THE SPINAL COLUMN
ALPHA CHIROPRACTIC NEWSLETTER

JUNE 2009



Avoiding the Terrible "Vacation Disease"


For many a hard-earned rest is something we contemplate, dream about, plan, and talk about for months before the actual happy day arrives. But how often have you commenced a vacation only to come down with a cold, a migraine, a 'back attack', or worse health crisis still? If this has ever happened to you, read this article now, and read it attentively, and heed its message. Ignore this advice at your own (and your family's) peril.

 

"You work hard for your money!" Spend more hours working than what you get paid for and don't get the recognition and reward that you deserve? Vacations of one sort or another are always fast approaching and thanks to downsizing, you have got "heaps" to do before you can possibly leave your desk unattended for a few restful weeks. You know that if your work isn't up to date before you leave, no-one else will take up the slack. After all, they're all behind schedule as well! Your lunch break is shrinking even though you'd committed to getting to work half an hour early.

 

Because the kids haven't seen you enough lately they are feral. Even though you crave some time with the family you can't wait till they go to bed so you can have some peace and quiet. You don't have any trouble dropping off in front of the TV, but when you finally crawl into bed it is hard work getting off to sleep. Despite the fact that you've been feeling pretty darned tired, you awake early (if not through the night) and can't doze back off to sleep. You finally nod off fifteen minutes before the alarm is due to go off.

 

You sort of know that you haven't been eating too well but you really don't have the energy or motivation to prepare proper meals -- fast food and take-out are a regular part of the menu. On weekends you take the family out for a meal because you've all been so busy and deserve a bit of a treat. Exercise has been nonexistent, but that's OK because you have made plans to exercise every day while on vacation, and might even go for a jog if the weather permits. Who knows, if there's a gym in the town where you are staying you may even make it there a few times.

 

At last you've made it. Packing the bags and the car wasn't quite as bad as you thought it might be. The kids were even sort of well behaved on the journey. There were a few terse words exchanged while unpacking and 'setting up camp', but you are on vacation!

 

Then it happens:
1) You awake on the second morning with an itchy and sniffling nose. You haven't had a cold for ages, but end up with the worst cold you've had in years.
It takes seven to ten days to start even feeling human again. You don't get back to full health until your second week back at work.

 

Or, 2) You wake up after the first night in a strange bed and you can't turn your neck! Your head is tilted to one side and trying to straighten it sends shockwaves of pain into your shoulder. All those plans of exercising have just gone up in smoke as you can barely get dressed let alone jog or lift weights.

 

Or, 3) You've waited for ages to get the boat into the water, but as you push what seems like a light weight off the back of the trailer, a jolt of pain emanates from your lower back. You can't straighten up and end up spending a week flat on your back.

 

Or, 4) For some unknown reason you start developing weird symptoms. You can't even fully explain them to the doctor. Sort of nauseous, aches and pains which change location every day, fuzzy in the head, bowels doing strange things and so on. You spend more time in the doctor's waiting room and have more blood tests than you've had in the last 10 years! By the end of the vacation you are none the wiser as to the terminal illness you are convinced you are suffering from, but the symptoms are pretty much disappearing any way.

 

Or, 5) You have a migraine headache. Not just a mild one either. It wipes you out for two days. Sure you've been having some tension headaches at the end of the working day. But this headache is horrible. And to make matters worse, you have two more during the course of your vacation.

 

It's enough to put you off wanting to ever have another vacation!

 

All of these scenarios can basically be traced back to one root cause: the body's response to sustained stress.

 

Decades ago Hans Selye described the three stages of our response to stress - alarm, adaptation, then exhaustion. In the early days of being under stress your body goes into a state of readiness for action - the commonly quoted "fight and flight response". During this stage your adrenaline levels are high, your energy levels are heightened and your productivity levels will be increased.

 

We could be talking about mental, emotional, physical, and/or chemical variants of stress. This cannot be sustained: Your body will explode if it tries to sustain this level of stimulation. So it starts to adapt. Different hormones and nerve system chemicals come into play; these attempt to divert some of the potential harm of burning out. There's an internal battle going on between survival tactics and attack strategies.

 

Then exhaustion follows. Now here's the bit that is relevant to today's discussion. No one has fully explained the chemistry and physiology of why the exhaustion stage is activated on vacation but we do know something happens in the 'let-down' that gives your body permission to crash!

 

So how do we avoid this collapse? Obviously the strategies need to confront the three stages of the stress response: Minimize how much we push our body into 'alarm', assist the recuperative processes involved in adaptation, and ensure that the body is not at the point of exhaustion when arriving at your vacation spot.

 

Here are my top eight tips for managing your last few weeks at work:

 

1) "The graveyard is full of indispensables": The secret to not overworking coming up to a vacation is to understand the difference between important and urgent. Spend your time working on the most important activities of your job, and not putting out scrub fires. That way if you don't get everything finished before you leave, at least the main stuff will be under control.

 

2) Keep exercising!: Make this a non-negotiable in your work schedule. (Notice I include this in your work schedule and not your home schedule). Not only does exercise clear your mind, and keep you physically fitter to cope at work; it helps burn off some of the damaging hormones and chemicals produced in the alarm and adaptation stages of stress.

 

3) Eat better than you do the rest of the year: Eat more vegetables and salads. Snack on fresh fruit and nuts. Drink volumes of water while working instead of extra cups of coffee. The effects of stress will make you crave fat, sugar and caffeine; don't listen to those inner voices telling you to give in!

 

4) Increase your vitamin intake (or if you normally don't take vitamins, start): Start taking some vitamins and antioxidants preferably from organic whole food sources. If you already take some form of supplements, take more than you normally do -- only if it is OK to do so.

 

5) Maintain your boundaries: If you're spending so much time on your work that you are not working on your other relationships, then you are missing out on some of the best coping strategies available. Keep talking to your loved-ones, keep talking to God, keep reading, meditating, praying, and so on.

 

6) Have fun - preferably at work!: If you are not having fun at work then it means you are going to have to make even more time outside of work hours to do it. It's that important for your stress management to be laughing and feeling joy that it cannot be put off. So start having fun, or else!

 

7) Take more regular vacations: If you have vacation days accrued then plan a strategy with your employer to take them. This way you won't have two years of accumulated stress waiting to pounce on you when you finally do take that well earned rest.

 

8) Keep up your chiropractic adjustments: So often I see people 'disappear' or come in more sporadically the weeks leading up to a vacation. It may seem a like a waste of time to have an adjustment while you're so stressed, but that's actually when you may need it the most! Make sure you understand this? The less time you think you have to keep up regenerative activities - the more you need to do them!

Try following these 8 strategies so you can enter into a vacation state of mind and body today -- that way it won't be such a big let down when you really get there.

 

What Does My Life Energy Do?


Your innate intelligence is like the score sheet (music) of a symphony. It uses the nerve system (the conductor) to control and coordinates the trillions of cells in your body so they work harmoniously together for a common purpose.

 

Have you ever wondered if there might be certain things that take priority over others when it comes to your health? Which is more urgent; digesting a meal, healing a cut, or forming a memory?

 

If the amount of energy available to you each day were infinite, there would probably be no need for your innate intelligence to prioritize what it gives energy to. But, just like your monthly financial budget, the amount of energy available to you each day is limited. Doesn't it make sense then that your innate intelligence always makes sure that the most crucial functions receive Life Energy first? Here is our current understanding of how your innate intelligence delegates your Life Energy:

 

Priority #1: Animation
· We're not talking about cartoons here; we're talking about being alive. The very first priority is to make sure you are alive - that you SURVIVE! No energy is given to any other functions until this is assured.

 

Priority #2: Coordination
· This is like the difference between what you hear during the warm-up of a symphony and the actual concert. It allows the different parts of your body to work harmoniously together toward a common purpose. Coordination is simply another way of saying NORMAL FUNCTION.

 

Priority #3: Adaptation
· Once your body is functioning normally, extra energy is used to adapt to all of the physical, chemical, and emotional stresses you face each day. The more fully you express your innate intelligence, the more easily your body can resist, adapt to, and integrate these stresses without breaking down.

 

Priority #4: Repair
· Once your body is handling the stresses it is facing, it can now better repair any damage that has occurred. Since every day parts of your body are breaking down, it is also important to have the resources available to rebuild and repair you every day. This is more than

resistance; this is resilience!

 

Priority #5: Growth
· The final use of your Life Energy is for advancing and growing. Growth is something that occurs in many aspects. When young, growth is mainly physical as you get taller and stronger, and as your brain develops new pathways. As you enter into adulthood, growth becomes primarily mental, emotional, and spiritual.

 

When you look at these priorities for the use of your Life Energy, where do you see yourself? Are you barely surviving? Are you functioning normally? Are you handling the stresses you face each day? Are you resilient and growing? You can see that it is of the utmost importance to maximize the expression of your innate intelligence in your body to get the most out of life! Three things are necessary to keep moving steadily toward health, wellness and wholeness:

 

1.) A Deliberate and Positive Focus - This creates positive, healing biochemistry in your body.

 

2.) A Healthy Lifestyle - It is crucial to continually provide your body with the raw materials it needs.

 

3.) A Clear Neurological Connection between your brain and body- This makes sure all of your cells are working together to create harmony, maximizing the expression of your Life Energy and your health!

 

Making sure your spine is properly aligned and functioning through regular chiropractic care will help you and your family maintain clear neurological connections and maximize the expression of your innate intelligence. This will allow you to move consistently toward the fuller expression of health and life!

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