So far 2009 has been a rollercoaster ride - many great new developments. And yet the worldwide economic turmoil has been very, very rough on most people. Stress levels have been sky high, and stress saps a person's energy. Even the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is concerned. In March 2009 the DHHS posted "Getting Through Tough Economic Times" to its website1, highlighting possible health risks and strategies for managing stress.
Excess stress causes the adrenal glands to pump out adrenaline on an ongoing basis. This "fight or flight" hormone is designed to be released for short bursts of energy. Continuous release of adrenaline begins to wear down key body systems, resulting in even more levels of internal stress. Precious energy resources are wasted by excessive adrenaline, and cells and tissues begin to fail in critical functions. Breakdown in the form of actual disease is not far behind. Also, high stress levels may cause a person to lose sleep or have less-than-restful sleep. This only adds to the burden of stress.
New energy sources are needed to combat the losses of energy and restore health to the body.
One main source of energy, of course, is food. "But I eat enough," you say. "In fact, I'm trying to cut down and lose weight." It's not the quantity of food you eat. Eating the right kinds of food in the right combinations provides the energy we need. Otherwise, food calories are just packed on as additional fat cells, rather than being used for energy.
The right kinds of food are nutrient-dense, rather than being calorie-dense. Whole grains, lean meat, fish, high-quality dairy products, and fruits and vegetables are all nutrient-dense foods. Double cheeseburgers with french fries are calorie-dense and low in nutrition. Sprouted grain breads are nutrient-dense. White bread is calorie-dense.
It takes a little work to figure out which foods are healthy and which are not. But once you've done your homework and gotten used to reading labels, it becomes easy to choose the foods that will provide valuable energy and nutrients to you and your family.
Exercising regularly provides a person with lots of energy.2 People who exercise regularly fall asleep right away, need less sleep, and usually wake up rested and refreshed. They have energy throughout the day to do what they need to do and rarely "crash" in the middle of the day.
How does all this happen? Regular exercise resets your metabolic clock. Training your muscles also trains your metabolism to work efficiently. You spend less energy to make more energy. It's a remarkable system.
Another key part of the energy puzzle is finding some quiet time during the day to recharge your batteries.3 Most of us are not aware of the importance of this "alone time". Our lives are very hectic and we really do need some quiet time to allow us to decompress. "But I'll never find time in the day to do that," you say. That's right. People need to proactively create the time, even though it seems impossible. Once you begin setting aside ten or fifteen minutes each day to just sit and center yourself, you'll find you actually want to make the time to engage in this highly restorative and energizing activity.
The bottom line? More energy is available to each of us - we just need to plan and make sure we're taking the time to do things that support us. Eating the right foods, making time for regular exercise, and making room for quiet time will bring you a new sense of peace, well-being, and true, meaningful accomplishment.
Your chiropractor is an expert in creating lifestyle programs that will assist you in improving your well-being and quality of life. She will be glad to help you develop exercise and nutritional plans that will work for you.
1- "Getting Through Tough Economic Times", U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - http://www.samhsa.gov/economy/
2- Marshall DA, et al: Achievement of heart health characteristics through participation in an intensive lifestyle change program (coronary artery disease reversal study). J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev 29(2):84-94, 2009
3- Orme-Johnson DW: Commentary on the AHRQ report on research on meditation practices in health. J Altern Complement Med 14(10):1215-1221, 2008