Everybody sits… but you should stand more

Everybody sits. We sit down and eat meals together, we sit down to have a talk, we sit to drive, we sit in cubicles to work, we sit while Netflix binging… You get the picture.

Everyone sits! Even doctors ;-) and doctors in training

Everyone sits! Even doctors ūüėČ and doctors in training

For 2016 I am challenging you to make some relatively simple lifestyle changes along with me to improve your overall health. The FIRST one I want to emphasize is standing more hours than sitting during the day. This sounds relatively simple and you may think that this is something you already do, but we all sit more than we think and it has very negative effects on our health overall.

A recent study showed that US adults on average sit approximately 15.5 waking hours a day (not including the time you are asleep)! That means if you sleep 7 hours a night and sit 15.5 hours a day, then you are only standing for 1.5 hours, YIKES! That same study found that sitting for more than 8 hours a day is associated with a whole host of negative health effects. Double Yikes!

So what really happens when we are sitting all day?

The Mayo Clinic states that increased sitting can lead to:

  • Increased weight and obesity
  • Increased risk of metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels)
  • 91% increased risk of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • 14% increased risk of being diagnosed with and 18% increased risk of dying from heart disease
  • 13% increased risk of diagnosis of and 17% increased risk of dying from cancer specifically breast, colon, colorectal, endometrial, and ovarian
  • Shorter life span overall

To make matters even more scary, spending a few hours a week at the gym or working out does not seem to significantly offset the risk. It decreases it slightly, but not enough to justify those 15 hours sitting binge watching the last season of Pretty Little Liars or whatever your guilty pleasure show is.

Lastly, excessive sitting has also been linked to poor posture, decreased muscle tone, increased neck and back pain, decreased productivity at work, and decreased mood overall.

See more negative effects of too much sitting here!

Negative_Sitting

Now if you are the astute blog readers that I think you all are, you might be asking yourself, now Emma I cannot avoid sitting completely. I have to drive to work. I have a job that requires sitting. I am so tired at the end of the day, all I want to do is sit and watch my favorite show…

I am not suggesting that we eliminate sitting all together, but what I am suggesting is decreasing our sitting time to less than our standing time throughout the day. This requires a small amount of math, GASP, but I will give you the ‚Äėequation.

(24 hrs ‚Äď hrs of sleep at night) / 2 = goal # hrs you should stand

Example: (24 hrs ‚Äď 7 hrs) / 2 = 17 / 2 = 8.5 hrs of standing per day!

 Why is standing so good?

When you stand, your body is engaging more muscles to keep you up right. This leads to increased calories being burned off, which means possible weight loss and increased energy for you. Muscle activity also triggers important cell process that breakdown fats and sugars. Overall, standing more means less stagnation and stalling of your bodies systems. Also, the more you stand, the more you decrease your risk of chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

How do we do it?

No goal or lifestyle change can be accomplished without steps to get there. If you are struggling to see how you will fit more standing into your life, here are some doable ideas:

At work:

  • Take a 1-3 minute break about every 30 minutes during the day to stand or move around
  • Set a timer on your computer or phone to remind you every hour that it‚Äôs time to step away from your desk and walk down the hall
  • Instead of emailing a co-worker, chat with them over a walk
  • Schedule walking meetings or try to stand up during phone calls and meetings
  • If you can, get a standing desk or one that can move up and down

At home:

  • Stand/Exercise while watching TV or at least during the commercials
  • Stand while talking on the phone or eating lunch

In general:

  • Start by setting small standing goals, like, I am going to stand for 4 hours a day, and work your way up to 8.5 hours
  • A good goal to work up to is cutting out 2-3 hours of sitting a day

However you choose to implement your goal, let’s work towards standing more than sitting throughout the day. Improve your life! Improve your health!

I have returned! As usual, let me know what you are interested in me writing about and I will work it in!

I have returned! As usual, let me know what you are interested in me writing about and I will work it in!

My name is Emma Petshow and I am a 3rd year naturopathic medical student at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. For more about myself, check out my bio. This blog is intended for information about preventive health and lifestyle improvement. The information contained on this blog is not to be used as medical advice. For specific medical advice you should consult your physician.

Motivational Monday – Mindful Meditation

I have been doing some soul-searching over the past month and I have decided to shift my blog’s focus ever so slightly. I am still going to post workouts on Wednesday, food related items on Friday, and I will save Sunday for larger posts focused on Naturopathic remedies, health conditions, and general wellness topics.

That just leaves Motivational Mondays… I am going to use Mondays, our favorite day of the week (NOT), for stress relieving and mind focusing activities. By doing this, hopefully all of us (myself including) can do the mindful mediation, stress relieving exercise, etc. and start the week off in a positive, stress-free place.

Pretty much I want to change the perception of Monday… Change it from a sad start to a new work week and transform it into something we look forward to, something that can center us, and something that helps us manage the stressors and things called LIFE that we run into throughout the work week.¬†

Mindful Meditation

Body Scan

Get into a positive space, whether that is in your home, in your car, outside, at work, or wherever you like. Play the following recording, close your eyes, and follow the guided meditation.

Do this as much as you like over the following week! This can be a great way to fall asleep, can reduce stress, and improve overall health!

CLICK HERE FOR BODY SCAN LINK!

If you are visual like me, use this to help direct your mindful meditation today!

If you are visual like me, use this to help direct your mindful meditation today!

MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY CHALLENGE!

After doing the body scan, journal or quickly write down how you feel (good, bad, different, or otherwise). Do you feel more at east? Less stressed? If you know how to take your pulse, take it before and after… did it slow down?

If you are bold, feel free to comment on your experience below! ūüôā

Come back next week for a new stress relieving exercise and new challenge!

My name is Emma Petshow and I am a 3rd year naturopathic medical student at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. For more about myself, check out my bio. This blog is intended for information about preventive health and lifestyle improvement. The information contained on this blog is not to be used as medical advice. For specific medical advice you should consult your physician.

unnamed-1

Rosemary Salt Scrub, Tea, and Recipes!

Happy Monday and welcome back! I survived midterms, but during my studying time, I used plenty of October’s herb of the month, Rosemary for extra brain power! I wanted to share some of my favorite Rosemary uses with all of you including my Rosemary cleansing salt scrub/bath soak, brain boosting Rosemary tea, and my favorite Rosemary recipes!

First, let’s do a little recap on the healing and helpful properties of Rosemary…

wordle 5

Dew of the Sea Salt Scrub and Foot/Bath Soak!

unnamed-10

unnamedIngredients!unnamed-1

  • Dried rosemary
  • Epsom salts
  • Mason jar w/lid for storage
  • Bowl & spoon for measuring/mixing
  • Tea tree oil¬†(could also try lavender oil)

unnamed-2unnamed-4Calendula oil (store bought or homemade from September)

  • Other dried herbs¬†(I chose to use Peppermint and Calendula)

 

Instructions:

  1. unnamed-5Fill the mason jar you are using up 3/4 full with Epsom salts
  2. Pour the Epsom salts into the mixing bowl
  3. Grind up your dried herbs either with a mortar and pedestal or even with your hands until they are as small and smooth of consistency that you like (I used approximately 2 tbs worth of dried, crushed herbs for my recipe)
  4. Add the herbs to the Epsom salts and mix thoroughlyunnamed-6
  5. Add 10-15 drops of essential oils (tea tree, lavender, etc.) (WARNING: Tea Tree oil is very fragrant, if you have a sensitive nose you have been warned and open a window before this step)
  6. Add 2 tbs of Calendula oil and mix with spoon until the scrub is the same consistency all the way through
  7. Add mixture to mason jar, place on lid, and use as needed

Uses & Properties!

  • unnamed-9Use 2-4 tbs per bath, place under running, warm water, and mix to dissolve
  • Use 1-2 tsp per foot soak, place in soaking tub full of warm water, and mix to dissolve
  • Mix 1-2 tbs of scrub with 1-2 tbs of water in glass and use as a salt scrub over the body. Rinse with warm water and cleansing soap.

Rosemary:

Increases blood flow to the surface of skin, decreases inflammation, and removes toxins.

Calendula:

Antiseptic properties that cleanse pores and help increase healing of wounds/burns/acne.

Mint:

Relaxing properties that decrease inflammation and eliminates odors.

Tea Tree Oil:

Strong antiseptic properties that remove contaminating, kill bacteria, and promote healthy/clear skin.

**No time to make a salt scrub/soak? Use some tea bags of rosemary tea and place those in your bathtub for a similar nervous system relaxing and blood circulation increasing effect!**
**Rub Rosemary essential oil onto temples during a tension headache, on your jaw if you clench your jaw, or sore muscles after a workout for a soothing and tension busting effect!**
BONUS TIP! Rinse your hair with some Rosemary tea or 3-5 drops of Rosemary essential oil dissolved in water or shampoo to cleanse follicles, activate circulation, and encourage hair growth! [USE CAUTION ON COLOR TREATED OR LIGHT HAIR]

Brain Boosting Rosemary Tea

Tea is awesome in so many ways! Here are some Rosemary based tea recipes that do not only taste great, but can help improve your health as well!

Plain Rosemary:

Dry rosemary leaves in your usual tea infuser, hot water, and out comes a fantastically easy tea! Add a cinnamon stick or powder and honey to taste. This tea will relax your mood, increase circulation therefore helping heart and brain health, improves memory, and can speed up recovery after an illness.

Recovery elixer:

Combine equal parts Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, and Thyme for a tea that promotes recovery, brain power, clear thinking, and overall feel good feeling.

My Favorite Rosemary Recipes!

Rose’s Holiday Thyme Soup

This fall/winter themed soup is very tasty, gluten free, paleo approved, and sugar cleanse worthy! The best part is that you make it in a crockpot! The Cook Lite girl’s (a.k.a. myself) BFF.

Ingredients:

  • Canola oil (1 tsp)
  • 1 large onion (diced), 1+ large carrot(s) (diced), 2+ stalks celery (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced) or use minced garlic you buy from the store if this is too much chopping for you
  • 3.5 tbs minced fresh Thyme & 3 tbs minced fresh Rosemary¬†(if you can’t find fresh you can use dried)
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast (cut into 1″ cubes)¬†(vegetarian? add more veggies & some potatoes and skip the chicken)
  • 1.5 cups water or chicken stock
  • 1 cup diced green/red/yellow peppers
  • .5 tsp freshly ground black peppers

How to?

  • Heat oil in large skillet & saute the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, rosemary, chicken x 5-7 minutes until chicken is white on ALL sides/drain off excess fat
  • Put sauteed ingredients into slow cooker, sprinkle black pepper, pour in water/stock, stir –> cook on LOW x 8-9 hours
  • Add diced peppers, cover & cook on high x 30 minutes
  • Stir and serve!

Quick Garlic Rosemary Bean Dip

Dip for veggies, chips or spread for tortillas/lettuce leaves/collard greens!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked white beans
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large lemon (juiced), 1-2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1 tbs chopped fresh rosemary (or dried)
  • 1 tsp Herbarmare or sea salt
  • Bean cooking liquid as needed

How to?

  • Soak your dried beans overnight and cook them the next day
  • “Place all ingredients into food processor w/ S blade chosen”
    • If you are like me and do not¬†pretend to be an amazing chef and do not own a food processor then use a large spoon or whatever you have to smash the bean dip together
  • Add bean cooking liquid (or just plain water) until you have obtained your desired thickness
  • Place in a container and let it sit in the fridge to chill out for a while (the flavor is bigger and better if the dip sits in the fridge a bit)
  • Heat and serve!

Thats all for today folks! Thanks for reading! Share/send me your favorite uses for Rosemary and I will talk about them!

My name is Emma Petshow and I am a 3rd year naturopathic medical student at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. For more about myself, check out my bio. This blog is intended for information about preventive health and lifestyle improvement. The information contained on this blog is not to be used as medical advice. For specific medical advice you should consult your physician.

Love Yourself and Choose Kindness

We have all succumb to the sarcasm and cynicism that surrounds us in the world these days. I know I have been guilty multiple times for being in a cynical, snarky mood. Today, I wanted to remind myself and others that it is important to love yourself and choose kindness each and every day.

Since this is a blog about preventive health, you might be confused wondering why the heck I am talking about being kind when I could be telling you want food to eat to improve your blood pressure… Well young grasshopper, kindness can improve your health and here are 5 ways using science that shows it does!

1. Kindness makes us happier!

jan 2005 012

My little bro, when he was still little, getting a present at Christmas!

Well duh, but stay with me. Whenever I do something nice for someone else, I feel good. If I buy a surprise gift for my little brother, it makes me happy when he is happy. This feeling isn’t magic… it is actually biochemistry!

When you do something kind for someone else, your brain releases more endogenous opioids¬†(essentially your natural version of morphine). These “happy hormones” cause the brain to release more Dopamine so we get a natural high making us feel happier.

2. Kindness can improve heart health

Another hormone produced by the brain after an act of kindness is Oxytocin. Oxytocin acts on the whole body, but has a particular important effects on the heart. Oxytocin causes the release of the chemical Nitric Oxide in the blood vessels, which expands them (dilates them) therefore lowering blood pressure naturally!

3. Kindness slows down aging

Unfortunately I have not found the secret answer to stop father time, but kindness and happy mood has been linked to slowing down the process. Two of the main properties from a biochemical standpoint that increase aging are Free Radicals and Inflammation. While you cannot completely escape those things, living a healthy lifestyle has shown to decrease the harmful effects on the body from both.

But there is more! A recent study displays that Oxytocin (remember our blood pressure lowering friend from above), reduces levels of free radicals and inflammation in the cardiovascular system (heart), which act as another protective measure for heart disease as well as decreases the damaging effects on the whole body, slowing down aging.

Another study looked at Tibetan Buddhist Loving Kindness Meditation and saw that overall inflammation and free radicals were decreased in the body in participants doing the kindness meditation. Although the physiologic mechanism for this decrease is not confirmed, they believe it is due to modulating effects on the vagus nerve (nerve that is linked to regulating heart rate & inflammation levels in the body).

4. Kindness makes better relationships

This makes sense to anyone whether you have a science mind or not! We as humans are drawn to and like people who show us kindness. Kindness is one of the ways you can foster a connection with a new person and two is always better than one. A study showed that lasting, successful relationships came down to 2 things, one of them being kindness!

n604023254_2062982_3380

5. Happiness and kindness are contagious

Have you ever noticed that person that walks into the room¬†and flashes you a smile… what is your reaction? Well most of the time we smile back! Why is that?! They must have mind powers… No, actually it is called the “domino effect” by the New England Journal of Medicine. Some one does a kind act, whether it is smiling at you or buying your coffee and it takes off like a ripple in a lake, growing and expanding to others.

Many of you have probably heard of the “Pay it Forward” movement. If you haven’t, click here, to see some infamous pay it forward movements.

Motivational Monday Challenge!!

Ok folks, here is your challenge for the week! This week, pay it forward. Do something nice for someone else without expecting anything in return. Except what they don’t know is that besides practicing kindness you are also improving your health! If you have any unique “Pay it Forward” ideas,¬†take the quiz and write it in!

My name is Emma Petshow and I am a 3rd year naturopathic medical student at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. For more about myself, check out my bio. This blog is intended for information about preventive health and lifestyle improvement. The information contained on this blog is not to be used as medical advice. For specific medical advice you should consult your physician.

Naturopathic Medicine Week

Hey everyone and Happy October! I took a day off yesterday to recover from my birthday weekend celebration, but I am back today like a bad habit. Thank you all for the sweet birthday messages! ‚̧

In honor of my future profession and medicine in general I wanted to post about Naturopathic Medicine today since it is Naturopathic Medicine week! I mean I celebrated National Coffee Day so it only seems fair!

12122667_10153597838671147_5792148950777693652_n

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

The¬†AANMC¬†(Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges)¬†defines Naturopathic Medicine as a “primary care profession that combines the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science.” It is holistic medicine, meaning it encompasses the whole being and is centered around the patient and helping them to obtain optimum health! Sounds pretty good to me!

What is the Naturopathic Physician’s role in health care?

Naturopathic physicians (NDs or NMDs) are trained as primary care providers and can diagnose, treat, and manage patients with acute and chronic conditions. They care for all ages and genders of patients. Specific regulations and licensure laws vary from state to state. While there are NDs and NMDs practicing in all 50 US states, the licensure laws vary.

The states in blue are where Naturopathic Doctors are licensed to practice medicine.

The states in blue are where Naturopathic Doctors are licensed to practice medicine currently, while the states in brown are where laws are pending.

How is this different from the primary care provider (PCP) I have now?

Primary care or family practice doctors come in all shapes and sizes. You might not even realize that your family practice physician has different letters behind his/her name. Here are some common acronyms for PCPs:

  • MD – doctor of medicine¬†(allopathic physician)
  • DO – doctor of osteopathic medicine¬†(osteopathic physician)
  • ND or NMD – doctor of naturopathic medicine¬†(naturopathic physician)
  • NP – nurse practitioner¬†(RN nurse with masters or doctorate degree)
  • PA – physician’s assistant¬†(masters degree)
time_of_the_doctor_3

While this is “The Doctor”, this is not included in our list of primary care providers. I still wish I had my own tardis though. #nerdjokes

The ND practices as any other PCP (at least in the state of Oregon), but they attempt to address disease and dysfunction at the level of the body, mind, and spirit therefore treating the WHOLE person and attempting to find the underlying cause of a patient’s condition. An ND focuses on whole patient wellness through health promotion and disease prevention (i.e. preventive health)!

Essentially, an ND can diagnose and treat a patient using the standards of care applied by all PCPs. The goal of treatment for a Naturopathic Physician and most PCPs is to provide individualized evidence-informed therapies that balance the least harmful and most effective approaches to help restore the patient to health.¬†The main difference in care is the additional treatment modalities that can be applied by an ND and the ultimate goal of treatment, which is not just to restore the patient to baseline health, but rather help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore health and achieve optimal health.

Naturopathic Medicine Principles!

NDs have 6 principles that they base their overall approach to patient care. I am not going to spend a lot of time on these today, because I have been and will continue to feature one principle per month. Here they are below to remind you!

  1. First Do No Harm (utilize the most natural, least invasive, and least toxic therapies)
  2. The Health Power of Nature¬†(trust in the body’s inherent wisdom to heal itself)
  3. Identify & Treat the Cause(s) (look beyond the symptoms to the underlying cause)
  4. Doctor as Teacher (educate patients in the steps to achieving & maintaining health)
  5. Treat the Whole Person (view the body as an integrated whole in all its physical and spiritual dimensions)
  6. Prevention (focus on overall health, wellness, and disease prevention)

I have heard that Naturopathic Physicians practice homeopathy and I do not know if I believe/understand that. Is it true?

While it is true that some Naturopathic Physicians practice the treatment modality of Homeopathy, not all Naturopathic doctors are homeopaths! There is a DISTINCTION that I do not think people make often. An ND or NMD is a doctorate level degree program that produces licensed physicians. A homeopath or practitioner of homeopathy is NOT an ND or NMD. Do some Naturopathic doctors practice homeopathy in their practice… YES, absolutely, but not all do!

Some peoples views on Naturopathic Medicine... I wish I was as cool as Professor Dumbledore, unfortunately I am just a doctor in training. Sorry folks!

Some people’s views on Naturopathic Medicine… I wish I was as cool as Professor Dumbledore, unfortunately I am just a doctor in training. Sorry folks!

I myself have not decided if I am going to practice homeopathy in my practice based on a number of factors. On of the greatest things about naturopathic medicine is that Naturopathic Doctors have a whole arsenal of tools and treatment options to use for their patient’s including some of the following…

  • Nutrition
  • Vitamins & minerals
  • Botanical & herbal medicine
  • Physical medicine¬†(i.e. chiropractic adjustments, massage, etc.)
  • Homeopathy
  • Hydrotherapy¬†(i.e. physical therapy utilizing water)
  • Hygiene therapy¬†(i.e. stress reduction, sleep help, etc.)
  • Physical and clinical diagnosis
  • Laboratory diagnosis and diagnostic imaging
  • Emergency medicine
  • Psychology
  • Pharmacology
  • Minor surgery
  • Acupuncture and Oriental medicine¬†(depending on the physician and their training background)

 

Naturopathic doctors choose which therapies to apply to a patient’s condition based on the¬†Therapeutic Order. A hierarchy of treatment that Naturopathic doctors use to make sure we are applying the least invasive treatments first, followed by increasingly more invasive treatments last!

Therapeuitc_Order_poster500

As NDs or NMDs, we start at the bottom of the therapeutic order and work our way up to the top! We aim to provide comprehensive, healing care to our patient’s with the least disruption to their own body’s healing process! Pretty cool right!

Want to learn more?

Check out some of these websites to learn more about Naturopathic Medicine, Naturopathic Physicians, and preventive health in general!

Or you can ask me!!!! I would be more than happy to answer any questions that you have about Naturopathic medicine or preventive medicine as a profession however silly they may seem! If I do not know the answer, I will find someone who does. ūüôā

Ask me your questions! I will answer with the knowledge I have, the wisdom from others, as well as maybe a bit of wit and sass...

Ask me your questions! I will answer with the knowledge I have, the wisdom from others, as well as maybe a bit of wit and sass…

Stay tuned later on this week for a NEW core challenge, menu decoder of the month, and D.I.Y. using our Calendula oil from September!

My name is Emma Petshow and I am a 3rd year naturopathic medical student at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. For more about myself, check out my bio. This blog is intended for information about preventive health and lifestyle improvement. The information contained on this blog is not to be used as medical advice. Please consult with your primary health provider before starting a new exercise regimen. For specific medical advice you should consult your physician.

Moderation is Key

Today I wanted to just give a brief personal update about me! I embarked on a 21 day sugar cleanse, something that I tend to do 2-3 times a year with mainly positive results.

This past Friday, I had a minor medical emergency where I was seen in the hospital. Nothing ended up terribly wrong, but the doctor’s I spoke with and I agree, that I was anemic, dehydrated, and¬†just overall weak. This is a good reminder to myself and other’s that we must do everything in moderation!

A sugar cleanse can be a really healthy thing to do for your body! It allows you to detox from excess sugar and can help you kick start your metabolism among other things. At the same time, putting your body through a new diet or detox should be done when you are in a mental state and environment that is supportive and as stress free as possible (just starting a new term of medical school, while working, and moving into a new apartment is probably not the best time to cleanse). I thought I was invincible and I could cleanse regardless! Boy was I wrong!

unnamed-10

It has been 3 days since I stopped my cleanse early and while I have not gone back to eating Sour Patch Kids and cookies. My body is definitely thankful that I am eating a couple servings of fruit and some healthy carbs again. I also have regained some strength and I still do not have any bloating or digestive symptoms that I had pre-cleanse. That’s when it dawned on me! Maybe in the future, a 21 day sugar cleanse is too long for me. For my body, a 1-2 week sugar cleanse might be enough.

As Naturopathic physicians and healers and people, it is important to remember that we all are different and our bodies respond to treatments in different ways. What works for one person, might not work for you! Some one might feel great while on a Vegan diet, but someone else may be malnourished! Some people love lifting weights and running, but for others they might do better with swimming or water aerobics!

Being healthy and achieving personal optimal health is not about being extreme, it is about finding the best healthy path for your body and following it! I hope to be able to provide some options and ideas for people through my blog, but also I want to stress that what is healthy and good for some is not necessarily healthy and good for all! LISTEN to your body! Allow IT to guide to towards optimum health!

Motivational Monday Challenge!

Go outside today and reconnect with nature

Go outside today and reconnect with nature

Today take 5-10 minutes to listen to your body with a mindful meditation or grounding exercise. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground, hands comfortably in your lap, and close your eyes. While your eyes are closed, start by focusing on your breath to get in tune with you. Once you are focused on your breath, move to your heart beat. After there, do a spot check head to toe. Check in with yourself and see if you have any aches and pains anywhere. If so, focus on healing those areas while taking some deep breaths. After going through a head to toe check, come back to the present and open your eyes!

If you do this and feel more relaxed or in tune with your body, share with a friend and encourage them to check in with themselves today!

My name is Emma Petshow and I am a 3rd year naturopathic medical student at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. For more about myself, check out my bio. This blog is intended for information about preventive health and lifestyle improvement. The information contained on this blog is not to be used as medical advice. For specific medical advice you should consult your physician.

Let’s Talk About Stress

Everyone has stress, but most of us do not have a good handle on how to reduce that stress and manage it. “Why do I care about managing stress?”, you might say. “It is something everyone just deals with right…” The answer to that is yes and no.

Experts have been studying the effects of stress on health for a while now. There are now links to chronic unmanaged stress with many health conditions. We will take a look at one of those health conditions today and discuss a stress management tactic to combat it!

Heart Disease –¬†Stressed out people have an increased chance of having high blood pressure, which can lead to heart problems!

Picture1

Possible mechanism for stress leading to heart disease!

  • WHY? Science isn’t quite sure. What is known¬†is that stress can increase heart rate, blood flow, & causes the release of cholesterol & triglycerides into the blood.
  • Some studies have shown a link between increased stress hormones and atherosclerosis (hardening/narrowing of the arteries), which can put you at risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Stress also increases your chances of smoking¬†(as a possible coping mechanism) or obesity¬†(food as a coping mechanism), which both are related to increased heart risks as well as other risky behaviors.
  • Sudden emotional stress is also linked as a trigger for serious problems like¬†heart attacks!
  • What if I already have one of those conditions? Is there anything I can do? In fact, a study looked at patients who had coronary artery disease and placed them on a stress reduction plan¬†(that included diet and exercise management), and found a reduction in their disease compared to the control group after only 1 year without the use of new medications!

Stress Reduction Tricks!

The American Heart Association (AMA) has the following list of stress reduction techniques:
  1. Talk with family & friends

Being social is great medicine

Future naturopathic doctors being silly, having fun, practicing self care, and decreasing stress!

Future naturopathic doctors being silly, having fun, practicing self care, and decreasing stress!

2. Engage in daily physical activity

Check out my workout page for a growing list of ideas!

3. Embrace the things you are able to change

Things in life are always changing, embrace new things and don’t let yourself focus on past mistakes

4. Laugh!

5. Give up bad habits

Stop smoking! Limit your alcohol intake! Decrease your caffeine intake! If you have high blood pressure or are at risk for heart disease, these are not helping you cope they are hurting you in the long run.

I love my coffee... but only in moderation! Health and happiness comes first!

I love my coffee… but only in moderation! Health and happiness comes first!

6. Slow down

Practice 4 count breathing! Breath in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, breath out for 4 counts, and hold for 4 counts. Do this 4 times and you will notice a decrease in heart rate and you will feel more relaxed!

Visualize you are here... or somewhere else that relaxes you

Visualize you are here… or somewhere else that relaxes you

7. Sleep –¬†6-8 hours a night

8. Organize your life

9. Practice giving back

Volunteer, help a friend, do something for someone else! This is my challenge for you this week! 

Take the time to tell a stranger what a great job they did! It can be a receptionist, bus driver, crossing guard, restaurant server, anyone you like! We all need a boost!

10. Don’t worry, be happy!

Be like the birds, they don’t worry about what to wear or where they are going to get their food next. They just exist and live!

My name is Emma Petshow and I am a 3rd year naturopathic medical student at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. For more about myself, check out my bio. This blog is intended for information about preventive health and lifestyle improvement. The information contained on this blog is not to be used as medical advice. For specific medical advice you should consult your physician.