Corporate Health Toronto: How to Effectively Manage Stress to Improve Productivity

Did you know? Stress related illnesses including anxiety and depression are now at an all-time high in Canada? In fact, anxiety, depression and burnout are the fastest growing disability claim in Canada!

Stress management is imperative to long term health, happiness and productivity at the workplace. I often speak to “The 4 R’s of Stress Management” as an effective way to lead a more balanced and healthy life.

The 4 R’s of Stress Management:

  1. Rhythm: Re-establish nature’s rhythm, get up at a decent hour, eat 3 meals a day, and go to bed before 11pm. Connect with nature on a regular basis.

This includes practicing good sleep hygiene:

Do not eat 2 hours before bedtime, sleep in a very dark and quiet room, do not look at TV screens or computer screens 1 hour before bed and dim the lights in the house (around 10 pm).

  1. Relaxation: Make a habit of relaxing every day! Use meal times as a chance to relax and practice mindful eating. Remember eating should be a sensual experience: smell the food, see the food, taste the food. This will allow you to make better food choices as you become aware of the nutrients and nourishment you are feeding your body.

Meditation can be a great way to relax! Remember that meditation does not have to be a seated, cross legged activity. Meditation can be done while walking, running or commuting.  It’s about turning off the “to do list” and taking in your surroundings.  Great guided meditations can be found on YouTube or iTunes and downloaded to your smart phone.

  1. Replenishment: Make healthy food choices high in antioxidants to replenish your body with proper vitamins and minerals, enabling the body to carry out its daily activities effectively.

Consider engaging in a creative outlet-music art or play, something that will excite you about life! Remember pessimism can facilitate disease, if we become disillusioned and bored with life, so will our cells. Pick a new hobby, join a group that interests you, and find something to be passionate about other than work!

  1. Rehydration: 8 glasses of water a day, including 1 glass of water upon waking**. Can add lemon, cucumber, mint etc. to flavor. Avoid juices (unless freshly juiced) as the pasteurization process leaves them devoid of nutrients and high in sugars.

**Remember the first thing you put into your body in the morning should not be caffeine! This can raise your cortisol levels further increasing your stress hormones.  Break-your-fast with water and a nutritious breakfast containing protein.

How much stress management are you incorporating in your life? Try to incorporate more of the above into your daily activities and notice the impact it can create on your well-being!

Carpe Diem,

Dr. Emily Lipinski, ND

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Simple Solutions for Lowering Blood Pressure

Elevated blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is due a number of factors that can disrupt arterial pressure and fluid volume (i.e. vascular, blood vessels, hormonal, renal or neurologic).

The table below shows the American Heart Association’s blood pressure categorization thresholds:

blood-pressure-chart

Essentially hypertension exists because of narrowing of the arteries, resulting in an increased blood pressured.  High blood pressure is no laughing matter!!

According to the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure, cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk doubles for each increment of 20 mm Hg systolic and 10 mm Hg diastolic above 115/75 mm Hg!!!  These findings are even more concerning when almost 50% of adults worldwide have higher than normal blood pressure (prehypertension).  That is a large portion of the population under risk of heart attack or stroke.

Although genetic factors have a role to play, DIET and LIFESTYLE are often the major underlying causes of high blood pressure!  This is good news!

80% of patients with hypertension can be brought under control with diet and lifestyle modifications!!

Listed below are ways that you can help control and lower your blood pressure to keep your heart healthy!

Lifestyle/Relaxation Techniques

Stress can be a major factor in high blood pressure. Stress causes stimulation of the nervous system, releasing hormones can cause blood pressure to tighten, and in turn, raising blood pressure.  Techniques such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation have been shown to have value in blood pressure lowering.

 

Exercise

Clinical trials in hypertensive patients that do regular exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment! Even Mild to Moderate aerobic exercise such as power walking, moderate biking or jogging, three times a week for 20 minutes or more produces an anti-hypotensive effect.  

Diet

When addressing both diet and lifestyle it is so important to achieve and maintain normal body weight! OBESITY IS A MAJOR CAUSE OF HYPERTENSION. The New Year is always a good time to re-set and create a new health plan. Maintaining a healthy body weight not only reduces blood pressure, but also reduces the chance of other diseases such as cancer.

Interestingly enough, vegetarians generally have much lower blood pressure, a lower incidence of hypertension AND a decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases compared to non-vegetarians. This is not to say that I am suggesting everyone adopt a vegetarian diet. But, it is important to look at WHY vegetarians have such healthy hearts….they do not consume conventional fatty animal products! AND, they may have higher consumption of vegetables (containing antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients) compared to the rest of the population.  Food for thought… J

3 vegetables in particular have been shown to benefit blood pressure:

  1. Celery
  2. Garlic
  3. Onions.

Celery contains 3-n-butyl phthalide, a compound that has been shown to lower blood pressure. In one study, 4 stalks of celery a day was shown to reduce blood pressure. Garlic and Onions have also shown to be of benefit due to their allicin content.

The DASH Diet:  Is a well-known diet to help lower blood pressure.  The diet is most effective when combined with sodium (salt) restriction and an increased potassium intake. For more information about the DASH Diet, please visit: http://www.dashforhealth.com/

Supplementation

There are numerous evidence based herbs and supplements that have been shown to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and may also decrease CVD risk. It is important to work with a health care professional when using supplements as some may interact with your medications.

Do you need help with planning a healthy diet or making positive healthy lifestyle changes? Visiting a Naturopathic Doctor is a great place to start! Naturopathic Doctors are specialists in nutrition, diet, supplementation and lifestyle!

 

Sources

1.Pizzorno J., and Murray M. Textbook of Natural Medicine: 3rded, vol 2, Elsevier, 2006 Missouri.

  1. American Heart Association. Understanding Blood Pressure Readings. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/AboutHighBloodPressure/Understanding-Blood-Pressure-Readings_UCM_301764_Article.jsp Accessed 11/18/2015.

3.Chobanian AV, Bakris GL, Black HR, et al. Seventh report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. Hypertension. Dec 2003;42(6):1206-1252

4..Prousky, Jonathan, ND. “Hypercholesteremia” In: Principles & Practices of Naturopathic Clinical Nutrition.

Pp68-74, 2008 CCNM Press: Toronto

  1. Blumenthal JA, Sherwood A, Schein MH, et al. Breathing control lowers blood pressure. J Consult ClinPsychol 2002;70:569-589.
  2. Arakawa K. Exercise, a measure to lower blood pressure and reduce other risks ClinExpHypertens 1999;21:797-803
  3. Lesniak KT, Dubbert PM. Exercise and Hypertension. CurrOpinCardiol 2001;16:356-359.
  4. Moreira WD, Fuchs FD, Ribeiro JP, Appel LJ. The effects of two aerobic training intensities on ambulatory blood pressure in hypertensive patients: results of a randomized trial. J ClinEpidemiol 1999;52:637-642.
  5. Rouse IL, Beilin LJ, Mahoney DP et al. Vegetarian Diet and blood pressure. Lancet 1983;2:742-743

10.Tsi D, Tan BKH. Cardiovascular pharmacology of 3-n-butylphthalide in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Phytother Res 1997;11:576-582.

  1. Silagy, CA, Neil HA. A meta-analysis of the effect of garlic on blood pressure. J Hypertens 1994;12:463-468
  2. Jee SH, Miller ER III, Guallar E, et al. The effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Am J Hypertens 1989;13:227-232.

 

Infusion Health Stress Reduction Techniques for Corporate Culture: A recap from our corporate wellness seminar in Toronto last week

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Last week Infusion Health had the pleasure of working with BHP Biliton, providing helpful stress reduction tips and tricks.  Here is a recap of some important points from our interactive workshop.

 

1. Cell phones can impact stress levels!

A study by the Families and Work Institute found that 1 in 3 US employees’ feels chronically overworked? Cell phones and email are partly to blame: “Better technology hasn’t meant that we can work from anywhere, anytime,” says Ellen Galinsky, president and cofounder of the institute. “It’s meant that we can work everywhere, every time.” (Families and Work Institute, 2014)

Turing off your phone for even 1 hour can help one to relax and improve mood.

2. Work is stressing Canadians out!

Work appears to be the #1 source of stress for Canadians

The majority of highly stressed workers (62%) identified work as their main source of stress. Clustered far behind were financial concerns and not having enough time (both at 12%), family matters, and personal and other issues such as relationships, health and generalized worries These proportions are very similar to those reported in 2005(Stats Canada 2011)

3. Try herbal teas, such as holy basil, instead of coffee.

Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) can help the body’s natural response to physical and emotional stress. Multiple scientific studies have found that supplementation with Holy Basil tea have helped lower cortisol levels in the body (the hormone that is associated with stress). This tea is easily found at most grocery stores in the natural foods section

 

3. Integrate relaxation techniques into your daily life.

It can be deep breathing, meditation, exercise, yoga or another technique to help you relax. Whatever it is, these techniques that help us calm down are so important for our health! Read on for steps on Progressive Muscle Relaxation- this technique has been proven to help relax and improve focus in treatment groups.

PMR is a two-step process in which you systematically tense and relax different muscle groups in the body. PMR brings awareness to tension and relaxation in different parts of your body. Combined with deep breathing, this awareness can help you counterbalance the feelings of stress in your body.

***Warning: Consult with your doctor if you have a history of muscle spasms, back problems, or other serious injuries that may be aggravated by tensing muscles before trying PMR.

Most progressive muscle relaxation practitioners start at the feet and work their way up to the face. Follow the steps listed below for a complete PMR body sequence (adapted from http://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/ndarc/resources/AppendicesCC.pdf)

  • Loosen your clothing, take off your shoes, and get comfortable.
  • Take a few minutes to relax, breathing in and out in slow, deep breaths.
  • When you’re relaxed and ready to start, shift your attention to your right foot. Take a moment to focus on the way it feels.
  • Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot, squeezing as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10.
  • Relax your right foot. Focus on the tension flowing away and the way your foot feels as it becomes limp and loose.
  • Stay in this relaxed state for a moment, breathing deeply and slowly.
  • When you’re ready, shift your attention to your left foot. Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release.
  • Move slowly up through your body, contracting and relaxing the muscle groups as you go.
  • It may take some practice at first, but try not to tense muscles other than those intended.
  • Lower Legs (Left foot/ Left Calf) – point feet towards face, and then curl them downward all toes at the same
  • Thighs – Clench them hard
  • Hips and Buttocks – Press your buttocks together lightly
  • Stomach – Suck it into a tight knot ( looking at the chest and stomach for tension)
  • Back – Arch your back up and away from the chair (or floor)
  • Shoulders – Shrug them ( raise toward your ears)
  • Biceps and Upper Arms – Clench your hands into fists, bend our arms at the elbows, and flex your bicep
  • Wrists and Forearms – Extend them, and bend your hands back at the wrist.
  • Hands – make fist and clench them
  • Chest – Take a deep breath, and hold it
  • Front of the Neck –touch your chin to your chest
  • Back of the Neck – Press Neck against floor, or imagine pressing against a car seat
  • Mouth – Press your lips together tightly ( use only your lips – check your face for tension)
  • Cheeks and Jaws – Smile as widely as you can
  • Eyes and Bridge of the Nose – Close your eyes as tightly as you can ( remove contacts first)
  • Forehead – Wrinkle it into a deep frown

We would love to hear from you! How to you relax?

For more information on Infusion Health’s wellness workshops and seminars please email info@infusionhealth.ca or visit http://www.infusionhealth.ca

In Health,

Dr. Emily