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Healthy for the Holidays

Are your stress levels not allowing you to enjoy your time with friends and family?

According to Medical News Today, 75% of individuals are experiencing moderate to high levels of stress. According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.

STRESS is the main focal point when it comes to optimal health.

Before we focus on the negative effects stress can have on your health, it is important to note stress is not necessarily a bad thing. There is often a negative connotation with the word “stress”, but in order for you to grow, to develop, and to get stronger in all areas of life, there has to be a certain amount of stress or struggle. Our system needs to be stressed and challenged so it can continue to grow. The issue with stress is there is a fine line when it comes to the extent of stress our bodies can optimally handle.

Physical, chemical, and mental/emotional stressors play a role in each of our lives and our bodies can only handle so much. This is especially true for growing children, as their bodies are trying to adapt to many new things at once. If your body and nervous system are not adapting to your lifestyle stressors, the stressors accumulate over time and eventually lead to pain, discomfort, illnesses, diseases – you name it. Think along the lines of “the straw that breaks the camel’s back”.

Examples of physical, chemical, and mental/emotional stressors:

Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels (the stress hormone) interfere with learning and memory, slow the body’s ability to heal, lower immune function, and can even cause the brain to shrink in size due to loss of synaptic connections. Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and mental illness, while also being shown to decrease life expectancy.

With the holiday season upon us, when lifestyle stressors tend to increase, it is more important than ever we make sure we are doing all we can to combat or balance the stresses we deal with on a daily basis.

There are two ways for you to achieve this: decrease your lifestyle stressors OR increase your body’s ability to adapt to and respond to these stressors in a positive manner. I don’t know about you, but I find it is often quite difficult to decrease the stressors in my life; so, increasing our body’s ability to adapt to our lifestyle stressors is crucial.

Below you will find my two favorite ways to help combat stress this holiday season, as well as one incredibly effective way to “cheat the system” and exponentially increase your body’s ability to take on more stress and eliminate the negative effects!

1. Gratitude Journal. Every situation in life has both a positive and negative aspect to it if you look hard enough; it is all simply a matter of perspective. A gratitude journal allows you to focus on the positive aspects of everything going on in your life. Adding a 5-minute gratitude journal to both your morning and nighttime routines is a game-changer when it comes to mental/emotional stress. Not only do you start your day in a state of gratitude, but you also spend your day searching for things to be grateful for so you have something to write in your nighttime journal. When it comes to the holidays, an easy exercise to do is to write one thing you are grateful for about every family member that you will be seeing each day – you’ll be amazed at how much it helps!

2. “Disconnect” for a few minutes. This can come in a multitude of different ways. Go for a walk, do some meditation or breath work, or try the Quick Coherence Technique, which I have outlined below. It is all about finding a way to “disconnect” from the chaos and commotion that is life, especially during the holiday season. Give your mind a few minutes to be clear, take a rest, and recharge.

Quick Coherence Technique
Close your eyes. Take 3 slow, deep breaths in and out from the belly. Focus on the area around your heart – you can even place your hand on your heart. Imagine your breath is coming in and out of the area around your heart. Continue taking big, slow breaths, finding a natural breathing rhythm that feels good to you. Next, think of a positive feeling. Be sure to get specific – think of a child in your life such as a son, daughter, niece or nephew, grandchild, or even fur baby.
Imagine their face – their laugh or smile. Imagine them up against you as you snuggle them and hold them tight. Feel their soft hair and smooth skin. Let those positive emotions wash over you and breath those emotions, feel those emotions. A few more deep, slow breaths while continuing to visualize this. Now, when you are ready, open your eyes.

You can do this anytime or anyplace and with practice can teach yourself to get this amazing feeling in as little as 10 seconds.

Now, for that “cheat code” I promised you.

Chiropractic care is the all important “life hack.” As a Pediatric and Family Wellness Chiropractor, I work to optimize the body’s capacity to deal with physical, chemical, and mental/emotional stressors in a positive manner. I work to increase your body’s resiliency to the stress you deal with on a daily basis by making sure the body is functioning as close to 100% as possible. Chiropractic care, along with utilizing techniques such as those I talked about above, will allow you to maximize your human potential, do the things you want to do, and live the life you want to live without pain, discomfort, or other symptoms limiting you.

The best present you can give yourself and your family to celebrate the holidays this year is a body and nervous system that can handle more stress without the negative effects. Give yourself more capacity to take on stress before the straw breaks the camel’s back and the end result is pain, discomfort, or a magnitude of other symptoms, illnesses, or diseases.

Remember – physical, chemical, and mental/emotional stressors are always going to be there in life. However, we can make a difference by shifting the ways in which we view these stressors, combat them, and use the incredible cheat code of chiropractic care to allow our bodies to take on more without the negative effects. This is the difference between our bodies slowly breaking down, or thriving and growing stronger during the holiday season.

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