Benefits of body-treatment in stress management


On 16/6/2017 I took part in the morning panel of the International Stress Management Association’s (ISMA) annual conference. The question Jeremy Nicholas, the MC for the day, asked me was: As an osteopath, can you give us the benefit of body-treatment in stress management? My succinct answer (or at least trying to) was…

It was at first my patients who pointed this out to me.

Patients mainly go to an osteopath for neck, shoulder or back pain and that wasn’t any different for me 10 years ago when I started my practice.

However, the feedback I received on a second visit weeks or sometimes months later astounded me. Not only did they experience the expected pain relief but also reported to be able to concentrate better, saw things clearer when decision had to be made, some said that they had the same amount of stress but that they were able to handle it much better, like stress didn’t bother them anymore. Some even reported to have more time.

When more and more patients started to report behavioural and mental benefits after a single treatment I started to be intrigued and went searching for an explanation.

We all know that from a biological perspective the stress-response is regulated by the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis.

A gentle touch like in certain massages is proven to increase vagal tone and thus can influence indirectly adrenaline, noradrenalin levels and decrease heart rate, blood pressure and muscular tension.

Certain forms of osteopathy that include craniosacral therapy and fascia therapy have proven to improve ANS balance greatly and influence HPA-axis.

I eventually created the Reaset Approach a novel body-mind and educational stress-management approach and did some research where I used Heart Rate variability measurements, State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) on top of a pain questionnaire I was able to prove that it has an significant influence on all of these.

Question is still, how? As I said before touch plays an important role but also specific body centres like the occiput, frontal bone, and neck are structurally related to the ANS and the temples with the amygdala and pituitary gland.

In stress management and psychotherapy I think osteopathy that includes ANS balancing can make a real sustaining  difference.

 


Patient feedback after a single Osteopathy with Reaset Approach consultation:

Where to begin… First of all I’m feeling much better today than some months ago. I experienced a very difficult period after a death of a loved one. I completely isolated myself from the outside world (family, friends & colleagues…). I went through constant cerebration, throat tightness, anxiety, depressed, black thoughts and loneliness. Those feelings didn’t go away even while close people tried to help me much as they could.

A friend of me advised me to follow a session at an osteopath and got me an appointment.

The first intake was very stressful for me as I didn’t knew what to expect. Tom asked me some questions about my complaints (physically & mental). When Tom started the session I didn’t feel physically & mentally relaxed but when it was finished I really felt a BIG difference. I felt physically relaxed and free in my mind (constant cerebration stopped) and this was the first time I got this feeling after months 

Tom is very a GOOD Osteopath, friendly and knows what he is doing and takes the time for it. I’m definitely going back 

Once again Tom a BIG THANK YOU for the help during this difficult process I went through, which got my life be back on track 

Kindly regards

SH

 

For more info visit my website www.tommeyers.be

 

A more comfortable lifestyle = a health adverse lifestyle

Human vs. Transhuman

In 2012 a pan-European poll on occupational safety and health asked the question: “Do you think that the number of people suffering from job-stress (in your country) will increase, decrease or stay the same over the next 5 years?” The result was that 77% (8 out of 10) said it would increase and 47% of respondents answered that it would increase a lot.

We are now 2017, 5 years later and people suffering from job-stress did increase. It is estimated that the cost to European businesses and social security systems adds up to €600 billion a year. With this number in mind it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has dubbed stress has the Health epidemic of the 21 century.

In my article “Stress: A conflict between biology and culture” which was published in Executive Secretary magazine earlier this year, I depicted an evolutionary perspective of why stress has become such a nuisance to our health and wellbeing.

In brief I wrote that since we’ve been able to manipulate fire we’ve started to make changes into our environment, to make life easier. The agricultural, industrial and technological revolution followed each other up with increasing speed, radically changing within an extremely short time the fundamental ways we life and work.

While society was focused on modernisation – to make life easier – to get more leisure time by creating ever more sophisticated tools so that things could get done quicker, the contrary has happened. Modernisation has enslaved us, we work harder and longer, the boundaries between work and play have become increasingly blurred, and it has made individualism the dominant mode of thinking. All leading to more stress.

In other words a ‘more comfortable lifestyle’ has created a ‘health adverse lifestyle’ that is making us sicker by the day. Here are a few examples of these comfortable – adverse lifestyle changes:

  • Access to a car reduced physical activity and most people have jobs where they sit all day  and watch tv in the evening reducing physical activity for some to nearly nil.
  • While physical active has significantly decreased we eat more, especially more fatty and processed food.
  • Modernisation also came with the idea that for example smoking was good for you… and although everyone knows now that it isn’t, that 80% of all lung cancers are related to it is still promoted.

The rise in technological and economic progress has made life easier but what we didn’t see coming were the adverse effects on our health and wellbeing. While ‘modernisation’ was supposed to increase our quality of life it is instead reducing it. The number of chronic degenerative diseases and mental disorders, especially, coronary heart disease, cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes, accidents, musculoskeletal disorders, stress, depression and dementia will keep rising if we continue like this.

Another alarming aspect of modernisation is that on the size of our brain. John Hawks a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin explains:

“Over the past 20,000 years, the average volume of the human male brain has decreased from 1,500 cubic centimetres to 1,350 cc, losing a chunk the size of a tennis ball. The female brain has shrunk by about the same proportion. “I’d call that major downsizing in an evolutionary eye-blink,” he says. “This happened in China, Europe, Africa—everywhere we look.” If our brain keeps dwindling at that rate over the next 20,000 years, it will start to approach the size of that found in Homo Erectus, a relative that lived half a million years ago and had a brain volume of only 1,100 cc.”

http://discovermagazine.com/2010/sep/25-modern-humans-smart-why-brain-shrinking

… and chronic stress and anxiety – if not attended too – will increase that shrinking rate as stress shrinks your brain…  (Ensell, et al. 2012)

As an osteopath and stress-coach, I’m very concerned about the detrimental effect of stress on our health and wellbeing, and the influence of the fundamental ways our life and work has changed.

I’ve also started to notice that a new and even more dramatic health problem is arising. While until recently diseases of affluence were effecting people essentially on a physical and mental level, the information revolution and the rise of artificial intelligent devises is causing a rise in problems of a more existential and spiritual nature.

When more and more elements of life are taken over by tools, the very foundations of life, its meaning, purpose and our values are being questioned. I hear and see it every day in my practice that people are struggling with this. Struggling with the pace of life, with just being a number, a link in a chain in which they don’t see or know the end product. There is a deep longing for purpose and meaningfulness in a world were exactly that is taken away and outsourced to technology. It outs itself in a body-mind disconnection, feelings of hopelessness and numbness.

I refer to this as spiritual stress, a stress that arises from a disconnection within oneself as a result of the increase in automation. Spiritual stress and its effects on our health and wellbeing is here and together with the physical and mental health problems it will only rise further if we don’t start to learn from our past mistakes.

It frightens me to think that the current trend for solving the stress epidemic is based on the idea that “if work-related stress is due to the demands on employees being greater then their resources” we need to “increase automation so that the demands on the employees becomes less.”

On first glance this is a very logical solution to the current problem but we’ve just seen that a more comfortable lifestyle has an adverse effect on our health… and brain size!? This will only increase the current problems. We need to start to think differently…

Automation can not be stopped, robots and artificial intelligence is here and are here to stay and that is the way it is. However we have to start to think and find solutions to how to stay healthy in body, mind and spirit in this a more automated world.

Question like: How do we stimulate human evolution? What does my body, mind and spirit need to evolve? What do I really need to be happy and thrive?

If we don’t ask these questions the human race as we know it will go extinct, it will be replaced by transhumans and cyborgs…. is this what we want? Really?????

When I talk to patients about this or raise the question during or after my keynote presentations none have said they are ok with this… all choose the return of a ‘HUMAN’ solution and evolution.

What are your thoughts?

Do you choose humanity, with life as the centre of our Universe or technology?


Tom Meyers is an osteopath, stress coach and visionary in the field of health and wellbeing. He runs a private health practice in Brussels. He’s an inspiring international keynote speaker the topic of ‘Understanding & Managing Stress’. Tom also runs workshops on the ‘Reaset Approach’ a novel manual body-mind and educational health approach he developed. In 2017 he will publish his first self-help and help-others book in which he interlaces soul-purpose, personal development, health and healing into a compelling guide to thrive.

Want to book Tom as a keynote speaker for your upcoming event then fill in the contact form below or get in touch with him through his website reaset.me

References:

Here is a short film by Futurist Speaker Gerd Leonhard, produced in association with Accenture on digital transformation that is worth watching.

Let’s talk about stress

Stress: A conflict between biology and culture

Article Published in Executive Secretary Magazine: 25 January 2017

Tom Meyers explains why stress has become a nuisance and what we can do about it

Over the last few years many words have been spoken and written about stress and numerous actions undertaken to do something about it. However, stress is still on the rise. It is estimated that  % to 90%  of all visits to primary care physicians are now directly or indirectly related to stress. And stress after musculoskeletal pain has become the second most frequently reported work-related health problem in the EU. These are alarming facts and figures.

But what is stress:  why has it become a nuisance and what, if anything, can  we do about it?

As an osteopath and stress-coach I’ve been contemplating these three questions for many years and have started to share through presentations and workshops, my insights and professional experience.

Stress as you might have realised by now is  something very elusive. Hans Selye, the “father of stress” once  said, “Everyone knows what stress is, but nobody really knows.” With this statement, he meant that stress has a different meaning for different people under different conditions. For example,  when someone says, “I have a lot of stress” they can mean that they have a lot to do or express a feeling of nervousness or being jittery. Which makes talking  about stress very complicated.

Even scientists can’t seem to make up their mind about what stress is. There are ten or more definitions depending on the viewpoint of the scienti fic field: biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, …

Consequently, I like to clarify some words first.  When I speak of a ‘stressor’ I mean the elements that cause the stress response to be activated. When I use the word ‘stress’ I use it to refer to  the biological response of the body to any demand (stressor) mediated by physiological adaptations and bringing  about the physical, psychological and social/behavioural (biopsychosocial) changes.

So, what is stress? 

Stress, together with ease, are part  of the human bimodal adaptation response. Stress or the fight-flight response is that part of our adaptation response that is activated when an action is needed or danger is perceived. Physiologically this means that when the brain perceives a stressor it immediately activates  the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which stimulates adrenaline and noradrenaline to be released . These hormones in turn increase  heart rate, blood pressure, redirect blood from the skin and intestinal tract to skeletal muscles and release glucose from the liver into the blood stream. After this initial reaction, the brain sends  a message to the adrenal gland to produce cortisol which prevents  insulin to store energy, it also shunts  blood and glucose distribution away from the neocortex to the more primitive parts of the brain. In addition, cortisol  inhibits the immune system and decreases libido.

Just imagine this: you’re crossing a street and a car is coming your way at high speed (stressor). What  do you expect your body to do and what not? Exactly, you must flee, get out of the way instantaneously and not think what to do first, nor contemplate, your intelligence, creativity or charisma, or have thoughts about sex. No, everything is directed towards getting  your body, the vehicle of your soul out of danger.

When the stressor is over, in the example given meaning you’re safe on the pavement again, ease or also referred to as the relaxation-recuperation-regeneration response sets  in. Physiologically this means activation of the parasympathetic branch of the ANS to stimulate the release of serotonin and muscle relaxation, which reduce s heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure. Furthermore, vasodilation in the skin and intestinal tract is promoted which stimulate s digestion. As cortisol levels drop, the  inhibitory effect on immunity and healing is lifted and normal blood and glucose distribution is  re-established in the brain. However, the drop of cortisol only starts to be effective 20 minutes or so after the stressor is over.

In other words, the stress-ease response is an operating system where you have the stress response which is all about survival and protection at one end of the spectrum … and which uses energy, causes wear and tear and on the other end you find ease, a response where you unwind, store energy, recuperate and regenerate… to be ready for the next challenge.

All of this is being regulated by the brain and is a very individual process.

So why has stress become a nuisance?

The explanation takes us back in time as stress per se is not really the problem. Stress is part of the adaptation response that evolved to protect ourselves from acute physical stressors but which hasn’t had an update since prehistoric times. Biological evolution is notoriously slow and requires certain stimuli to effectuate genetic adaptation covering several generations.

And here lies the crunch. Some researcher say that genetic evolution in humans is actually no longer relevant. Why? Because  as a species we now depend on technology and culture for our survival rather than random mechanisms of variation and selection.

What that means is that when humankind first walked this earth it adapted itself to the environment until it saw the light and started to adapt its environment to its needs.

However, in recent years technology has allowed us to modify our environment so effectively that our environment and culture has changed at a higher rate than  we can cope with biologically. Technology has removed our species from nature and from ourselves. This conflict between biology and culture or in other words the unhealthy relationship between human adaptation an d the environment is why stress has become a nuisance.

While technological progress and the many tools that have been developed (computer, smart phone…) were supposed to give us more leisure time they’ve created an environment that makes us work harder and longer, and where the boundaries between work and play have become increasingly blurred. Thus, increasing our time in the fight-flight  response (see above). On top of that the same fight-flight  response which is ideal for jumping away from that car is also being triggered for stressors like psychosocial risk: information-overload, job insecurity, non-ethical management decisions, etc.

As a result, the body gets less and less time to recuperate and regenerate. On a physiological level, we’re depleting our energy reserves, and becom ing more prone to infections, cancer and other life threatening diseases  as our bodies ’ immune response among other systems is being inhibited chronically. That being said  the structure and function of our brain is changing too. Yes, chronic stress reduces the size of parts of your brain including the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex which are related with memory and cognition. While on the other hand  stress it increases the volume of the amygdala, a part of the brain that is related to fear. In the brain,  size does matter and thus with the amygdala making more neural connections fear and anxiety increase  while neurons in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex atrophy and with it rational thinking, creativity, etc. are becom ing more and more of a challenge. All of this is due to the effect of cortisol on vascularisation and glucose distribution in the brain.

So the more we rely and lead our life to the rhythm of technology the less resilient we become. Recent ly published health statistics on burnout and long term sickness (in Belgium) corroborate this. Neuropsychiatrist Theo Compernolle MD., Phd. Explained that young people between 25 and 35 have become the most important group experiencing burnout. According to him, people in this are continuously connected, while connected multitask and thus increasing the time spent in the stress response . More time they spend  ‘in stress’ the more inefficient they become and end up in a downward spiral where burnout is just the inevitable outcome.

With all of that in mind, is there anything we can do to manage stress more effectively? Yes, but it asks for your personal contribution and investment. Technology is still progressing, and with virtual reality and robotics becoming more integrated in our lives it will continue to change our environment, culture and society.

They key to effective stress management is to understand that stress becomes a nuisance when the demands on you as an individual outweigh s your resources. With the increase in stressors eliciting  the stress response it is thus an imperative that you return to ease or the word I created for it : “reaset” on a regular basis in counterbalance.  Spend enough time to physically and psychologically recuperate and regenerate your resources. This “reaset” time is essential to increase your resilience (measure for health).

The essence of a reaset is an activity you choose to do that stimulates parasympathetic activity, lowers your heart rate, breath rate, blood pressure, relaxes muscles, reduces adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, and increase s serotonin levels. I do say activity and not sitting in the sofa. I noticed in a clinical study I conducted in 2015 that some people (whose  adaptation response is incapable of returning to ease) actually were more stressed doing nothing. This phenomenon can be explained by the fact that subconsciously a stressed person is always on the lookout for danger. When that sabre toothed tiger is upon you, when your survival is at stake would you sit down and relax?

For your information, running is also a no go when you’re in the grip of stress. For those whose adaptation response is not functioning properly going for a run  will lead to more stress. More stress that will more likely than  not get them into an early grave from a cardiac aneurysm or stroke. This is more common than  you think and it usually happens at an untimely moment like in a park or the woods where no doctor can come to a timely.

To sum up, stress is a part of our biological adaptation response. However,  stress has become a nuisance due to a rising conflict between biology and culture. While biology is notoriously slow to evolve our environment and culture, due to influence of technology, has changed with a faster pace than that our biology can cope with.

The only way you can curb the trend is to become mindful of your body’s  needs and by including enough time to “reaset” in your day. Your biology is genetically primed for danger and as our society is ruled by bigger, better, faster, stress has become the rule rather than the exception.

You must start to take time to consciously stimulate the ease response. This can be done through breathing exercises, mediation, mindfulness, relaxing walks… by whatever that gives you energy instead of taking it away. Choose activities that will counterbalance the impact of stress and that will give your body recuperation and regeneration  it needs. Of course, you can  wait for society to change but then you’re only waiting for yourself as you are the society. It’s up to you. Your body is your responsibility. Reconnect with your body, with your nature, your values…

In your spare time,  do less and enjoy more. Disconnect from technology on  time. Discover who you are, spent time doing a meaningful activity.

While at work and even when your job is demanding take regular “reaset” breaks. Time invested you will recuperate through being more efficient afterwards. Become aware of your stress response being activated and reduce it consciously with a practiced regulating breathing exercise. Remember stress is a friend not a foe, a friend with special needs and only you can provide those.

Open the discussion at work with managers and staff alike. Evaluate psychosocial risks, designs plan to reduce it, implement and evaluate in time. But most importantly it is you who must be good to yourself and manage your stress as no one can do that for you.

References

Eurofound and EU-OSHA (2014), Psychosocial risks in Europe: Prevalence and strategies for prevention, (PDF) Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.

EU-OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at work: Milczarek, M., Schneider, E., Gonzalez, E.R., (2009). OSH in figures: stress at work – fact and figures. (PDF) Luxembourg office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

Fink (2016). Stress: concepts, cognition, emotions, and behaviour. handbook of stress, volume 1. Elsevier.

Meyers (2015). The effect of the Reaset Approach on the autonomic nervous system, state trait anxiety and musculoskeletal pain in patients with world related stress: A pragmatic randomised trial.

J.T. Stock (2008). Are humans still evolving? European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) vol. 9.


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Tom Meyers is an osteopath, stress coach and visionary in the field of health and wellbeing. He runs a private health practice in Brussels. He gives regular inspiring presentations in Belgium and abroad on the topic of ‘Understanding & Managing Stress’. Tom also runs workshops on the ‘Reaset Approach’ a novel manual body-mind and educational health approach he developed. In 2017 he will publish his first self-help and help-others book in which he interlaces soul-purpose, personal development, health and healing into a compelling guide to thrive. In January Tom, will deliver an interactive presentation to the members of EUMA (soon to be IMA) Belgium zooming in on ethical conflicts and the impact on work-related stress and burnout. For more information , visit be.euma.org. If you want to know more about Tom, or invite him to your own event, take a look at his: reaset.me.

The Pursuit of Happiness

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Tom Meyers offers seven tips on the road to true contentment
Article published in Together Magazine 54 December 2014

The promotion of wellbeing is essential to the pursuit of happiness. Self-Realisation or honing and living your potential and the sense of fulfilment it brings you is one way to promote that wellbeing.

However, self-realisation, being in alignment with your life’s purpose, is a long-term process, a life-long mission, to be enjoyed every step of the way as there is no true end to self-realisation – it is more like a direction than a destination.

Just like a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, it’s not about arriving, it’s about the experiences, the teachings on the way, the stories, the landscapes, the smells, the tastes of the local delicacies, the culture and, of course, the victory over oneself, having walked the distance and fulfilled a dream.

When you arrive you do look back on your achievement, contemplating on how you did it and then look towards the future, ready for the next challenge on your path. Self-Realisation is being in perpetual discovery of oneself, of pealing off the layers, in order to come closer to the real you.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are also about short-term objectives. To have a vision and become who you were born to be is essential, but living is about here and now. Do not get caught up in the vision itself and forget to live in this moment. And that moment is very much in peril in today’s hectic, online, harder, better, faster and stressful environment, where time becomes as elusive as our health, wellbeing and happiness.

You can change the tide and become a master of your own happiness and live a life where you manage your stress. Stress is after all an essential survival response and part of being human. If you’re living a super-human life, stress does become a nuisance.

Research suggests that up to 40% of happiness depends on our habits and activities.

How to promote health, wellbeing and happiness in seven simple steps:

Step 1: Take time-out

If not you, who will do it for you? Taking breaks is essential and short breaks now and then help you to make up time afterwards. This might be counter-intuitive but it’s true. For example when you struggle writing, when you hit that wall, go for a walk, breathe in some fresh air. You’ll feel more focus afterwards.

Step 2: ‘Return to Ease’

Numerous scientific studies have proven that breathing exercises, where you become mindful of your breath and induce a sense of calm and joy, a meditation or a mindfulness exercise, help to reduce anxiety, treat depression, reverse the effects of stress and help you to be more focused. The more you practice the quicker you’ll get back into the zone after a stressful moment.

Step 3: Inner forgiveness

Can you forgive yourself? There is something very liberating in inner forgiveness, which changes your attitude towards a past experience. To be the observer of yourself, your thoughts, your feelings and to forgive yourself by accepting what was and to let go of the anger, fear, rage and other emotions that you feel when recalling an unpleasant memory, to detach from past experiences and to let bygones be bygones. In the process of self- observation and changing your attitude, you self-correct, heal wounds and ultimately alter the direction of your future.

Change your dream and your world changes.

Step 4: Gratefulness

What have you been grateful for recently? Practicing grateful living as inspired by the teachings of Br. David Steindl-Rast is a universal practice that fosters personal transformation, cross-cultural understanding, interfaith dialogue, intergenerational respect, non-violent conflict resolution and ecological sustainability. Instead of seeing the worst in everything, start seeing the opportunities. Stop complaining, pointing the finger at others and take an observer‘s perspective. What has this situation taught you? Then be grateful for the lesson learned.

Step 5: Compassion and altruism

When is the last time you helped someone? Research suggests that meaningful social

interaction helps you to reduce stress and enjoy better mental and physical health.

Step 6: Hugs

Our society is deprived of touch, especially single people and the elderly, and it has a detrimental effect on their health. Hugs have healing power, even hugging yourself. Hugs trigger the release of the hormone oxytocin which is known to be important for trust and a sense of wellbeing by reducing fear. A hug a day keeps…

Step 7: Creativity

When was the last time you created something? Knitting, painting, cooking, ironing, doing the dishes or hands on, physical work are all activities with an end result, which help you gain resilience and prevent and treat depression.

In other words the ‘pursuit of happiness’ is in your hands.

For more health and wellness tips, tune in to the feature Health Matters on www.radiox.eu or visit www.tommeyers.be

TomTom Health Navigator

http://www.togethermag.eu/sites/default/pdf/TOGETHER54.pdf

Health Matters continues…

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X from 1 September 2014

I’m Tom Meyers and welcome to Health Matters. In the upcoming weekly new episodes of Health Matters I will share with you my personal experience as an osteopath and stress coach, bring you scientific insights and practical tips about the wondrous existential matters of health and well-being.

Yes, ”Health”, we all seek it, spent lots of money, time and effort running after it and still it seems we are further away from it then ever before. Why?

We go to such lengths that we are prepared to change or replace unhealthy and even healthy body parts without question in our quest for health. We take more pills and supplements then ever before and still ‘health and wellbeing’ eludes us as more people suffer from anxiety, depression, burn-out and cancer. Why?

Especially in our Western society where we have more means to be and stay healthy, gain more knowledge by the day, have more technology to our disposal and were trillions are spent on research annually we tend to get sicker by the day. Why?

We have more resources and time – although you might not think so – to take care of our health. So I ask the questions why and how come that we are making ourselves so sick, depressed, burned-out to the point that some end up taking their own lives?

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Is HEALTH slipping through our fingers?

Health!? What message or lesson is there to be learned that we don’t seem to get, that we are too blind to see, are we too afraid to ask?

Have you ever asked yourself the question, what is health? Truly took time to reflect upon it’s meaning and come up with the key elements needed to give health a change to be?

If not, why not?

In Health Matters I will take you on a journey over the coming weeks and maybe months to shed a light unto the topics of health and wellbeing. A light that my work as an osteopath, stress coach and researcher in body-mind medicine has brought me and that I like to share with you. On this journey, let me be your Health Navigator your Tom Tom for health and wellbeing.

So please join me from mid september onwards every week on Health Matters here on Radio X.

You can also follow Health Matters via Facebook, my blog on WordPress and as a podcast on Mixcloud. Links for all and more you can find on my website www.tommeyers.be

Pressure vs Stress

Pressure

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X from 5 May 2014

I’m Tom Meyers Stress coach and welcome to another episode of Health Matters.

Pressure and stress are words that are often used interchangeably, but what is the difference?

Pressure is the feeling of urgency caused by the necessity of doing or achieving something.

The word pressure is especially used in connection with limited time-frame… like you can be under pressure to achieve a deadline. Pressure can also be a force that others or you put on yourself and that motivates you, makes you achieve your goals, pass exams or helps you to perform better.

We’re hard wired for pressure as it encourages us to continually grow and push our boundaries. Sometimes we also refer to it as positive stress.

However pressure doesn’t always lead to a positive outcome. Some forms of pressure can have the opposite effect then the one desired it can make you unmotivated and weak when you need to be strong, fail your exams or decrease your performance. For example you can feel the negative side of pressure when you unexpectedly, have to give a presentation but you really don’t like speaking in front of an audience. Another example could be you’re asked to perform a certain task but you don’t have the skills or knowledge to do it or just not enough time to do it in.

This type of oppressive pressure,… but also too much unwavering pressure, without the needed recovery time leads to stress.

Stress

Insufficient pressure on the other hand isn’t without consequences either. Lack of pressure or challenges at work can lead to boreout and this isn’t because the person is lazy.

Boreout

Boreout is when there is not enough stimulus in other words not enough pressure and can lead to lack of drive, inability to enjoy life, fatigue and underperformance.

Stress on the other hand, when used to describe a subjective feeling is experienced when the demands put on you outweigh you’re ability to cope with them and is regulated on a biological level by the stress response.

Stress is often described as the ‘fight and flight’ mode, an adaptation response inherited from our prehistoric ancestors that had to protect themselves from physical threats and is associated with among other things the increase of the sympathetic nervous systems and the hormones adrenaline and cortisol.

In other words when it comes to pressure versus stress, pressure is a stressor that can act as a motivator. However, when pressure gets out of hand or isn’t kept under control it leads to stress that in turn becomes harmful for your health.

The ability and scope to cope with pressure are different for everyone and depend on: gender, age, genetics, previous experience, skills, knowledge and the specific situation,…

Ease

Tips to ease pressure:

  • Take more time to relax
  • Follow stress management courses
  • Implement stress management – relaxation exercise
  • Stay positive and keep things in perspective

For more tips pick up your copy of this months Together Magazine or go to their website tomgethermag.eu

I’m Tom Meyers Osteopath and Stress Coach for Body and Mind and contributor of thought to your health and wellbeing.

For more information about my work and presentations on understanding and managing stress, visit the website tommeyers.be

Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X from 28 April 2014

I’m Tom Meyers Stress coach and welcome to this weeks episode of Health Matters.

On the 15th of April The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work launched the campaign ‘Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress’

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As a stress coach and regular speaker in companies about ‘Understanding and Managing Stress’ I didn’t want to let this campaign pass by unnoticed and because I agree with the agencies statement that safety and health at work is everyone’s concern. It’s good for you and It’s good for business.

Work-related stress is – after back and neck pain – the second most frequently reported work-related health problem in Europe – and around half of workers consider work-stress it to be common in their workplace?

50 to 60% of all lost working days can be contributed to work related stress and those absences tend to be longer that those arising from other causes.

The most common causes of work-related stress are job reorganisation or job insecurity, working long hours or excessive workload and being bullied or harassed at work.

Other causes of work-related stress are:

conflicting demands,

ineffective communication,

lack of clarity over roles,

mismatch between job demands and competence,

lack of involvement in decision making,

lack of support, poor interpersonal relationships

and unhealthy work-life balance.

In the European agencies poll also determined that 4 in 10 workers think that stress is not handled well in their workplace.

Total cost to companies and the social security system … hundreds of billions… and that’s a lot of money.

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So how do you recognise that you’re suffering from work-related stress? Well lets look at the symptoms which can be divided in 4 categories:

Emotional changes including anxiety, fatigue and poor relationships with colleagues

Behavioural changes these can be poor timekeeping, carelessness, aggressiveness

Cognitive issues like difficulties in concentration or making decisions, reduced  creativity and productivity.

Physical signs are recurrent neck, back or shoulder pain, frequent colds or spells of flu, stomach or bowel problems and high blood pressure..

And if work-related stress isn’t managed properly it can eventually lead to burn-out and depression.

Although work-related stress is described as – not an individuals fault but an organisational issue – it needs to be tackled from both ends.

If you leave it all for your boss to sort out you might be in for a long wait. In Health Matters I address insights about health and wellbeing and share information what you can do to help yourself to stay healthy and happy.

Unlike what you might expect but happiness and health do not just happen… they are learned skills.

For more information about the Healthy Workplace Manages Stress campaign go to healthy-workplaces.eu

I’m Tom Meyers health coach and contributor of though to a healthier way of living.

If you like to know more about my consultation work and stress management presentations then visit the website tommeyers.be

Health Awareness Week

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X from 31 March 2014

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress Coach and welcome to this weeks episode of Health Matters.

On the 7th of April The World Health Organisation celebrates it’s World Health Day.
This year the WHO will blow out 66 candles and although it has done some great work over the years it faces big new challenges.

Challenges like work related stress that is effecting 1 in 4 employees and is associated with the increase in conditions like back pain, anxiety, depression and burnout.

But what is health? Obvious as it may seem but have you ever asked yourself this question?

On radio x we’re going to do just that. Next week from the 7th till the 11th of April Radio X is organising the Health Awareness Week.

Health Awareness Week Radio X

A week where various therapists will be interviewed or come to the studio to talk about health.

However health is about all of us so we’re hoping to hear from you too. Want to contribute to the Health Awareness Week then keep tuning in to Radio X and also interact with us on our Facebook page and maybe you’ll win one of the various consultations at Osteo & Co in Woluwe, Brussels.

To get you in the mood for the Health Awareness Week lets see how health currently is defined by the World Health organisation.

According to the WHO, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Infirmity meaning physical or mental weakness.

This definition was adopted at the birth of the organisation in 1948 and hasn’t been amended since.

However what I wonder about is – is health a state? A state meaning a particular condition that someone is in at a specific time?

I rather see health as a dynamic process that adapts itself constantly. You are not the same in the morning then in the afternoon or evening. When you’re facing mental or physical challenges health must be balanced in a different way then when you’re lying on the beach.

Health what is it? What does it need? Is the idea you have of what health is, in alignment with what your biology dictates what health is?

All questions that we need to reflect on and that will be addressed in the Health Awareness Week here on Radio X and no I don’t presume that will find the ultimate answers but I sincerely hope it will contribute to reflection and hopefully some aha moments.

We on Radio X will start the dialogue but hope you will carry it on to your family, friends and colleagues as Health Matters today.

I’m Tom Meyers Stress Coach for Body & Mind have a great week and hope to hear from you during the Health Awareness Week.

For more information on my work or if you have a question go to www.tommeyers.be

Recognise and Change

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X  from 03 March 2014

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress Coach and welcome to another episode of Health Matters.

Last week I talked about how important it is to have down-time after working hours and that some big companies are taking action as the cost of sickness due to work-stress is getting out of proportion.

Not surprising as work-related stress is now being considered one of the biggest health challenges in Europe. In Belgium it is estimated that 2 out of 3 employees are affected by it.

The impact of stress on your health, wellbeing and the economy can’t be left ignored anymore with personal suffering, increased sick days and social and economic consequences being very real and present.

However and as I mentioned before it is amazing how little effort it really takes to make the difference. Increased stress level awareness followed by small adaptations to lower the stress response can make the difference between being ailed by stress or living and working with ease.

How to recognise that stress has got you in its grip is an important factor to changing the tide. So lets have a look.

Physical signs: Neck, shoulder or back pain, tension headaches, digestive problems,…

Emotional signs: Negative thoughts, loss of motivation and mood swings.

Mental signs: Confusion, difficulty to concentrate, memory loss

Behavioural changes: Seep disturbance, increased smoking, drinking or medication intake.

Specific work-related stress signs are deteriorating relationships among colleagues, increased staff turnover and numbers of employees being absent due to sickness.

Once you recognize that you’re stressed acknowledge it and respond ,don’t let it drag on.

Here are some tips to help yourself.

Seek professional help when you feel you’re not in control anymore.

Take care of your physical and emotional health by learning and implementing daily health promoting behavior. Don’t postpone taking care of your health till it gets calmer at work or at home. That day might never come when you haven’t got your stress levels under control in the first place.

Take regular breaks and don’t feel guilty about it. To perform well, regular pauses to clear your mind is not a waste of time as it will make you more and not less productive.

Don’t over-commit yourself.

When work or your workload gets out of hand talk it over with a colleague. Sharing or connecting with others has proven to be a great way to reduce the pressure.

Make sure you take enough time to unwind when the work day is over or at the weekend. Have a look at your diary is there still room for you?

With ever changing demands, more to do and less time to do it in…. reflection on how to stay healthy and health promoting behavior isn’t a luxury and must be seen as a personal and social priority.

On tommeyers.be you can download a free copy of ‘Reaset: The return of Ease’ with information, exercises and free audio to breathe your stress away and help you to drift into ease.

I’m Tom meyers, Osteopath DO, Stress Coach for Body and Mind, Public Speaker and contributor of thought to a healthier way of living and working.

There are after working hours…

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X  from 24 February 2014

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress Coach and welcome to another episode of Health Matters.

This week I like to talk to you about that special time after work. That time that is supposed to be free time, time to rest, relax, recuperate your mind and body and escape from work.

A combination of events has made that that this free-time has become a luxury – not often seen by many employees – while it is supposed to be the norm. It started with employers handed out laptops, tablet and smart phones as a so to speak bonus but the other side of the coin was that employees could be called upon 24/7 and so be more productive…

…and then there was the recession with many redundancies leading to less employees to the same amount of work and employees feeling the sword of Damocles above there heads as maybe they were or are the next on the chopping block…  creating anxiety induced compulsive behaviour and staying longer at work to show commitment and in many cases that extra time is needed as they are working for 2 or more.

… and if not at work to work extra hours at home during the week, weekends… holidays

Recognise it?

I remember a story a friend told me once. He didn’t want to follow this path. He wasn’t going to stay at work to show the bosses in this way that he was committed. His bosses and colleagues rebuked him for his so called anti-social behaviour. His comment I can do my job in the time that is foreseen and it shows I’m very good in what I do. Believe it or not his contract wasn’t prolonged because he ‘didn’t fit in’…

This is the state of our working environment.

The cost of the 24/7 working environment, of the information overload man has created is 1 trillion dollars in America alone. Yes a 1 with 12 zero’s behind it.

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And lets not forget the human suffering this overloaded and perverted works society has created like the 60 suicides at France Telecom between 2008 and 2011.**

It’s a hard wake-up call to reality but companies are waking up. Like at Volkswagen where some employees email is turned off 30 minutes after their shifts end and BMW who are planning to make agreements with employees to stipulate the times where they can’t be contacted.*

I sincerely hope it is the start of a global change in attitude and behaviour in the work environment from employers to stake holders but also from employees themselves.

We need to stop and start to make sense again.

Our way of living has been destroying nature with climate changes as a result… and still we didn’t listen.. now … with the way we are living we are destroying ourselves…

The time to take Health Matters to heart can’t be postponed till tomorrow. You are the one that makes the difference. You are the future. You control how your future looks like and don’t let anyone tell you different.

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress Coach for Body and Mind and contributor of thought to a healthier and brighter future.

Don’t want to miss the weekly episodes of Health Matters then subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or google’s Feedburner the links you can find on the website tommeyers.be

* http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/employers-step-in-to-prevent-worker-burnout-at-volkswagen-goldman-sachs-bmw/story-e6frfm9r-1226774626115

** http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/unternehmen/selbstmordserie-france-telecom-mitarbeiter-verbrennt-sich-selbst-a-759124.html