Most people are aware that stress affects our health in a variety of ways, but what does it actually mean in our modern world?
Today, anything that compromises our immune system and promotes chronic inflammation, the common denominator in all preventable degenerative diseases, can be considered a ‘stress’. None work in isolation, with each affecting the other.
Identifying and minimising the stresses, while building resilience is the key. Let’s take a look at the 5:
While we may not be able to change the world around us, we can certainly change our attitude to the world. We live in an ‘attention economy’ and how we choose to ‘spend’ that resource is one of our most powerful tools. Nurturing relationships and practising gratitude have also been shown to have profound and positive effects.
Today we are exposed to tens of thousands of chemicals found in food, clothing, furniture and personal care products. Surprisingly, only a small fraction has been tested, and even fewer in combination, which is how they are encountered on a daily basis. In addition, electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have been classified by the World Health Organisation as a Class 2b carcinogen with the potential to cause cancer, constituting a human experiment. Making informed choices can reduce potential environmental stresses 80-90 per cent.
Food has the potential to cause disease but also has the potential to heal. There are some fundamental problems including our relationship with fat and the demonisation of cholesterol; the use of seed oils and trans fats; too much sugar, high fructose corn syrup and carbohydrates and their effect on important hormones like insulin; modern high-yield high-gluten grains; the ethical, environmental and health implications of industrialised factory-farmed meat production; lack of fibre; the use of additives, preservatives, herbicides, antibiotics and pesticides; the reduction of micronutrients and the demonisation of salt; and the overconsumption of alcohol.
A focus on whole foods, ethically- grown proteins and fats, minimising carbohydrate/sugar intake, using quality salt and drinking filtered water is a good start.
Our human journey over millions of years has always involved movement, from four to two legs. As hunters and gatherers, we moved to survive. The agricultural and industrial revolutions introduced new, more repetitive movements, but again we needed to move in some way to survive. The technological revolution has all but eliminated the need for movement to survive. A huge amount of time today is spent looking down at phones and devices further, challenging the upright posture. Sleep position is also important. Stomach sleeping compromises airway as well as the muscles of the head, neck and shoulders.
Incorporate movement into the day, become aware of head posture, stand at the desk, walk and sleep on the side.
There is a silent epidemic going on right underneath people’s noses and they are mostly unaware of it.
Narrow jaws and crowded teeth affect over 90% of the population. The shape and size of the upper and lower jaws determine the shape and size of the upper airway, directly impacts sleeping and breathing quality. The mouth is the site of two of the most common infections – tooth decay and gum disease. The chronic inflammation of gum disease is linked to many common diseases, like heart disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. It’s also the most sensitive part of the body with 30-40 per cent of the body’s sensory and motor nerves in the orofacial regions, so the connection between clenching and grinding and common headache and neck ache problems is often overlooked. Take oral health seriously, your body already does.
It would seem stress is a fact of modern life. In order to deal with a problem, it helps to know what that problem is. Minimising the stresses is the key. Then to build resilience by focusing on sleep, breathe, nourish, movement and thought. Be well.