Stress: the health epidemic of the 21st century

Article Published in Executive Secretary Magazine: 25 May 2017

Tomorrow belongs to those that hear it coming – David Bowie 

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 respondents) said it would increase and 47% answered that it would increase a lot.

We are now in 2017, 5 years on and the number of people suffering from job-related stress did indeed increase. It is estimated that the cost to European businesses and social security systems adds up to €600 billion a year. With this figure in mind, it should come as no surprise that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has dubbed stress the health epidemic of the 21st century.

In my article “Stress: A conflict between biology and culture” (published in the January edition of Executive Secretary Magazine), I offered an evolutionary perspective on why stress has become such a nuisance to our health and wellbeing.

In brief, I explained that since we’ve been able to manipulate fire we’ve started to change our environment, to make life easier. The agricultural, industrial and technological revolutions followed on from each other with increasing speed, radically changing within an extremely short time every aspect of how we live and work.

Yes, modernisation and the rise in technological and economic progress has made life easier and has increased life expectancy. However, the unexpected drawback of this progress, especially over the last 10-15 years, is its detrimental effect on our health and wellbeing. Technological and economic progress has encouraged the rise of unhealthy lifestyles and increased stress levels, which in turn have contributed to the spread of chronic degenerative diseases and mental disorders: coronary heart disease, cancer, strokes, type 2 diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, stress, depression, dementia, burnout…

Another unexpected drawback is the impact on the size of our brains. Contrary to what you might have heard, our brain has shrunk over the past 20,000 years. John Hawks, 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.” (Discover Magazine)

On top of the gradual effects of modernisation on our brain size, chronic stress and anxiety will, if not attended to, shrink your brain further and far more rapidly than you might imagine, with huge ramifications: increased anxiety and memory loss, to name but a few. (Ensell, et al. 2012).

But what about tomorrow? To quote David Bowie: “Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it” So what will tomorrow bring? Will the number of people suffering from work stress increase, decrease or stay the same? Statistics for this aren’t available yet but what do you think? I think it will increase and I’m very concerned about this. I’m concerned because I’m starting to see the effects of this fourth industrial revolution, as it is called, in some of my patients already.

The way we live and work has changed exponentially over the last 10 years, but this is nothing compared to what is to come, when ever more tasks, and even whole jobs are outsourced to robots and intelligent appliances. What was once science fiction will become science fact and less and less will be impossible.

Did you know that according to an Oxford study, around 50% of all jobs could be replaced by robots in the next 20 years?  According to that study, there is an 86% likelihood that administrative professionals, including assistants, will be replaced by robots or AI. That said, even if not replaced, the work of assistants surely will change significantly over the next 5-10 years, as more and more tasks are automated. Indeed, everything that is routine in a job will be automated, according to futurist Gerd Leonhard.

From an economic and evolutionary perspective, this increased automation is very logical, but it also offers a solution to one of the biggest work-related health problems: stress. Work-related stress is experienced when the demand on an employee is greater than their resources. At first sight, then, the reasoning that automating more will reduce those demands seems sound.

However, will it actually reduce stress levels? I don’t think so. Rather, I envisage the appearance of a new form of stress: spiritual stress, referred to in medical terms as existential anxiety. It’s already here if the new questions and health problems my patients come to my practice with are any indicator (body-mind disconnection, feelings of hopelessness and numbness).

While until recently our modern lifestyle affected people essentially on a physical and mental level, the fourth industrial revolution, with the rise of artificially intelligent devices, will cause problems of a more existential nature as the very foundations of life and its meaning are called into question. Personal fulfilment and meaning are essential human drives, and for the moment the main contributor of meaning for many people lies in their job. When work falls away or becomes menial, what then?

Not only is there the question of meaning and fulfilment, but that more comfortable lifestyle will have an adverse effect on our health, wellbeing… and brain size! There is thus a very real risk that automation will only increase our current problems.

Automation cannot be stopped; robots and artificial intelligence are here to stay and that is the way it is. However, we must to start thinking and finding ways to stay healthy in body, mind and spirit in this more automated world.

In the article ‘Will robots replace assistants?’ (published in the January edition of Executive Secretary Magazine) Craig Allen proposed that it is important for assistants to invest in training and acquire new skills to assure their future in a changing world.  In the article “Will life be worth living in a world without work? Technological unemployment and the meaning of Life”, Dr. John Danaher argues that adopting an integrative approach to our relationship with technology is a possible option. This is the option where technology is directly integrated into biological systems and we become cyborgs.

This view is in complete opposition to the thoughts of futurist Gerd Leonhard, who explains in his book “Technology vs. Humanity” that we need to focus on what cannot be automated, going beyond technology and data. For him, the new way to work is to embrace technology but not to become it.

So, how do you prepare for what is emerging? Stay informed about the changes in your workplace, start the dialogue with your colleagues and prepare. Prepare yourself by finding out what the non-routine parts are or what cannot be digitalised in your job. Those parts will become the most valuable in the future. Also start doing things you find meaningful, that give you energy and fulfilment outside your work. Start with these today and you’ll be ahead of the game, becoming more resilient in changing times.

References:

Tom Meyers is an osteopath D.O., stress coach and visionary in the field of health and wellbeing. He runs a private health practice in Brussels and 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 book ‘Futurize Yourself’ in which he interlaces soul-purpose, personal development, health and healing into a compelling guide to thrive. If you want to know more about Tom, or invite him to your own event, take a look at his 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.

The Pursuit of Happiness

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 12.02.25

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?

images

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

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

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.

us-1-trillion-dollars

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

Move it… but low impact.

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X  from 13 January 2013

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress Coach and welcome to a new season of Health Matters.  In Health Matters I take a closer look at the S word that has become one of the biggest challenges to our health and wellbeing Stress.

This week I’m going to get you moving.

That exercise relieves stress probably doesn’t come as  a surprise to you but did you know that the long-term effects of daily exercise can be a powerful antidepressant more effective than any antidepressant drugs on the market?

The question you will ask off-course is how much exercise and what type? Well that depends on you? Are you a sportive person or not? How long have you been inactive? Too much too quick and you’ll become discouraged because you can’t keep it up or get injuries. So set yourself a realistic goal.

As time goes, it is better 5 minutes now and then then a 1h work-out if stress relieve is what you seek. This can be a walk around the block, cycling to work or to the shop. It doesn’t have to be sport? It is about moving. Taking the time to stretch those legs and move those arms.

Gardening, walking the dog, playing with your children, taking an elderly person for a walk a couple of times a week can all be seen as exercise, even cleaning if it is done with a certain vigour and heart.

The mistake many people make is to sit all day in the office stressing out but then to compensate go for a good hard run in the evening? The purpose of exercise is to relax, to lower the sympathetic tone of your autonomic nervous system and increase the relaxation response.

Stress heightens your heart rate, blood pressure, breath rate with all the adverse effects that has and that I’ve talked about before on Health Matters. So imagine that when your heart rate and blood pressure has been high all day and you on top of that go and strain your body more with a good challenging run… you’re putting the pressure on even more… that can be a recipe for a heart attack or stroke… and unfortunately it is more common then you think.

Oh you don’t like exercise, you think it’s boring then the solution can be to make a mind shift and see it as transport from A to B and walk and cycle as much as you can to go to the shop, work or for any reason you need to get around. Leave that car behind if you have to get somewhere within a radius of say less then 5 km away. Get a decent backpack with waist strap that can hold some groceries and a few 1.5l bottles or something that you think you’ll need to make that exercise – shopping or trip to work practical and more enjoyable.

So in short regular 5 minutes of low intensity exercise decreases stress. Best is what scientist call green exercise meaning exercise that takes you outdoors.

  • Short sessions are better then 1 long one
  • Take the time as time doesn’t come to you.
  • Find something that gets you moving that you know you enjoy.

The benefits over time are improved heart rate variability, lower heart rate and blood pressure, increase in willpower and resilience. In general improved health and wellbeing.

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress coach for body & mind and contributor of thought more joyful and healthy way of living. For more information on Health Matters go to the website tommeyers.be

Life Change Units

Transcript of the Feature Health Matters on Radio X  from 18 November 2013

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress Coach and welcome to episode 10 of Health Matters.  Where I take a closer look at the S word that has become one of the biggest challenges to our health and wellbeing Stress.

Today I like to share with you how ‘life changes and events’ influences your health. Did you know that positive and negative life changes and events can make you more susceptible to illness and accidents?

To that conclusion came psychologists Rahe and Holmes after a thorough study in the 1960. This research lead  to the Life change units scale.

When I learned about its existence in a psychology class it was a true aha moment.

Several patients had come to my practice with non trauma related neck, shoulder or back pain. Most of them said: “they’ve just woken up with it”.

What was so particular that many of these patients had only been living in Brussels 3 tot 4 months.

As I observed this pattern I started to ask patients when they had moved to Brussels and bingo each time close to 3 to 4 months. But what was the relationship with the physical condition of being physically stuck?

The Life Change Units scale gave me the insight.

So what changes have you gone through when you decided to go for that job opportunity in Belgium and thus decide to move here. For months you have prepared it, made possibly a few trips for job interviews and to find an apartment. Maybe you’ve been commuting leaving your family and kids behind before finally bringing them over. Now settled leaving family and friends behind you need to look for a new social network and adapt to a new language. Work is new, and you need to get to know the colleagues. You probably got a salary increase and more responsibility. I think you get the picture as you’ve probably been there.

How did you experience this period? As stressful?

What Holmes and Rahe have done is to give a score to all these life changes. They calculated that if you have more then 300 points on the Life Change Units scale the risk of illness or injury is increased by 70% In above example when scored you have more then 300 points in a couple of months.

The bottom line is that change activates the stress response and and that makes you tense. Chronic muscle tension can cause pressure on nerves and can even pul bony structures out of alignment. Auch that hurts and help is needed.

The stress response doesn’t only have an influence on muscles it also weakens your immunity so some people get severe colds or flue others stomach upsets or become anxious or suffer from depression. Marital problems are also possible or accidents, bad falls through reduced attention or concentration …

Change is sometimes inevitable. However slow down and take enough time to relax, relieve and restore to give your body the needed rest. Get a professional massage or other forms of body-work like stress coaching for body and mind and practice a mindful breathing exercise.

On the Health Matters section the website radiox.eu I’ll put a link to the Life Change Units Scale and you can see how much at risk you are. And if you have more then 300 points over the last years or worse the last 6 months maybe you like to consider an appointment for some Stress Coaching for Body and Mind for more information visit tommeyers.be

I’m Tom Meyers stress coach and contributor of thought to a more joyful and healthy way of living.

Your body needs you

The effect(s) of stress (muscular tension, digestive problems, low immunity, depression,…) is the result of the body’s exposure to the stress response (fight, flight, freeze) which in term is triggered following the brains interpretation of a stressor(s) (trauma, worrying, work overload,…).

The effect(s) of stress is in correlation to i.a. the length of exposure, one’s personal coping mechanism and the state of stress at the moment.

The stress response is a series of involuntary neuro-hormonal (adrenaline, cortisol, vagal tone,…) changes that have an impact on the heart, bronchi, vascular system, organs, muscles, immunity system, cognition and behaviour to help us to survive.

When the stressor has ceased the body needs time to reset itself to its allostatic balance – a state where it can react according to the need. The recovery – unlike what we might think – is a long, slow process as it is part of our biology adapted to what life was like thousands of years ago and which hasn’t gone to any major changes since Pleistocene times.

“The rate of cultural change since the evolution of the Homo Sapiens is astonishing, but in the face of that rate of change, there has been no sufficient time for many new and successful genetic adaptations to occur.”

“Every day we play out behaviours that have been part of the human experience for a very long time. Yet these behaviours are played out in an arena that is far from removed from that in which they evolved…. creating conflict between our evolved psychological predispositions and the dictates of modern culture.”

When culture and biology collide by E.O. Smith

Reaset: The return of Ease” is a self-healing modality that facilitates and acts as a catalyst (speeds-up) the recovery of the neuro-hormonal system to an allostatic balance. By practicing this on a regular basis you’re helping your biology to reset itself more efficiently and thus thus reduce the effects of stress.

Reaset Body-Coaching” as a therapy goes one step further, it offers a helping hand to the neuro-hormonal, musculo-skeletal, organ and biofield systems to return to ease (allostatic balance). Reaset Body-Coaching also offers information how you can further help yourself.

Author: Tom Meyers

Your body needs you.

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