New Year, New You: Stress less
Local experts weigh in on how to make 2009 your best year yet.
You say it every January: “This will be my best year yet,” and you think a spoonful of black-eyed peas for luck will seal your fate. But have you ever really been armed with the advice necessary to actually make the new year your best year or, at the very least, better than the last? Now, you will be. From finance to nutrition, we asked experts to share their tips for making this year your best. Learn how to start off on the right foot and develop positive, healthy habits to last a lifetime. Read on and get ready to say hello to the new you.
Life throws us obstacles every day. While we can’t change that fact, we can change the way we face those challenges.
“A common obstacle in modern life is that we live according to outside influences,” says David Leifeste, a counselor and life coach. “We live reactively rather than intentionally, which leaves us feeling out of control, stressed and generally not content.”
Our attitudes and reactions to this frustration often make situations worse as we get angry and lay blame.
Instead, we need to acknowledge that we can decide how our life works — for the most part — and take responsibility to design it to our taste. Thus, living intentionally.’
Stress takes a physical deposit out of us each and every day as well.
“It (stress) appears minimal when we look in the mirror on a daily basis, but without proper countermeasures, it catches up with us, which accelerates aging and poor health,” says Dr. Michael Lau, owner and president of the Awaken Wellness and Rejuvenation Spa/Natural Health Chiropractic Center.
Most busy Americans’ lives are filled with stress, and without supporting the body’s glandular systems, daily stress begins to create glandular exhaustion, primarily in the adrenals, Lau says. Without good adrenal function, our ability to recover from illness, trauma, daily stress, etc., goes down. The result? We begin to feel tired and reach for the coffee day in and day out.
Lau says long-term adrenal exhaustion can lead to some of the following: increased body inflammation (joint pains, tissue soreness, etc.), imbalanced appetite and food cravings, increased body fat (especially abdominal), decreased muscle mass, decreased bone density, increased anxiety, increased depression, mood swings, reduced libido, impaired immune function, memory and learning impairment, increased symptoms of PMS and increased menopausal symptoms. To combat adrenal exhaustion, Lau recommends adding combinations of rhodiola extract, ginsengs and cordyceps extract to your daily vitamin regimen.
Without sleep, we do not detoxify well, nor do we rebuild our body well, Lau says. Developing good sleep habits is key to a stress-free, healthy lifestyle.
“When we don’t get enough sleep, we make up for it the next day with stimulants,” Lau says. “What can happen is a ‘tired but wired’ phenomena that scientists blame on imbalanced hormonal swings due to the stresses throughout the day, primarily high levels of cortisol at night. High cortisol is linked to high amounts of stress.”
Diminished sleep can take a toll on collagen, which helps the structure of the body. Diminished collagen levels in our skin create wrinkles and the appearance of aging, Lau warns. So hit snooze and catch up on your zzz’s.
Lau also notes that adding more cruciferous vegetables to your diet such as broccoli and cabbage, limiting sugars and exercising daily will help keep your body in balance.