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21st Century Stress

This is turning out to be a pretty tough century. Or at least so far. The recent earthquake-like shocks in the economy have impacted everyone, and most people's stress levels are sky-high.

Jobs have been lost, retirement savings have shrunk drastically, and energy prices are rising again. Economic stress leads to real physical stress.

Stress is more than just a state of mind. Stress has real physical components, including tight muscles, headaches, difficulty falling asleep and restless sleep, abdominal pain, allergies and asthma, inflammation, and high blood pressure.

Some results of stress may have long-term consequences. Prolonged high blood pressure, for example, may lead to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Long-term inflammation may lead to weight gain, diabetes, and even kidney disease.

Of course, we could have stress because we have stress. We're stressed, and now we begin worrying about all the things that could go wrong because we are under stress. Not a good plan.

A better plan would involve being proactive and beginning to take action steps that support our health and well-being. The action steps include the usual suspects - exercise and good nutrition. Everyone knows they "should" be doing regular exercise and "should" be eating good food every day, the difficulty is that no one wants to do what they "should".3

The way to reducing one's stress levels is in choosing to take action. We choose healthy behaviors because we want to, not because we think we "should". The concept of personal choice is powerful and may lead to shifts toward behaviors that are healthy.

From an information point of view, both exercise and good nutrition have potent effects on a person's health.1,2,3 Both reduce inflammation. Both neutralize circulating free radicals, reducing a number of health risks, and both provide new energy resources, making us healthier and happier.

Choosing good health improves our lives in countless ways. By choosing, we take back the power of good health. Everyone in our lives benefits by our renewed energy, creativity, productivity, and love for life.

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

Your chiropractor is an expert in health, wellness, and well-being and will be glad to help you design exercises and food plans that will work for you. Remember - being healthy is a choice!

1Appel LJ, et al: Effects of comprehensive lifestyle modification on blood pressure control: main results of the PREMIER clinical trial. JAMA 289(16):2083-2093, 2003
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
3Viera 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

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Meditation - A Good Antidote to Stress

The notion of meditation brings to mind images of very healthy-looking people sitting cross-legged on the floor. They are chanting or doing deep breathing. Incense may be burning or small bells ringing.

Well, we may not like incense. We may never be able to get into those pretzel-like positions. Chanting or deep breathing exercises may make us feel weird.

Fortunately, meditation is not really like all that. And, a regular meditation practice may help to significantly reduce the effects of stress - both physically and mentally.

"But I could never sit still for half an hour," you say. "I could never concentrate on one thing for thirty minutes at a time." Again, fortunately you don't have to. The benefits of meditation can be obtained from as little as ten minutes each day.

Also, meditation is not about "concentrating on one thing". Your thoughts go where they go. The only purpose of meditation is to notice your thoughts, and return to a quiet place. In one popular form of meditation, you focus on your breathing. Not deep breathing. Just regular breathing - in and out. You focus on your breath. Your thoughts go where they go, and you notice and gently bring your attention back to the breath. That's it.

Sit comfortably in a chair with a firm seat or on a mat. Focus on your breath and meditate for ten minutes. This may not be the easiest thing to do at first, but you'll be surprised at how easy this becomes. Make this a daily habit. You may want to eventually add another ten-minute session. Soon, you'll notice a decrease in your levels of stress and an improvement in your sense of your own well-being.




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