Tag Archives: Stress

Overwhelmed?

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I am overwhelmed.  Who hasn’t said that?  But what does it really mean?  The definition is “to load, heap, treat, or address with an overpowering or excessive amount of anything.”  That is certainly true when it comes to all of the health and wellness advice that we hear.

I truly believe that everyone wants to feel good and to be healthy.  There are so many reasons that we have trouble striving for, and reaching, improved health.  These reasons can be emotional, physical, political, and many others.  Add in the vastness of information at our disposal, much of which is confusing and contradictory.  How are we supposed to navigate all of this, and who has the time to do it anyway?

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Sometimes we have to make the time if we are faced with serious illness in our lives.  We need to be able to find reliable and valid information.  Please, please, please remember that what we read is not always true just because it comes from an excellent public speaker and/or a doctor.  Solid starting points are:  WebMDHealthfinder.gov, US Department of Health and Human Services.  Take advantage of their search functions.  Also, Wikipedia is always a great place to start a search, but keep in mind that the information can be posted by anyone at any time and always needs to be verified.

prioritize

So what is the most important aspects of health and wellness to concerns ourselves about?  Exercise?  Diet?  Stress control?  Should we worry about butter vs. margarine?  Alkaline vs. acidic?  Carbs vs. fat?  Organic vs. conventional?  The concerns seem endless.  And for each concern there are multiple and conflicting opinions as to what we should be doing.  Then, just when we think we have it figured out, the experts discover something new and everything we know as true is turned upside down.  Frustrating?  Yes.  Yes it is.  But it is also the nature of the proverbial beast.  As our technology and understanding evolve and increase, so do our core beliefs on what is healthy.

Certainly when our lives are effected by a specific illness we tend to concentrate on that one as the most important.  If we are predisposed to a disease, that should be of greater importance to us to learn about.  Knowledge is power… as long as we are willing to implement that knowledge.  Just how much time and energy do we need to spend researching all aspects of health and wellness in order to improve our health and quality of life?

Good_News

The good news is that for most of us, simply being mindful goes a long way toward improving our health and wellness.  Start with the basics, my personal mantra:  balance, moderation, and variety.  They all are all different, yet each ties in with the others:

download     Balance:
Work and play, good food and junk food, spending and saving, exercising and relaxing… It doesn’t matter what it is.  Too much of one and not enough of the other infringes on our health and happiness.  When we balance all aspects of our existence we can enjoy a healthier, happier life.

images (2)     Moderation:
Anything taken to the extreme can be harmful.  As I’ve mentioned before, that includes drinking too much water.  Not only do we want to balance relaxation with exercise, we also want to exercise in a safe manner and not push harder than our bodies can safely handle.  If we are not active, we need to work up to strenuous activities.  “Weekend athletes” suffer injuries due to their lack of conditioning.  If we “work hard and play hard” we are balanced, but if we are pushing ourselves too hard in each of them, we will suffer from the lack of moderation in both.

Variety of fresh vegetables at market. Siem Reap     Variety:
We all know how important it is to have variety in our diet.  Different colored fruits and vegetables each provide distinct health properties.  We need a variety of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in order to survive and thrive.  Most of us eat wheat (white or processed whole wheat) at every meal and for snacks in between.  Many of our bodies are rejecting the wheat we are consuming at every meal (and it’s not the same wheat our grandparents ate.)  We are complex organisms.  When we consume a large variety of healthy foods we don’t have to concerns ourselves with the specifics of eating the right combination of nutrients.  When we vary our exercise routines we are working different muscle groups and different systems.  By varying our mental activities, we work different parts of our brains.

When we are mindful and aware of what we are doing to and with our bodies, we can do so with balance, moderation, and variety which will increase our health and wellness.  Will you start with being mindful and perhaps throw a little more balance, moderation, and variety in?  I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the outcome!

The Pressure of Blood Pressure

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Blood pressure seems to be something we all know about, yet don’t really know.   It is simply the force of our blood against the walls of our blood vessels.  Our blood pressure is determined by the health of our circulatory system (strength of our heartbeat, elasticity of our artery walls, amount and thickness of our blood), and our age and health (physical condition,)

We all know how it is measured, but do we know what they are really measuring?!  They are measuring the force of the blood against the wall of an artery in our left arm, closest to our heart.  The top number (systolic pressure) is the measure of the pressure against the artery wall when our heart beats or pumps.  The bottom number (diastolic) is measured between beats while the heart is resting or refilling.  I’m currently learning how to listen to and measure it myself – it’s much harder (for me, anyway) than I thought!

Here is a brief video overview of blood pressure.

I was always taught that 120/80 is “normal.”  My research shows that we should be anywhere between 90/60 and 120/80, so 120/80 is the top of the ‘normal’ range.  According to WebMD:

Normal blood pressure rises steadily from about 90/60 at birth to about 120/80 in a healthy adult. If someone were to take your blood pressure immediately after you’d delivered a speech or jogged five miles, the reading would undoubtedly seem high. This is not necessarily cause for alarm: It’s natural for blood pressure to rise and fall with changes in activity or emotional state.

We should check our BP whenever we have the opportunity, or visit our doctors.  One high reading is not a problem, but if we have two consistently high readings, we should consult with our medical practitioners.

Risk factors include:  Family history, advanced age, gender-related risk factors, lack of physical activity, poor diet (including too much salt), overweight and obesity, and too much alcohol.  Additional risk factors may include:    Stress, smoke (first and second-hand), and sleep apnea.  For more information see Understand Your Risk for High Blood Pressure.

If we have high blood pressure, or if we want to prevent it, there are a number of things we can do:

  1. Eat healthier food
  2. Move more
  3. Maintain a healthy weight
  4. Manage stress
  5. Avoid tobacco smoke
  6. Take medications properly if prescribed
  7. Limit alcohol if consumed

Details for these tips can be found by clicking the respective hot-links in Prevention & Treatment of High Blood Pressure.

As always, moderation and balance.  Small changes add up.