Blue Zones Power 9: Down Shift
“Reverse disease by finding a stress-relieving strategy that works for you,” according to the Blue Zones Project Fort Worth website. Stress is a major contributor to disease and suffering in our population. Additionally, stress can alter the way a person carries themselves - they may hunch their shoulders or clench their jaw, or take out all their frustration on a treadmill, causing repetitive motion injuries. It is easy to see the link between stress and structure when one starts thinking about how they “carry” their stress. In fact, stress may be one of the biggest contributors to Structural Shift among our patients. Finding a way to manage the stress and then undo the damage that it has caused is of utmost importance to a person’s health!
How to manage the stress? Not everyone can quit their job and run away to the beach to live stress-free forever! Some recommendations that we typically make are as follows:
Unplug when you can. Maybe that work email can wait until tomorrow morning over coffee? Does social media have you worked up? Perhaps take one day off from checking all your apps - do something fun instead like go for a walk, take a bath (while reading a book, not scrolling Instagram), or go take a free local class about something you’re curious about (and wait until the next day to post about it on Facebook).
Cut down on alcohol and caffeine. Too much alcohol can disrupt your normal sleep cycle, causing you to feel groggy and need more caffeine…which in turn can make it difficult to fall asleep at night, potentially causing you to rely on alcohol for relief. Try to cut back one beverage a day. If you find you’re having a difficult time with this, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
Find a therapist. Stress can take a toll on your mental health, and unmanaged mental health problems can compound stress. If you feel like you might benefit from some professional insight, make a commitment to find a therapist you trust.
Practice self care. Whether that’s getting a regular massage, putting your favorite essential oils in a diffuser, setting a regular date night with your partner, or simply zoning out for a run, try to incorporate small things into your life that make you feel good.
Exercise. If you’re out of shape, resuming regular exercise may help boost your confidence to face stressful situations with ease. Even if you’re in shape, you can still benefit from healthy, regular, physical activity. If you have health concerns, consult your physician before beginning an exercise program.