiology can actually be created by not being in the present moment as well as consistent, negative thinking. These patterns need to be addressed and are one of the most important steps to creating a foundation for healing stress physiology. A mindfulness practice takes time and effort, but is well worth the energy in terms of creating a vibrant life of health and vitality.
Join me on Wednesday, May 19th at 6:15pm for the virtual class “Mindfulness: The Guide.” Mindfulness involves your ability to focus or shift the state of your mind in an instant. It is one of the most overlooked yet necessary aspects of creating health and wellness, providing both mental/emotional benefits as well as physical benefits. Register at www.BodyInBalanceChiropractic.com/events.
In June, I will be teaching a class titled, “The Ins and Outs of the Keto Diet” and in July, “Detoxification 101.” Both classes are additional steps to support chronic stress recovery and the journey to optimal health.
Remember, Create Health by Choice, Not by Chance.