Stress Less

In today’s world, we are bombarded with stress every minute of every day. Our jobs are demanding. Our families and friends vie for our attention. The roads here in Santa Cruz are full of traffic year round. It can’t be avoided!  Stress will always be there. Keeping stress at a moderate or tolerable level is…

We can’t always keep the stress away, but we can understand how it works, and how we may better react to make our lives healthier and happier. From my perspective as a molecular biologist and a practicing chiropractor, I think about stress as coming from physical, emotional and chemical inputs.

Physical stress doesn’t always have to be traumatic, like a car accident or sports injury, it can be chronic and repetitive, like TEXT NECK, poor posture at your computer or during your commute. At my clinic my patients come in with pain from multiple sources of physical trauma: it could be whiplash from crashing their bike on their commute along Soquel Drive, ankle sprains from running in Nisene Marks here in Aptos, or postural fatigue and muscle tension across the upper back and lower neck from sitting at their desk in Rio Del Mar.

Emotional stress can be good, like getting a new job, having a wedding or having a new baby.  Emotional stress can also can be negative, like pleasing a mean boss or managing an insolent teenager. The families I treat here our Aptos clinic come in regularly with symptoms from this type of stress.

Chemical stress comes from the foods, drinks, and medications we ingest. The Holidays in particular are a stressful time when folks feel anxiety and turn to chemical stressors, like alcohol and delicious, easily available, yet unhealthy food. As a culture, we are a caffeinated society that loves its fast, processed and convenient foods. Unfortunately, these foods are full of chemicals and preservatives that stress our digestive system and don’t fuel our body properly.

While we cannot always control what happens to us, we CAN control how well we take care of ourselves. When you choose to care of yourself, you are better equipped to handle stress.

Ten things is a pretty long list! I challenge you to pick three of these things and implement them into your lifestyle.

Here are 10 basic self-care TIPS for Stress Reduction: 

  1. Sleep. It’s recommended that most folks get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Deep sleep and dream states recharge our bodies and affect our ability to be productive. We are a nation of fatigued, over-caffeinated people. There are a few things you can do to help you get to sleep at night. The first is to unplug. That’s right, put your smartphone in the other room and turn off your television. Read, journal, or just talk with your partner before bed. There are herbal remedies, aromatherapies, and teas that can help promote sleep and relaxation. Check your local health food store to the right ones for you.
  2. Hydrate. First thing when you wake up, drink a tall glass of water. Many people like to add half a lemon. Other can drinks also keep you hydrated, but they often contain calories from sugar.
  3. Fuel. Eat fresh wholesome foods that don’t come from boxes or bags. A poor diet can actually make you more vulnerable to stress. If you are too busy, you may find yourself tempted to eat convenient highly processed foods. The key here is planning ahead and prepping your healthy snacks so they are easily available when you need a quick bite.
  4. Exercise. Regular exercise provides many health benefits, from improving your heart health, to elevating your mood. If you don’t currently exercise, try something new or rediscover something you used to enjoy. Some ideas are yoga, walking, hiking, cycling, CrossFit, Pilates, gardening, etc.
  5. Smile.   When you get dressed in the morning, don’t forget to put on your smile! This will give you a positive mental attitude which helps spread love and joy to those around you. Much of what you experience in life can feel more or less stressful depending on your point of view. Make a point to identify and change the negative thought patterns.
  6. Maintain Social Support. Find a tribe to keep you going. Friends, co-workers, work-out buddies. Friends can pick you up when you’re sad, provide insights, and help you have fun. There are so many great communities to explore here in Aptos: FLEET FEET, BIKRAM YOGA APTOS, APTOS CROSSFIT, and FIT4MOM are just a few examples. You could also just put on your shoes and go for a walk on the beach with a good friend.
  7. Journal to process your emotions. Life is stressful and writing things down helps prevent an emotional explosion from keeping things bottled up. Keep a journal by your nightstand and write down ideas and thoughts that keep you awake. This also helps with No. 1, Sleep!
  8. Self-Care. Self-care is not selfish! Dont overlook the importance of pampering yourself. It feels good to feel good! Schedule a massage once a month, get adjusted every two weeks, and get a pedicure or facial to pamper yourself. If money is a limiting factor, take a hot bath or shower and feel the water wash the tension away. Spend 20 minutes a day doing something for yourself. Pretty soon you’ll be a more chill and relaxed version of yourself!
  9. 10-minutes of Quiet Time. Take 10 min to breathe, meditate or pray. Taking those ten minutes will give you mental clarity. Taking five deep BELLY BREATHS can help calm you in a stressful situation. Place your hand on your belly. Breath in through your nose and try to lift your hand away from your spine while expanding your abdomen. This breathing technique can be an effective treatment for anxiety, and may also help to boost energy and stamina.
  10. Create a Stop-Doing list.  Stop doing the things that stress you out! Learn to say NO! Review your calendar or journal and evaluate all the things and people that stress you out. Once you identify your triggers, try to get rid of a few of those responsibilities or activities. You’ll be amazed how wonderful it feels to say NO to those stressful situations.

We at Golden Chiropractic would like to help you find relief. Call us at (831) 291-3330 or REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT ONLINE to begin treating your symptoms and get your neck back to health.