Out of the Woods

Who wants to be the best version of themselves? Let’s face it, most of us do! However sometimes it’s hard to actually commit to healthy habits that contribute and help us to be the best version of ourselves. Sometimes finding a balance can be hard. We all know at least one person that is so hard core with their health that it must be so exhausting just keeping up the regime. We also know people who seem to do all the “wrong” things yet never seem to get sick or injured. Whilst these people are few and far between they do exist. However I pose this question to you…If you are so stressed out trying to achieve your health goals or so far detached from even the concept of health, how do you think you will cope, heal or recover if you were to have an unavoidable accident or experience the loss of a loved one?
This is where resilience comes in to play. Resilience is the ability to cope and/or recover quickly from difficulties. The more resilient you are physically, biochemically, mentally and emotionally then the better you will cope in a crisis. Unfortunately we can seemingly do everything “right” but no one can avoid disasters, distress, accidents, illness etc. totally, no matter what measures we have put into place. However the more resilient you are the better you will cope and the quicker you will likely recover when disaster visits your doorstep. The ability to bounce back from stress or adversity becomes even more important as we age. Transitions and influences that affect our health include things like having a new baby,  starting a new school, surviving abuse, moving, job changes or loss, retirement, isolation, loss of a loved one, declining health, separation from loved ones, decreased ability to exercise, income changes etc. How we adapt to these changes basically determines what your life will look like going forward. With technological advances and improved knowledge people are living longer so how you look after your health now direct affects how you will enjoy your life not just now but into the future.
This month we are talking about pain, inflammation and anxiety. Pain as most people know can be purely physical; but it can also be influenced by nutritional, chemical and/or emotional factors. The 3 main causes for inflammation outside of physical injury are poor diet, lack of exercise and poor sleep. Inflammation is driven by factors such as heat, alcohol, processed sugar, excessive exercise etc.
Below are some some tips on how to increase your resilience to firstly prevent pain, inflammation and anxiety or help you deal with and recover faster if you do unfortunately experience them:
1. Exercise: Physical exercise  boosts the body’s endorphins, decreases stress hormones, protects brain cells and lowers blood pressure to keep you feeling good physically and emotionally. Choose something you love doing, possibly choose someone you love hanging out with and exercise with them for best results.
2. Eating healthy: Sticking to an eating plan that is in line with your ancestral history and as fresh and seasonal as possible is optimal. To decrease inflammation it’s essential to minimise or avoid process foods/drinks, sugar (especially processed sugar), alcohol, high inflammatory or hard to digest foods such as certain grains and dairy. Sugar is also a driver for anxiety.
3. Sleep: Being sleep deprived can reduce immune function and influence factors such as memory, learning, coping, decision making, healing and even weight loss. Quality sleep is essential so prioritise getting at least 6 hours but ideally 8-10 depending on your specific health and requirements.
4. Meditate:  Meditation counters stress by eliciting the relaxation response which decreases stress hormones, blood pressure and oxygen consumption. Meditation doesn’t have to be sitting silently either it can involve guided meditation, breathing exercises or moving meditation such as tai chi. Box breathing has been shown to be one of the most  natural and effective ways to reduce anxiety.
5. Cultivate positive thinking: When things are not going your way its’ easy to slip into a “poor me” pattern. Whilst it’s healthy to release emotions, keep your pity party short and then focus on 3 things that are going well for you. This could be as simple as going for a walk on the beach or enjoying a nice cuppa. Affirmations are a great way to cultivate positive thinking when you are not feeling so positive.
6. Laugh more: Did you know that laughing counteracts stress hormones and can directly boost your immune system function? So hanging out with funny people or watching a funny movie can do wonders for not just your mental state but your physical health too.
7. Supplements: If you are not eating or absorbing enough nutrients or your demands are higher due to pregnancy, stress, exercise (think elite athlete, marathon runner etc.) then you may need to speak to your nutritionist or naturopath about supporting your health with some supplemental vitamins and minerals. There are some amazing natural supplements for:
  • Pain and inflammation reduction – e.g. high dose curcurmin, high dose omega 3, magnesium
  • Anxiety – I particularly love Neurocalm by Metagenics, magnesium applied topically and taken orally can also help
  • Sleep – there is an amazing new supplement from Metagenics called SleepX
So no matter where you are on your health journey you can always improve your health. If you need some help then please reach out to our amazing team and we will guide and support you in the right direction.

Author: Kate Wood

Kate has represented Australia as an 800m runner, winning five Australian titles and competing on the international stage. She also lectured track & field at the Australian College of Physical Education. After being forced into an early retirement due to injury, Kate turned to helping others with their health and wellness, with a special focus on families, pre-conception, pregnancy and paediatrics.

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