Hippocrates is well known as the Father of medicine and for quotes such as ‘let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.’ Our food supply has changed significantly since Hippocrates time and technological advances over the last few decades has lead to some amazing developments. But the growing sense of time urgency in our society often means we do not have the time to make a nutritious meal or we eat while sending emails or watching TV. The increasing rate of physical and mental disease and ill health is an astounding testament to how our lives has changed- but not necessarily for the better.
We now have so many appliances designed to make our life easier such as computers, and a wide array of kitchen appliances and yet more so than ever before. I constantly hear my clients say how little time they have in spite of these new advances. So often, these new technologies are actually the cause of our modern day stress like when your laptop crashes without having been backed up or the impact of EMF (electromagnetic frequencies) on our health. As amazing as these new advances have been for our community, sometimes coming back to basics is what is needed to re-establish our good health and reduce the stress that we so often experience.
Hippocrates identified 7 basic principles of good health, which I think are still more than relevant today when dealing with the busy pace of our modern day society. I was first introduced to these principles by Don Tolman many years ago and the research on the beneficial impact on each of these factors is astounding. Focus on incorporating one step per week into your life and by the end of 7 weeks you will notice a dramatic difference in your overall level of health and vitality.
7 Ancient Steps For Dealing With Modern Day Stress
Dealing With Modern Day Stress Step#1: Clean Fresh Air
Even noticed that you feel tired at the end of a day all cooped up in the office, but feel energised after being outside in the fresh air? Most of us find ourselves working in an office with no windows and poor ventilation and then we go home to turn on the heater or air-conditioner, which circulates any toxins or pollutions in the air. We are driving longer distances to work than we have before, which means that we are being exposed to air pollutions from many sources. The air we breathe inside our homes, offices and cars is often stagnant and contains traces of toxins from cleaners and other products within the environment. Not only do our lungs need fresh clean oxygen in order to function, but also oxygen is crucial for pretty much every other function in the body.
So try some these TIPS to help get clean fresh air to energise your body:
- Open your windows- circulate the air in your home, office and car.
- Go outside each morning and take 5 deep breaths.
- Get some indoor plants to help freshen and purify the air inside.
- Make it a habit to get outside the office on your lunch break and focus on taking deep breaths.
- Sleep with your window open or a fan on low- Ever noticed how quickly the dust gathers on your fan- that is because it is attracting the dust and toxins from the air as it circulates- wouldn’t you prefer those participants on the fan than in your lungs?
Dealing With Modern Day Stress Step#2: Clean Fresh Water
The different organs and structure of our body consist from between 60-85% water and the brain is around 85% water. Not only can we not live without water, but it is also essential for optimum health and well-being. Studies have shown that even being dehydrated by 3% of your body weight can lead to cognitive decline. Drinking two litres of water a day has been shown to increase your metabolism and energy levels. Adequate hydration has also been shown to reduce constipation, prevent kidney stones and improve skin condition.
- Drink enough water for your weight- a simple formula is to divide your body weight by 0.024 and convert to litres. So if your weight is 60 kg that is 60 /0.024 = 2.5 litres.
- Drink a glass of water upon rising- often our first drink is a coffee or tea which further dehydrate the body. First thing in the morning we need to rehydrate after not having anything to drink over night so swap the caffeinated drink for water.
- Get yourself a water filter- If you are not drinking filtered water then you body is the filter! There are many chemical used in council water processing that have been showed to impact on your health so get a good quality water filter.
Dealing With Modern Day Stress Step#3: Sunshine
The sun has gotten a bad reputation in recent years, especially in Australia due to the high incidence of skin cancer. However, the Vitamin D (which is actually a hormone) that we receive from the sun is crucial for healthy bones and muscles, and deficiencies have been linked to illness such as MS, heart disease, autoimmune and bone disorders. In fact there was a high rate of rickets (a bone disorder due to Vit D deficiency) developed within a school in Victoria a few years ago due to their slip slop slap policy. Vitamin D is also our happy hormone as it is essential for creating a good mood. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition that develops during the winter months resulting in depressed mood due to a lack of vitamin D exposure. All living creatures need sunlight to survive and we as humans are no different.
- Spend 10-15 minutes (depending on skin tone) in the morning and afternoon in direct sunlight so you can absorb Vitamin D
- Balance the time you spend inside under artificial light with reading or working outside in the shade
- Spend 10 minutes outside as soon as you wake up- as this helps to regulate hormones and neurotransmitters for your sleep-wake cycle. Reduce time spent after dark using artificial light from TV’s and computer equipment as this impacts on your body’s ability to produce melatonin- which regulates our sleep cycle
Dealing With Modern Day Stress Step#4: Whole Foods
I was amazed when in the supermarket a while back and I found a pre-made omelette mix in a carton. Have we really become that busy that we don’t have two minutes to crack a few eggs and then whisk them? The use of processed and junk food in our society has now become commonplace. Our busy lifestyles have meant that we lean towards processed and convenience foods. However, most vitamins are lost to heat and processing, which means that we are eating foods that are calorie-rich and nutrient poor. Increasing your intake of fresh whole foods including fruits, vegetables nuts and seeds means that you can get a wide range of micronutrients and minerals that are required to replace the nutrients you lose when stressed and to create optimum health and vitality.
- Aim to introduce one extra serve of vegetables to each meal.
- Eat your vegetables raw or only lightly steamed to maintain the nutrients.
- Aim for at least 10 different forms of fruit and vegetables a day.
- Wash your fruits and vegetables in 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to 2 litres of water to wash off pesticides and herbicides before eating.
- Eat seasonal and local produce from the markets as it will be less damaged by transportation and more likely to have retained its natural nutrients.
Dealing With Modern Day Stress Step#5: Exercise
Our bodies are designed to move and yet we find ourselves as a society living a sedentary lifestyle. Most of us now are sitting as we drive to work, sitting all day at work and then we come home and we sit some more. Regular exercise has been repeatedly shown to reduce modern day stress, increase cardiovascular health and improve energy levels. Exercise not only gives us an endorphin feel good hit, but is also allows serotonin to pass the blood brain barrier, which then regulates our mood, energy and our appetite.
- Aim for 30 minutes of gentle walking each morning- not only is this a great way to start your day- you get fresh air, sunshine and it helps to kick start your digestive system for the day reducing constipation
- Get up regularly during the day at work and do a few simple stretches
- Plan walks and hikes on the weekend down the beach or in the mountains
- Get an exercise buddy to help keep you motivated
Dealing With Modern Day Stress Step#6: Healthy relationships
Relationships can be our biggest sense of satisfaction or our greater source of stress. Healthy relationships can help to create meaning in our life, provide a sense of belonging and being loved and support us during the tough times in life. Unhealthy relationships can cause a great deal of emotional stress, which then can translate into disease and ill health.
- Start to improve the relationship you have with yourself- spend some time getting to know you what you enjoy doing and what your values are- spend more time engaging in activities that show that you love yourself.
- Spend more time with people that inspire, support and encourage you.
- Spend less time with people that criticise you or are negative.
- Develop new relationships with people that have similar interests or values by joining a club, sport or hobbies group.
Dealing With Modern Day Stress Step#7: Passion/Meaning
A common factor in people that rate a higher level of overall health and well being is a clear sense of purpose and direction in their life. Engaging in activities that you are passionate about and enjoy doing help to counteract the stress chemicals and create a greater sense of meaning in your life. When we feel stressed we don’t have time to do what we enjoy- however, engaging in enjoyable meaningful activities is the best way to counteract this stress. Remember when you were a kid and you would totally lose track of time because you were so engrossed in building the sandcastle or making a fortress out of chairs and blankets? We often lose this passion as we get older and get weighed down by our responsibilities. The benefits of doing activities we enjoy not only extend to a greater sense of life satisfaction, but it also means we are more effective at work as well
- Make a conscious effort every single day to spend at least 5 minutes doing something you really love
- Rediscover what you are really passionate about and spend more time doing it whether that is patting the dog, walking on the beach or making model aeroplanes
- If you can’t find a job you are passionate about- find passion in other areas of your life or look at how you can get more meaning from your work by engaging in different projects or supporting other staff
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