As 2020 draws to an end (thank God!), we turn our attention to the Christmas and holiday period.
More than ever, after such a strange year, with most of us indirectly (eg. family or friends) or directly affected by Covid19, we need to take time out to re-set.
While we have been lucky in the ACT to be impacted less by Covid19 than many other parts of the country, the feeling I get from the patients I see every day is one of tiredness, anxiety and uncertainty. All of this this tends to create stress in the mind and body.
As chiropractors at Canberra Spine Centre, we commonly see people whose stressful life contributes greatly to their poor physical condition.
A stress response is useful for dangerous situations, but when your body is experiencing a stress response continually over many days, weeks or months, this can have harmful physical effects on your body.
Every day we see people whose poor physical condition owes much to an ongoing stress load causing poor function and breakdown of the body.
Most of us have some extra time though the holiday season that can give us an opportunity to reflect on the year just gone and the new one ahead.
If 2020 hasn’t been a stellar year for you, the last thing you want to do is continue the same patterns into next year. Here are three things you can do to help improve your chances of 2021 being much better:
Re-assess those short-term patterns and behaviour in your life
How many things changed for you during 2020 that really no longer serve you.
Did you give up the gym, stop seeing friends or stop other supportive behaviours (eg. visits to your chiropractor, dentist or medical doctor)?
You may have deemed that a necessary precaution for a while, but perhaps now is the time to reclaim some of those behaviours that support good health!
What about those ‘seeking oblivion’ type activities such as drinking more alcohol or watching a whole lot more TV?
Sometimes these things help you get through a rough patch.
Take the time over the holiday period to ask if you really need to do that any more.
Don’t think of it as ‘giving up’ something, more as giving yourself the gift of feeling better with an alternative (eg. soda and lime vs alcohol; a walk in nature vs sitting on the couch.
Something I’ve reflected on is a feeling of general malaise this year that is common to many of us.
Some of that is due to the fact that without as many travel options, we feel we don’t have anything to look forward to.
If we’re not careful, we can focus our attention on what’s not right, rather than all the great stuff in our life.
When we do this, we get caught in the tension between what ‘is’ and what ‘should be’. Time to let go of what ‘should be’.
Try to consciously reflect on all the blessings in your life each day and express your appreciation to friends and family when you’re with them.
Both you and they will feel the joy of loving connection. In a study by Martin Seligman, a leader in the field of positive psychology, people who considered themselves to be stressed and depressed were asked to write down three good things that happened each day for 15 days.
At the end of the experiment, 94 percent of these subjects had a decrease in the level of stress and depression, while 92 percent said their happiness increased.
How good is that? Worth trying!
Get active – physically and socially
It’s a simple fact that human beings are genetically suited to being active and social.
When you are not fulfilling your genetic requirements, you start to experience diseases of maladaptation.
As 2021 approaches and begins, ask yourself what activities you might enjoy that get you moving and spending time with others.
Maybe you always wanted to try yoga, dragon boat racing or triathlons. Perhaps that is out of your league, but golf, bowls or a walking group would be more your style.
Being active and spending time with other people (all of the above combine both at the same time!) can elevate your mood and help you cope with stress.
Exercise and other types of physical activity stimulate the production of endorphins in the brain.
Endorphins are brain chemicals that, among other things, function as a natural painkiller. They can trigger a positive feeling in the body, boosting mood and reducing level of anxiety and stress.
You might think you’re too busy and have little time for physical activity. Keep in mind that it does not take much time to maintain a calm mental state.
Try aiming for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a minimum of three times per week. It will do wonders, not only to your physical, but also mental health.
At Canberra Spine Centre, our chiropractors often help people to improve spinal motion and nervous system function.
It is a physiological fact that when your spine moves better, the input through spinal movement to your brain counters many of the effects of the stress response.
When your nervous system is working better, you will also adapt better to stresses in the environment.
Wishing you a fabulous Christmas/holiday season and a great 2021!