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

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

Tenets of Health

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X from 15 December 2014

I’m Tom Meyers and welcome to the last regular episode of Health Matters for this year.

In the last 14 episodes I‘ve taken you an a journey to find answers to the question: What is health?

We all seek health but are we ready to take up our responsibility to give it at least a chance to express itself? Are we willing to look into our own bosom and act today rather than wait till someone else does it for us as I can tell you with certainty that day will never come…

health-is-wealth

As soon as we are born we know one thing for sure the body will die. However from that moment of birth until your last day, your body – by nature – is genetically programmed towards health which in other words means that it strives for unity or wholeness through creating a physiological dynamic equilibrium.

That dynamic equilibrium however is being challenged more than ever before through our changing environment that leads us astray from nature towards an artificial unsustainable IT dominated culture that is in conflict with our biological system that hasn’t changed since prehistory.

However health and our current technological environment don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Both systems have laws that govern them and what we need to find is the right milieu where both support each other and not work against each other as is the case now.

As the IT world doesn’t stop expanding and renewing itself it isn’t there that we need to start our quest for change or reflection on health matters. Health on the other hand is being halted even though we have more means to our disposition to stay and be healthy we do get sicker by the day not only individually bot also as a society.

So why not add to your list of new years resolutions the intention to reflect upon the essence of health and to implement health behaviour?

To get you started here are a few tenants you might like focus on:

  • Health is in my hands it is my responsibility.
  • I’ll be mindful of what I think and say as thoughts alter my biology.
  • What I eat I become.
  • I will remember that what I send out comes back, what I saw, I reap, what I give I get, what I see in others exists in me.
  • I am human, not super human.
  • I will find out and never again ignore what my heart beats for.
  • Unless you start caring about myself no one will.
  • Don’t live another ones dream live your own there is room for all.
  • Have less be more.
  • Know that you are awesome

Well, that’s it from me this year I hope I’ve been able to inspire you with the information shared here in Health Matters on Radio X. The English commercial radio station that has a heart for you.

Rest me to say may love and light accompany you during the holiday season and be good to you always.

TomTom Health Navigator

Happy-Holidays

When you like more information about my presentations or consultations or when you just want to get in touch, then visit the website www.tommeyers.be

A pain in the neck

Together Magazine 52

Article by Tom Meyers published in Together Magazine 52, October 2014

According to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, musculoskeletal pain in the neck, shoulder and back is the most common work- related health problem.

Its increasing prevalence in modern society is concerning, and when left unresolved it contributes to distress at home, loss of productivity and increased absence at work.

Working as an osteopath and Stress-Coach for Body and Mind, most of my patients make an appointment for relief from musculoskeletal pain. When asked about the cause of their discomfort, I mostly hear patients say it is related to working in an office all day: my chair at work isn’t the best, I’m not sitting straight, my computer screen isn’t at the right height, I’ve been working with the computer mouse a lot – in other words, patients most often put the blame for their discomfort on ergonomic or postural issues.

And, yes, prolonged static postures or repetitive movements can lead to muscular chronic tension and eventually pain.

This biomechanical link has been researched extensively, and, although it seems logical, it will

probably surprise you to know that scientific studies show that ergonomics aren’t the main problem. There is in fact only limited evidence for a causal relationship between computer work, computer mouse and keyboard time and neck, shoulder and musculoskeletal pain.

In other words the desk, the mouse, the posture are contributors. However, they aren’t the main cause of your pain.

So what is?

It turns out the biggest contributors to musculoskeletal pain are psychosocial factors, mainly job stress as we try to cope with a heavy workload, deadlines, information overload and reorganization.

On a behavioral level these psychosocial factors prompt you to work longer hours, increase your pace at work and make you take fewer breaks, to give but a few examples.

On a physiological level these factors contribute to triggering the stress response which increases heart rate, blood pressure, cortisol and adrenaline levels and heightens muscular tension.

Chronic stress in turn leads to mood swings, anxiety and depression, and these change your posture and so contribute to musculoskeletal problems.

This combination of biological and psychosocial factors means that we must observe musculoskeletal pain from a ‘biopsychosocial’ perspective.

So the next time you have musculoskeletal pain:

  • Take a moment to reflect what has been happening in your life or at work lately.
  • What are the changes that have taken place and got you all tied-up?
  • How much stress have you experienced lately and what have you done to relax?
  • Are you still carrying the weight on your shoulders of issues from long ago?
  • Have you taken too much on your plate lately?

Take time to understand the true cause of your pain, unwind and be mindful of your beliefs and how others affect you. If pain persists then consider professional help.

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

Is the sound of your phone making you sick?

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X from 19 May 2014

I’m Tom Meyers Stress Coach and welcome to another episode of Health Matters. Where take a closer look at the S word that has become one of the biggest challenges in our modern day society: Stress.

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Don’t laugh but today I would like to talk about the ringtone of your mobile phone and the possible stress evoking effect it can have on your body.

Please hear me out and tell me afterwards if my logic has any ground for consideration and change of behaviour.

Imagine you’re sitting in a quite place and the phone of the person next to you goes off. When it is a gentle ringing tone you probably don’t flinch. However more and more people seem to have a hearing problem or are so anxious that they won’t hear their phone go off that they have it ringing at full volume.

I think you get the picture and the effect of that sudden loud noise is you tense up, go instantly into a hyper-vigilant state of alert mode with muscles contracting until you realise it’s a phone going off… however your heart that has started racing takes a bit longer to calm down.

ALARM

Another element that has to be mentioned here is that some people instead of a gentle alerting ringing tone install a ringing tone that sounds like a fire alarm going off… call me what you like but WHAT? Think about it for a minute.  For generations now the sound of an alarm is associated with DANGER… a sign that you must protect yourself… run to survive, get away…

Each time I notice how my body reacts to these unexpected sounds… yes, with the same stress response as I would have in case of a real emergency.

A stress response that in these cases are completely unnecessary.

Cognitively I know it is a phone ringing… but my body isn’t as tuned in to all the new technological gadgets and it reacts with a survival response for no good reason at al.

Ok you have such a ringing tone on your mobile don’t think you’re spared from the same reaction and consequences…

If your stress levels are under control, managed well, then there isn’t a problem.

The point I like to make is that when stress levels aren’t under control these small seemingly insignificant stressors add up and contribute to chronic stress which in turn leads to dis-ease.

What I personally do is as soon as I’m aware I’ve tensed up I practice the Reaset breathing exercise until I feel my body and heart rate are somewhat back to normal again.

All that said the mobile phone is not the only gadget that has a sound to attract your attention… your alarm clock in the morning is another… How do you wake up? To the sound of the birds singing, a classical tune or a menacing horn.

Within a world were coming to rest in body and mind has become something of an oddity and stress the rule the result is well… dis-ease.

The positive note is you can change, tweak your life, your thoughts, your outlook, events, situations that health doesn’t become an endangered species but becomes you, the fruit of your efforts.

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

Would you like to know more about my work or Understanding & Managing Stress presentations then go to tommeyers.be

Health Matters Today

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X from 12 May 2014

Want to listen to this feature then visit: Health Matters on Radio X or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or RSS feed.

Take Time Out and Reaset Yourself

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

Today I like to talk postponing health promoting behaviour.

I often see it in people who have to much on their mind – with deadlines at work, family obligations, kids to take care of – and are hoping and waiting till it gets a bit calmer to then take time to take care of their health.

However that calmer day never seems to come, the day that there is less to do, that all troubles are solved and that we have more time… and so the inevitable happens.

We’re living in a society where the current challenge isn’t over yet or the next is already there and thus time for health, well never presents itself.

Think about it when you recognise this behaviour in yourself. Think about it for just a second. What will the outcome be eventually?

Yes you’ll probably fall ill or create a ground for chronic disease or cancer that manifest themselves years later.

Taking care of your health can’t be postponed as everything else depends on it and I don’t know anybody that doesn’t see good health as one of there top wants in life. However few will act accordingly and really take care of their health.

The reason for our ignorance is probably that we don’t feel it that we’ve upset our health until it is too late. Our mind usually knows and tells us in the form of an internal twitter message ‘hey ho you know if you continue like this you’re going to get ill’ but there is no physical sensation backing it up and that tells us that something is not ok and thus we continue and override the twitter message.

My view however is that we probably do get a physical sign with that twitter message but we are so astrayed from our physical sensations that we aren’t aware of it.

The bottom line is that we’re forgetting that we are biological beings with a body that has very different needs and limits than our mind.

The very down to earth observation I usually bring up is I can’t see my thoughts but I can see my body that means they are two very different frequencies with their own spectrum of possibilities. Or in other words in my mind I can run several marathons one after the other and win them all in an instant but my body can’t it can’t even complete 1 marathon.

Being more mindful of the body can it be learned? Yes… Mindfulness and yoga are typical practices that are training you to do just that. However these aren’t always the best to start with as they take time and aren’t they also a form of postponing behaviour? Haven’t got time to do my exercises now but this evening I’ll rush off to my yoga lesson.

Breathing exercises on the other hand are always to your disposition and are the most effective way to calm body and mind.

Go to my website and download the FREE eBook ‘Reaset: The return to ease’ which has all the info you need to make breathing for health a ongoing dynamic process in your life.

Take time before time passes you by.

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

 

What is Health?

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X from 7 April 2014

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

Health Awareness Week Radio X

Today is World Health Day and the start of the Health Awareness Week here on Radio X. A week were the question ‘What is Health?’ will be discussed, reflected upon and given the attention it deserves.

Last week I shared with you the definition of health and reflected on the element if health is a state or a process.

Today lets look at the origin of the word health. Health comes from the Germanic word heil meaning being whole or wholeness.

Now lets use this wholeness reference to our question ‘what is health?’ as you could reframe it to What does it mean to be whole?

Mm sound even more difficult to answer then what is health well think again. Go back into memory lane and think of that day where everything flowed, where you felt one with yourself and the environment, even the Universe itself.

You remember that day? Yes that day, the day where all your senses seemed more in tune and that you could handle anything that was put in front of you.

That day, you – felt ‘whole’. You see that was easier then you thought at first wasn’t it?

But what was it that made you feel that way? Have you ever taken the time to reflect what the elements where that made that moment so special?

If not then I  really recommend you to take some time to reflect on this as you might find some amazing truths about yourself. And those truths leading to knowing and being mindful of yourself are great contributors to living your wholeness and that in turn has a positive effect on your health.

When you put that knowledge to good use I can assure you it will put into motion a great health promoting dynamic process.  And I say this from personal experience.

And yes it takes time and with our never ending to do lists it seems impossible to take that time-out but then that never ending to do list makes you ill and taking time-out makes you healthy… mmm yes eeuh… What? It’s your choice. It’s part of that human trait you call free-will that makes you responsible to do or do not.

Anyway I hope you continue listening to the various contributions on ‘What is Health’ during the Health Awareness Week. Interact with us on Facebook or email. Tell us your interpretation of health and continue the conversation with your family friends and colleagues.

And get your copy of the April edition of Together Magazine where you can read this weeks Health Matters feature (p.34-37) and lots more contributions on health and wellbeing. Don’t find a copy then go to their website  togethermag.eu

Together Magazine 47

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

Ageing with Ease

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X  from 20 January 2013

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress Coach and welcome to another episode 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 like to talk about ageing. Have you hear or read about research done by Doctor Rudi Westendorp from the University of Leiden as regards to our life-expectancy?

In brief Dr Westendorp says that biologically we’re programmed to become 50 years old but children that are born today will probably become 100. Yes 100… doubling what we are biologically programmed for. Interesting to know is that in 1914 the average age of British men was 50 and women 54. That’s a huge increase in life expectancy in a very VERY short time… and probably never seen before in our history.

Today a life expectancy of 80 or 90 is already considered normal. However how are going to experiencing these extra years? In health or sickness? Will we age gracefully?

I don’t think it will come as a surprises to you but all that depends on your health behaviour of today. Keeping those stress levels balanced out is one major factor for staying healthy in later life.

Knowing what you want is another. Many people fall into a black whole when they retire… according to Dr Westendorp we don’t seem to know what to do with the extra time that is given to us.

To live longer should be a present and we should accept that getting older comes with a wrinkle … or two. Also it is not because you’re having your 65 plus card that you suddenly should stop using that stair in the metro or your bike to get around for short distances no you need keep moving.

Keeping up a good social life is also critical. Who lives alone will get ill more quickly and dies faster. Statistics show that being alone is far more deadly than smoking… still… smoking should be avoided as it will reduce your quality of later life and reduce your life expectancy significantly too.

To come back to element of stress. How does stress reduce your life expectancy? Well it will increase the wear and tear on your heart and vascular system for one but also and what is less known it will effect your DNA. Stress has an influence on the length of your telemores which is a protective hood that sits at the end of your chromosomes. Stress increases the speed of degeneration of these telomeres and reduced telomeres length is associate with disease and decrease in life expectancy.

It is not only stress that has an influence on telomere length also lifestyle factors, like smoking, and malnutrition

However the good news is that health promoting behaviour like breathing exercises, meditation, a balanced diet, social support and exercise have proven to reverse telomere loss and even increase it size again.

There another good reason for taking good care of your body as Health Matters today and can’t be postponed till tomorrow.

On that note I’m Tom Meyers stress coach for body and mind and contributor of thought to a healthier and more joyful way of living.

For more information on Health Matters visit my website tommeyers.be

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X  from 20 January 2013

Want to listen to this feature then visit: Health Matters on Radio X

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress Coach and welcome to another episode 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 like to talk about ageing. Have you hear or read about research done by Doctor Rudi Westendorp from the University of Leiden as regards to our life-expectancy?

In brief Dr Westendorp says that biologically we’re programmed to become 50 years old but children that are born today will probably become 100. Yes 100… doubling what we are biologically programmed for. Interesting to know is that in 1914 the average age of British men was 50 and women 54. That’s a huge increase in life expectancy in a very VERY short time… and probably never seen before in our history.

Today a life expectancy of 80 or 90 is already considered normal. However how are going to experiencing these extra years? In health or sickness? Will we age gracefully?

I don’t think it will come as a surprises to you but all that depends on your health behaviour of today. Keeping those stress levels balanced out is one major factor for staying healthy in later life.

Knowing what you want is another. Many people fall into a black whole when they retire… according to Dr Westendorp we don’t seem to know what to do with the extra time that is given to us.

To live longer should be a present and we should accept that getting older comes with a wrinkle … or two. Also it is not because you’re having your 65 plus card that you suddenly should stop using that stair in the metro or your bike to get around for short distances no you need keep moving.

Keeping up a good social life is also critical. Who lives alone will get ill more quickly and dies faster. Statistics show that being alone is far more deadly than smoking… still… smoking should be avoided as it will reduce your quality of later life and reduce your life expectancy significantly too.

To come back to element of stress. How does stress reduce your life expectancy? Well it will increase the wear and tear on your heart and vascular system for one but also and what is less known it will effect your DNA. Stress has an influence on the length of your telemores which is a protective hood that sits at the end of your chromosomes. Stress increases the speed of degeneration of these telomeres and reduced telomeres length is associate with disease and decrease in life expectancy.

It is not only stress that has an influence on telomere length also lifestyle factors, like smoking, and malnutrition

However the good news is that health promoting behaviour like breathing exercises, meditation, a balanced diet, social support and exercise have proven to reverse telomere loss and even increase it size again.

There another good reason for taking good care of your body as Health Matters today and can’t be postponed till tomorrow.

On that note I’m Tom Meyers stress coach for body and mind and contributor of thought to a healthier and more joyful way of living.

For more information on Health Matters visit my website tommeyers.be

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