The National Institute of Whole Health (NIWH) | Pioneers of Whole Health Education® and Whole Person Care
January 16, 2018

What Exactly Is Stress And Where Does It Come From?

By Georgianna Donadio, MSc, DC, PhD

What Exactly Is Stress And Where Does It Come From?

A statement by the well-known mind/body physician, Herb Benson, M.D. says that 60-90% of all visits to the doctor’s office are due to stress. We all hear about stress, experience stress, but what exactly is stress? Most of us think of stress as the emotional conflicts we experience in our daily lives, but our emotions are just one category or one type of “event” explored in health coach certification that can cause us to experience stress.

In order for us to survive in our ever-changing environments, our bodies are designed to adapt and it does so through a series of biochemical reactions. These chemical reactions are natural and necessary, but they are the wear and tear of living that we call stress.

Here’s an example I like to share in relations to health coach certification because it gives a clear vision of this principle. When I was living in New York City, I drove my little stick shift through the stop and go traffic. Imagine the wear and tear (stress) on the clutch.

There are many events that might cause similar stress to our bodies. Some may surprise you.

  • Weather
  • Excess Exertion (such as too much exercise or lack of sleep)
  • Trauma or Injuries
  • Allergies and Immune Insults
  • Infections
  • Reproduction Related Events (monthly cycle, pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, etc.)

While the common nature of these events does not sound encouraging, there is some good news. If we have a stress response that is short term, like when the phone rings and the nurse tells you that your child had been vomiting, our bodies do just fine.

It is the prolonged stress, like anticipating for two whole weeks a root canal or that pesky “annual office evaluation.” That does us in! In health coach certification, students learn that this extended stress affects our digestive system, immune system, cardiovascular and even reproductive systems. Couple this with poor eating habits or insufficient sleep, and we are not happy campers.

While excessive or chronic stress is definitely not good for our health, we need stress adaptation for survival, so it is actually a very good thing. How this adaptation takes place is by way of specialized hormones from our adrenal glands, located in our kidneys. They change our heart rate, blood pressure, lung capacity, and a host of other functions, for our survival. However, these hormones, if secreted too much or too often can suppress our immune, digestive and reproductive systems and even damage our cardiovascular system. Chronic stress is one very large reason why some of us have fertility problems.

So how can we make friends with stress? The answer is good old moderation. Remember being told “all things in moderation leads to a healthy body.” It is true. We do not have to learn to do anything exotic to reduce stress, we just need to balance our lives and avoid excess.

Nevertheless, there is the rub, given modern life. We are all excessing more and more and moderating less. This is part of the reason why health coach certification is essential. For a great book on this subject, check out Why Zebras Don’t Have Ulcers by Dr. Robert Sapolsky. It is a very witty and informative book.

Laugher, as we know, is “our best medicine.” It is also a great stress reducer.


 

Join the conversation. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to follow NIWH on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates filled with useful health coach certification information for holistic nurses and health advocates.

 

 

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Published in Health Coach Certification, Holistic Health, Whole Health Living | Comments (0)

January 9, 2018

The Value of Building Cooperative Relationships In The Workplace

By Georgianna Donadio, MSc, DC, PhD

The Value of Building Cooperative Relationships In The WorkplaceSome of us in the accredited health program may not realize just how important it is to create excellent relationships with our co-workers. Without the support or cooperation of those with whom we spend a significant amount of our time, our job performance and certainly our work satisfaction can suffer. Several studies have shown that difficult office relationships impair performance and decrease morale even more seriously than rumors of employee layoffs.

Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours working, or planning lessons for the accredited health program courses. And as a result, we spend the majority of our time with our co-workers. Just as with other people in our lives with whom we interact on a regular basis, our co-workers need to be viewed as important and essential parts of our “life support” group. Cultivating respectful, considerate relationships with our co-workers is good for our health and our work performance. It creates a positive and friendly environment where we spend a majority of our time.

Here are some easy ways to make the work environment nicer, friendlier and more positive place:

Avoid gossiping: No one wants to be gossiped about. If you don’t gossiping about others, your co-workers will get the message that you do not wish to “stir the stink” about them and they will respect your integrity and treat you likewise. If someone starts to gossip with you, simply respond: “Really?” Then change the subject or excuse yourself from the conversation. Reducing gossip effectively enhances the work environment and your reputation.
Show genuine interest: One of the nicest experiences is having someone show interest in the things that interest us, such as our accredited health program topics. It makes us feel valued and builds rapport and trust. If you are aware of co-worker’s interests and happen to run across something pertaining to those subjects, giving them information or helpful articles can really make their day and enhance your working relationships.
Give credit where credit is due: Embrace the win-win attitude and always give credit where credit is due. If people have worked hard and made a huge contribution to a project, they should be recognized and applauded for their efforts. Nothing is more uplifting than being recognized for our contributions and the value we bring to our work. By supporting and appreciating co-workers, you create for them and for yourself a cooperative and trustworthy environment that encourages them to continue to do their best.

Competition can be healthy, but not when it results in giving credit to the wrong people or not recognizing excellence in others.

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Published in Accredited Health Program, Whole Health Living | Comments (0)

January 2, 2018

Mindful Eating Can Overcome Big Nutrition Issues

By Georgianna Donadio, MSc, DC, PhD

mindful eating can overcome big health issues

I love what Geneen Roth has to say about our relationship with food and how it reflects our relationship with ourselves.  In my over thirty years as a clinical nutritionist and overseeing our health advocacy program, I have observed, like Geneen, that we feed ourselves the same way we live our lives.  The way of mindful eating is that our eating patterns and nutrition, like adaptation and survival, are critical components of our ability to live and thrive. This mindful eating can help us overcome some big and growing nutrition issues.

The Source Of The Challenge

In spite of the fact that the food we eat has such a significant impact on our whole being and quality of life, most of us are wildly confused about nutrition. This is especially true today because this basic necessity has turned into a multi-billion dollar industry, selling us foods and nutrition related goods our parents didn’t need or know about.

“In the old days”, food was produced more naturally with less processing, lifestyles were less complicated and decidedly less stressful.  Remember how we said we would never grow up to be like our parents? We may want to rethink that – they are the healthiest and wealthiest generation ever!  Our health advocacy program recognizes that nutrition has become a big health issue because of poor quality food, soaring stress levels and our lack of exercise.  “The balanced diet” –the tried and true standard for good nutrition has been pushed aside for every conceivable variation on what and how to eat.

Some of this new information is quite useful and lots of it appeals to our vanity or desire to avoid taking the long look at what Geneen Roth refers to as “being present to our food and our lives.” If we are present, we realize that moderation and balance (just like with stress!) is the way to go.  Our foods are chemicals and can affect our emotions as well as our bodies.

A Grainy Example

An example of this is excess grain consumption. Human beings do not produce enzymes to break down cellulose, the outer protective layer of grain.  Many animals like cows and horses can eat grain in its natural state without a problem. If we attempted that, we would injure our mouths and esophagus, so we alter the grain from its natural state to flour, in order to consume it.  We think we can eat whatever, so we get creative and bake, fry, boil, etc. this processed grain into “food.”

Unfortunately, the majority of us do not tolerate the protein gluten found in most grains.  Gluten can damage and weaken the lining of our gut, leading to all kinds of problems, which can include eating disorders, obesity and depression. Humans are also the only mammals that continue to consume milk after weaning, and it’s breast milk from another species at that.

When we are experiencing mindful eating, we become aware of our body’s responses to what we put into it.  That requires slowing down, which is what our nervous systems have to do for our digestion to work properly. Stress is “anti-nutritious” because during stress our ability to deal with the “emergency” at hand.  Stress also significantly increases the need for certain nutrients, which are critical for the stress response. Protein, Vitamins A, B, C, and E, unsaturated fatty acids and minerals need to be replenished.

Moving Forward

How we can improve our nutrition and discern what is best for us? The solution from our health advocacy program is to observe why and how we eat, what feedback our bodies give us and consider the always prudent common sense approach of balance and moderation.  We are living beings, we need to eat living food.  The good news is you can eat all the fruits, vegetables, salads, veggie soups and stews you want (barring allergies) and you can’t go wrong!

Join the conversation. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to follow NIWH on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates filled with useful health advocacy program information for holistic nurses and health coaches.

 

 

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Published in Health Advocacy Program, Integrative Nutrition, Whole Health Living, Whole Health Nutrition | Comments (0)

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