I see them every day: the walking wounded. They drag themselves into my office looking pasty, bloated, and wan. They are tired—often bone tired, with barely enough energy to make it through the day. At the same time, they are working harder than ever, running 100 miles an hour on scant fumes, stepping on the stress accelerator all day until it’s time to pass out.
They’re overweight (maybe just a little, maybe a lot). They’re achy. They complain of arthritis, or back pain, or stiff neck, or one of the millions of other painful little messages that their bodies are sending, trying to prompt them to slow it all down—to take care of themselves.
Toxic avengers surround us every day. It’s time to ID them and start healing!
Your tendency to overwork
Being ambitious and driven could mean you’re in overdrive nearly all the time. That means your sympathetic nervous system could be stuck in that classic fight-or-flight state that taxes the adrenal system and pumps cortisol and adrenaline into the body.
This leads to weight gain over time, along with shallow breathing, anxiety, higher pulse rate, and an increase in vascular tone…all migraine stage setters, if not outright triggers.
Avoid It: Stimulate your body’s natural antidote, the calming parasympathetic nervous system, so you’re not constantly stuck in overdrive. Meditation is the gold-standard practice for relaxation and perspective. The health benefits are innumerable and are being borne out by study after study showing that it promotes very real and beneficial changes in body and brain.
My favorite technique is one used by the Vietnamese Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Simply sit, breathe, and connect your breath to this mantra: “Breathing in, I feel calm. Breathing out, I smile.” Even four or five rounds of this simple meditation can change your mood, improve your health, and create balance between your sympathetic and parasympathetic system dominance.