We often measure our health by how we physically feel, how we look, what we eat, etc. We compare health to disease and that is usually how we measure up – if we are not sick than we must be healthy. But are we really?
What else is there to health other than not being sick? A lot.
There’s a major part of being healthy that I find is often overlooked, yet we are very much aware of it on a daily basis: Our Mood, Our Mind, Our Emotions: Are we stressed, or are we relaxed? Are we in “fight-or-flight” mode or “rest-and-digest” mode?
Let’s think about this for a moment: “fight/flight” versus “rest/digest”. Many of my patients complain about digestive issues. Have you noticed that digestion is related to stress? Have you noticed that we often eat on the run, in the car, while standing up, or without even thinking/realizing we are eating?! This is not going to lead to a healthy digestion/absorption/metabolism of nutrients we just ingested, because we can either be in “fight/flight” or “rest/digest” – never able to be in both at the same time.
There are a few great ways to relax, digest, rest during our day without taking a nap:
- Deep breathing+ – take a few deep breaths. Count to 4 on the inhale, hold for 4, exhale for a count of 4, repeat 4 times. Do this a few times a day, and you can bring your body back to relaxation, decreasing your excess CORTISOL levels at the moment, and train your body to more quickly relax during any situation.
- Sit and eat – take away other distractions. Smell your food before you eat your food, think about the food you are ingesting, and actually enjoy your meal – this can greatly improve your digestive/absorptive/metabolic abilities.
- Sleep – 8 hours at night, in a dark, cool, quiet environment. Regular bed time and wake time will help your body ride the sleep/wake cortisol wave and instead of fighting the current, you will be able to just float on that lazy river, easily feeling energized when you should and tired when you should!
- Play – exercise does not always have to be intense and torturous. Yes, we should all sprint and lift heavy a few times a week, but not every day, and definitely not if you feel it exhausts you too much for a day or two afterwards. Listen to your body. Incorporate PLAY into your routine. We are adults, but we all want to sing that “Toys ‘R Us” song now and again, right? 🙂 “…I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys ‘R Us Kid, there’s a million toys at Toys ‘R Us that I can play with…” I have been looking at multiple other fitness methods, and this site has a free database of PLAYful exercises to assist with your natural movement and playful lifestyle: PLAYFUL MOVEMENTS Try it out! Play a little. Move your body. Breath. Smile. Laugh
- Laughter *- there’s actually scientific research on how laughter can decrease stress, decrease hypertension, and help you feel happier. “Fake it till you make it”.
- Cuddle**, love, hug, physically be with those you love – we all need a hug once in a while. That closeness can release a hormone called Oxytocin which can help decrease stress and improve the bonds between those we love.