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By Dr. Annika
Someone asked me that the other day. I will go about answering that question the long way.
Most of us talk about “stress” meaning emotional stress and generally too much of it – it’s also known as distress. I think it can generally be summarized as: “too much to do and not enough time or energy to get it done.”
The interesting thing about this is that the stress is only detrimental if you think it is (!) and also that people who feel stressed generally have deeply meaningful lives (at least in our society where food on the table/roof over head/ not in a warzone applies) – which is a good thing and contributes to longevity.
So maybe we should all just reassess what we class as “stress” – such as instead of “I hate doing the dishes!” maybe “I feel so blessed that I have shared a delicious meal with those I care about”.
Another strategy is re-evaluating it by asking if what we are stressed about will actually matter in 5 years’ time. Prioritize the important things. And to the women in the audience: I suspect that most husbands prefer a happy and content wife to a “better homes and gardens”-ready home!
Then there is Eustress (yes, it has a name!) which is that sweet spot when you are stimulated enough to be interested and engaged but not overwhelmed.
So now here comes the answer to the question: Is there such a thing as not enough stress? YES! It’s called “boredom”. I actually think that boredom is an incredibly valuable space to be in, because this is where creativity resides.
This is when you can tune in to what exactly your heart desires just at the moment, what would feed your soul. Or where you can tune in to what your body desires – rest or walking in nature, for example. Wonderful! It’s where you try cooking a new kind of food or activity or meet new people or go somewhere you haven’t been before. I think we can agree that it is incredibly enriching.
This is when kids play games with very little raw material and build these incredible worlds and stories in their imaginations. Allow the kids to be bored rather than offering entertainment – when it gets painful enough they will come up with something.
This is also where play as a family blossoms – and families that play together stay together.
So relish boredom!
Taking this whole concept a bit further and looking at other types of stress.
Mechanical eustress for our bones, say, is walking and running in Earth’s gravity. This stimulates our bones and keeps them strong and healthy. Too much stress creates a fracture, such as a stress fracture. And not enough stress is what astronauts experience in outer space – they lose a lot of bone mass while in zero gravity and need to pound their bones for a while (gently to start with of course) so that they re-mineralize and get strong again.
Chemical stress is a bit trickier and not one I suggest fooling around with. By using certain substances, like say caffeine, we increase the production of liver enzymes that break down caffeine – as well as other compounds, which are then more easily broken down if they show up in the body. The trouble with trying to induce your liver enzymes is though that you kind of rob Peter to pay Paul, because they all require nutrients and those are scarce already with our normal Western diet. In fact, our livers are already running to capacity to deal with all the man-made chemicals in our environment (possibly one of the reasons so many of us have a hard time with diary for example); liver enzymes were really only ever designed to deal with the toxins that our own bodies produce as a normal part of our metabolism as well as a few outside nature-made toxins.
In any event, the take home message is this: A little bit of stress is actually good for you! It keeps you engaged and interested and feeling alive. Too much stress needs to be chunked down so it becomes manageable. And boredom can be a wonderful way to explore new things.
May you find your eustress sweet spot!
by Dr. Annika
EMF is an abbreviation for Electro-magnetic field.
Essentially, an electromagnetic field arises anywhere that you have electricity moving or waves of certain frequencies being emitted (tv waves are infrared, for example).
Think about it: 100 years ago, the only radiation we were exposed to were from the sun and what naturally occurs in the earth in some places. Now we live in a soup of
- tv waves
- mobile phone waves
- mobile phone towers (watch out for 5G)
- electrical appliances including computers and wiring
- WiFi (yours and your neighbours’)
- and if you have a mattress with springs and/or sleep on an electric blanket that is plugged in, you are sleeping on a sea of electricity
- the list goes on….
The reason why this is a discussion worth having is because our bodies also have an EMF. There is a voltage across every cell membrane, which is the basis for how cells keep good stuff in and bad stuff out, for example. Our nerves and muscles are famous for running on electricity, including our hearts of course.
EMFs interact with one another, just as the ripples from two stones thrown into a pond at the same time will interact, meaning that if you come into contact with an EMF it is going to have an effect on your body. The question is, of course, if this effect is harmful.
A quick google search will bring up scientific papers that conclude that there is no conclusive evidence of a link between mobile phone use and brain cancers (absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence). – The only caution with that is that radiation is the only known cause for brain cancers (that doesn’t mean it’s the only cause) because brain cells divide very little and are relatively safe from cancer; the cells that live in tissues that divide frequently are far more prone to cancers.
We do know that mobile phone waves, for example, heat up the tissues in the head, such as the brain. You might notice your eyes being dry after talking on the mobile, for example. I don’t know about you, but I personally prefer not to have my brain tissue heated up on a regular basis.
The other concern is that while they may have studied the effect of a single type of radiation on a person or animal, they have definitely not looked into what the cumulative effect is of all the different types of radiation put together. And the new 5G network is a complete unkown, as it uses waves of a length that has a different effect on tissues that the other kinds we have been exposed to for a while now. And then add in all the other toxins we are exposed to and we really have no idea whatsoever what is likely to happen.
In our opinion, it’s not worth the risk. In our practice we only rarely find that people can handle having their phone on their body using muscle testing. How long did it take before it was finally scientifically evident let alone admitted publicly that smoking tobacco is harmful and that sugar wrecks your health? And while we might not all feel like going remote to stay out of reach of reception, there are some number of things you can do to reduce your exposure. Here are some suggestions:
- Switch off your WiFi router unless you are currently using it.
- Switch your phone on flight mode if you sleep with it near you.
- Buy a mattress made from natural fibres (check out the natural bedding company)
- Please just DON’T use a smartwatch. (I mean seriously??? You need to carry your device on your wrist??? Sleep with it near your head???) Or any other emitting/receiving device for that matter.
- Only use your mobile on speakermode. Some of the few good news are that the radiation from mobiles is exponential, meaning that even if you are just at arm’s length, it will be a lot less radiation.
- PLEASE keep your phone away from pregnant bellies and also children. Children’s skulls have not yet formed fully, and so let through a lot more radiation than adult ones.
- Use protective devices (that work)
By Dr. Annika
The problem with small bad habits is that they can cause repetitive microtrauma.
I can literally see the question marks coming out of your ears!
Let me tell you what happened to me a couple of years ago: I bought a new car! Which was wonderful and exciting. The first thing I did notice was that the headrest seemed to place my head in a very forward position compared to what I was used to (I often drive along pushing the back of my head into the headrest to improve my posture while driving and getting a little stretching/strengthening done at the same time). However, all the other cars I tried had the same arrangement, and everything else was perfect, so I went ahead and bought it anyway.
I have had regular adjustments since I was 16, so my spine has always been very flexible and relatively easy to adjust. But about 6 months after the new car purchase, my upper back was incredibly stiff and became very hard to adjust. After a few of these incidents, we identified the new car as the culprit.
Solution? A small, square pillow behind my shoulderblades that would just put my body far enough forward for me to be able to sit upright in the car seat. Within a couple of weeks, my spine was back to its happy self.
So often when we think of injuries, we think of the spectacular kind, be it sporting or traffic, for example, with big wrenches or impacts. But for most of us, the injuries we acquire are doing something a little unhelpful a lot of the time. The body adapts itself to the use we put it through, to be more efficient at doing what we ask it to do. But the long-term consequences can be painful.
So what other examples do we have?
- Sitting on your wallet.
- Carrying your handbag on the same shoulder all the time.
- Carrying your child on the same hip all the time – this isn’t good for mum or bub! Babies should ideally be carried on your front or back in a sling, with the knees higher than their hips.
- Looking down as you breastfeed your child. – This is actually extremely important to do. So as often as you can, just set yourself up comfortably with pillows so your neck is supported as you are feeding.
- Feeding baby on the same side every time (when bottle feeding). This is important for the baby! When you breastfeed, Baby gets to turn his/her head each way during each feed, and so activates and stretches muscles and the spine symmetrically. This does not usually happen when a baby is bottle fed.
- Sleeping on your front.
- Resting your head in your hand.
- Sitting with your legs crossed (this tends to always be the same way too).
- Squeezing the phone between your ear and your shoulder.
- Text Neck: Sitting with your head forward as you look at your phone. This one is MASSIVE – especially for our young ones. Restrict screen time for everyone’s sake, and hold the phone up to eye level.
- Not resting your wrists as you type.
- One-sided sports.
- Playing one-sided instruments like the violin.
- Bending over while gardening for hours.
- ….. and so on.
So some of these have obvious solutions, some don’t. Most of us have a dominant side, and playing a sport or an instrument on both sides would be quite a feat indeed. So what you can do is find ways to help your body cope – regular chiropractic and massage are obvious choices. And things like yoga or pilates or T’ai Chi, where the body is stretched and strengthened in different positions and in a symmetrical way (as much as your body allows) are also really helpful. But most of all, break the bad habits and get better ones. A lot of the time, it’s as easy as finding a small pillow to put behind your back.