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Just a Thought – Part 1

December 13, 2010

Give this a try.  Take a moment and find a quiet space to sit down.  Find your pulse either in your neck or just above your thumb.  Once you’ve found it, monitor it for about one minute.  Unless you’ve just been doing something fairly physical, it should be somewhere between 60-90 beats per minute.  Now, think of situation that makes you very anxious.  For some of you it might be heights or spiders.  For others it may be confronting a fellow employee or your boss.  Or it may be a deadline you have coming up.  Whatever the situation, take some time, close your eyes and visualize yourself in that situation.  Do this for two to three minutes.  Really focus.  When you’re done, re-check your heart rate.  Chances are that it’s pounding faster and harder.

So what’s the big deal?  There are two:

First, it’s amazing that we can have this sort of control over our body.  That just by thinking about a situation we’re able to change our physiology.  But there’s more going on behind the scenes than just changing your heart rate.  Those stressful, anxious thoughts and emotions you evoke cause a cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters to be released.  These are the chemicals involved in the fight or flight response and along with increasing your heart rate, they also raise your blood pressure, contribute to increased fat storage and promote osteoporosis.  This is a normal response to stress, but only for the short term.  The problem is that many of us are in a chronic or prolonged state of stress and in turn are heading down the road to poorer health.

Second, it’s amazing that we have this sort of control but most of us don’t take advantage of it.  What do I mean by that?  Let’s imagine that we reverse the exercise you did above.  Imagine that you’re in a situation that is peaceful, comforting and safe.  Follow your heart rate and you’ll notice it slowing down.  At the same time you also inhibit the release of the associated stress hormones.  If that were your default setting, calm and relaxed, you would be less likely to acquire the states of ill health mentioned above.

Yes, all of us have stress in our lives.  How we deal with it, however, has a great impact on our health  and adopting a routine of regular relaxation strategies is an important part of sustainable health.  At the next post we’ll discuss relaxation strategies.  But today is about becoming aware of the control you have over your health.  And it starts with just a thought.

For more information on relaxation and how to feel better and stay well you can contact Guelph Chiropractors at Clear Path Chiropractic Health Centre.

Photo credit- NGUNS

  1. Mark,
    Great! You’ve given me inspiration to write during the year about the tips on keeping healthy in 2011. I will go into depth on each of them. Very helpful. Thank you.

    • I’m glad to have been of help, Sherri.

      I’m sure with your health tips it will be a good year for us all.

  2. Merci beaucoup! I visited a chiropractor in September due to an exaggerated somersaulting feat with four year old twins(I am 53). After three adjustments, I ended up walking with crutches for awhile. The pain kept shifting. My perspective about the matter kept me tensed up. I am fine now, but occasionally feel a tweak in my lower spine, the exact spot where my Yoga colleague swears the Kundalini energy must flow.
    I have also given up my beloved Katherine Dunham dance class for the moment. Biking, walking in the forest and stretching have become my present form of exercise. I will incorporate your relaxation suggestions in my daily regime. I think your blog deserves to be Freshly Pressed. Thanks for the tips.

    • I’m glad to hear that things are feeling better for you now. Any form of active relaxation is good for calming the mind and body.

      Thanks very much for the comment and encouragement.

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