Tips to Relieve Your Postural Stress

Tips to Relieve Your Postural Stress

Do you sit at desk for most of your day? Is your current workstation set up for proper posture? Are your shoulders, back, and neck stiff? Do you find yourself in a hunched over position often?

I see many patients who suffer from postural stress (or desk work). It’s a common problem that leads to upper back, neck, and headache problems. Most of this is preventable by trying to change up your daily routine at your desk.

Therefore, let’s talk about the desk position. Many times, when working in a stationary position, we get tired and may slouch. The upper back and their postural muscles get tired, we lose our posture, rounding forward to a slumped position and our neck strained out. We might be in an unfriendly chair, or the desk set up isn’t comfortable for us, contributing to the muscle tension. In addition to back and neck strain, our chest can get really tight because of the strain to our back.

Think about your head being about 8-10 pounds, similar to a bowling ball. (I like to call this the bowling ball effect.) Imagine holding a bowling ball straight out in front of you – your neck, back, and chest are going to get sore. There will be less impact if the head (that 8-10 pound bowling ball) is held close toward your body.

Hopefully all that helps you understand why your body ensures postural stress at a desk.

Here are some tips for opening up your shoulders, upper back and neck area.

Begin by addressing the low back. Sit up straight in your chair and make sure the curvature is correct. Sometimes placing a pillow, specifically a lumbar pillow, for support can help.

Similarly, adjust your monitor so that it is higher, so you aren’t tempted to slouch down to see it, putting stress on your low back and neck.

Be aware when you start to slouch your head forward. Bring it back to an upright position – move the “bowling ball” closer into your body.

After that, find a friendly chair, one you are comfortable sitting in for extended periods of time.

In addition, take breaks throughout the day – usually every 30-45 minutes.

Try playing what I call “The Game of Opposites.” If you are in a seated position looking forward most of the day, practice the opposite of that position. Stand up, open your hips, stretch your back and neck to the rear of you, and roll your shoulders to open them up.

Lean into the doorway to stretch your chest muscles by putting your arms out at a 90-degree angle and gently pressing into a door frame.

Do chin tucks by pulling your chin back toward your spine, pulling your head in. These a just a few tips for helping relieve postural stress due to desk work. Above all, if you have persistent issues, call me and schedule an appointment at the clinic. I’m here to help!

Fall Fitness Activities with the Family

Fall Fitness Activities with the Family

Fall fitness activities can be challenging as the weather gets cooler. Your options outdoors with the family may seem limited. However, there are still some things you can do together to get exercise. Here are a few of my favorites. 

In the fall, I like to go hiking as a family. Hearing the crunch of the leaves underneath our feet is fun. Our kids like to explore the different leaves on the ground, and see their surroundings differently with the leaves down versus when the trees are full of leaves. Make an event of the hike and take in all the senses. There are many Regional and State Park trails to explore, including some awesome options near the Twin Cities. You can enjoy this one with almost any age children. 

It snowed early this year, so you might have missed this activity, but raking leaves together is a great way to get outside and be active. Kids love to jump in leaves and throw them up in the air, so that keeps them moving and active. Think about sectioning off your yard and doing a race to see who can rake their section first. You can do this individually or in teams. It’s going to be in the 60’s this week, so maybe you still have time for this one after all. 

We are a little past peak season with the leaf colors, so keep this one for next year… Take a fall bike ride and play a search and find game for the different tree colors. You could count how many colors you see in one section of the ride or tally up the number of a certain color you see in an allotted amount of time. Adding a game element to your bike ride may engage the kids more. 

You could also move your activities indoors. There are fun apps out there for activities you can download. Or you can stream YouTube videos that encourage movement and make games of indoor activities. 

I hope this helps give you some ideas for fall fitness activities. Let me know what you are up to to stay active with your family! In addition, if you enjoyed this article, read more blog posts from UHC!

The Stress Wheel Part 2:  Chemical And Spiritual Stress

The Stress Wheel Part 2: Chemical And Spiritual Stress

Today we are going to tackle part 2 of the stress wheel. Spiritual Stress and Chemical Stress. As a reminder, this is a self-assessment tool to help you look at the different versions of stress in your life. More importantly, it helps you look at the action steps you can take to help better manage the various types of stress.  

Last time we discussed physical and emotional stress, including the types of stress there are in these categories and how that can impact you. We also talked about tips for coping, so you can create harmony. These practical action steps help you to have a preventative mind-set for stress.  

Again, the goal of using this tool is to create more harmony. By looking at each area of potential stress and rating your stress level, you can focus on evening out the low ratings by taking practical action steps to manage that particular stress area.  

Let’s look at the last two major categories. I’ll define the type of stress and offer practical suggestions for coping. 

Chemical stress

This is a large category, and many people aren’t aware of these stressors. 

  • Food – processed foods. Coping: If you can’t pronounce the names on the box, avoid it. Shop the parameter of the grocery store, like fresh foods only.  
  • Environment – work environment and chemicals we are exposed to, like paint, technology materials, etc. Coping: Be aware of the chemicals in your environment, especially if you experience illness in one setting particularly. 
  • Body care products – shampoos, soaps, toothpastes usually have chemicals in them. Coping: Check the ingredient labels. 
  • Allergies – some people are allergic to certain chemicals. Coping: Ultimate Health Chiropractic does a hair and saliva test for toxins, to see if you have any toxins built up in your system. 
  • ​Toxins – like heavy metals, parasites, molds, etc. Coping: Consider the hair and saliva test for toxins, to see if you have any toxins built up in your system. 
  • ​Supplements & Medications – not all are bad, but some may cause issues. Coping: talk to your medical doctor if you are experiencing side effects from medications you are taking. 

​​​​Spiritual stress

This is your moral code or moral compass. We all have different beliefs, and we could go into many religions here. I will stick to my experience and beliefs. If you experience spiritual stress, there are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • What do you believe to be true? Where do you get your truth? Are you doing things that line up with your truth? 
  • Coping: For me, it’s a relationship based faith. I believe in a higher power, in God and Jesus. More than that, it is a personal relationship with God. That means spending time building the relationship. Prayer is another coping strategy, either praying for myself or others. Listening to positive influences, versus listening to the negative, can help with coping. Many people chose a mentor to help with this stress category. You will have to tweak this for what resonates with you.  

As we wrap up, remember the key to using the stress wheel is: 

  1. Recognizing where your stress lies, and naming it. 
  2. Taking practical actions to help manage stress in the categories that are troublesome.

Instead of just saying, “I’m stressed!” Pause to answer why you are stressed and what you can do about it. Look at the different types of stress: physical, emotional, chemical and spiritual stress. Where are you right now in each category? What can you do to cope with that stress?  

Feel free to reach out if you would like support in using the stress wheel. I hope you find this tool helpful!

The Stress Wheel Part 1:  Physical And Emotional Stress

The Stress Wheel Part 1: Physical And Emotional Stress

Today we are going to dive more into mental health and look into ways of managing stress. The stress wheel is a tool I use with clients over the years to help them look at different versions of stress in their life. Many people say they are “stressed” but they don’t go as far as to pinpoint where the stress is coming from. This tool helps to break types of stress into categories and help develop practical action steps to develop new patterns.  

One of my favorite sayings is, “You are where you are today because of the patterns you have created.” If you like where you are today, then keep your patterns. If you don’t like where you’re at today, change your patterns.  

The body is an amazing thing.

It can adapt to what is going on around it. The body can adapt to positive and negative situations. This is where most chronic health issues come in. Most chronic diseases are preventable, and they are due to unmanaged stress over long periods of time. Stress management will hopefully help prevent long-term health issues.  

I created the stress wheel to help patients self-assess and improve their health through stress management.  The circle on the outside has four categories to evaluate.  

  1. Physical Stress 
  2. Emotional stress 
  3. Chemical stress 
  4. Spiritual stress 

The goal is to look at each category and rate the current stress state, on a scale of 1-10. If you are at a 10/10 in each category, then you are doing fantastic! You can teach me some things. But maybe you have an 8, 6, 2, and 8. The two is going to cause you trouble. We want to smooth the circle and move the two out in that particular area. 

Let’s look at a couple of the categories this week. I’ll define the type of stress and offer practical suggestions for coping.  

Physical Stress 

There are different kinds of physical stress that can cause issues. 

  • Repetitive injuries – exercise done incorrectly or over exercising. Coping: ramp up exercise at a steady pace. 
  • Postural stress – poor posture at your workstation leading to chronic issues. Coping: create an ergonomic workstation and stretch throughout the day. 
  • Trauma – falls, car accidents. How do you manage these after they happen? Coping: address the physical trauma through chiropractic care or other medical intervention. 
  • Eye strain – looking at screens and computers repetitively. Coping: schedule screen “down time” and take regular breaks throughout the day. Avoid going from working in front of a screen to scrolling through social media or the TV.  
  • Sleep – not getting enough sleep, no sleep routine. Coping: set a sleep schedule and prepare your body for sleep by physically relaxing before bed. 

Emotional stress

If you don’t address this stress, it can lead to physical stress.  

  • Finances – worry or insecurity can lead to stress. Coping: I like to say, “revealing the feeling is emotionally healing.” This tip can be true for all types of emotional stress. Find a trusted person to express your feelings to. Stuffing them will not help you in the long run. Financial planning and budgeting can help relieve the stress.  
  • Sleep – lack of sleep or not getting sounds sleep. Coping: exercise (appropriately) during the day to get your energy out.  
  • Relationships – spending less or more time with certain people. Even spending more time with people you love can be stressful!  Coping: engage your support network and lean on them for emotional support. Learn to say “no” so you aren’t overcommitting. I have a hard time with this one! Do your best to set boundaries and it will decrease stress over time. 
  • Work – changes in work environments, hours, even positive changes can be stressful. Coping: set work boundaries and find a professional support system. 
  • Past experiences – I refer to this as the “bitter bag”, holding on to resentment. Coping: Again “revealing the feeling is emotionally healing.” 

Coming Up Next

Remember, the key to using the stress wheel is: 

  1. Recognizing where your stress lies, and naming it. 
  2. Taking practical actions to help manage stress in the categories that are troublesome. 

If you have any questions, please reach out to me. I love helping people, even beyond the physical ailments. I am here to support you!