Beating STRESS with a big green STICK!

At Vaughan Chiropractic, we walk softly, but carry a Big Green stick, often referred to as our “TIC”.  Along with spinal adjustments, we often speak in metaphors of principle we call “TIC” for the purpose of keeping ourselves and our practice members connected to those anchors keep us on our path of lifetime wellness.

Isn’t ironic that with all the rapidly changing, hi tech, information overloading communication cycles happening in our world today, tweeting, skyping, e-mailing and facebooking, when you ad to that digital video and photography, that with all of our evolving medicines and technology, we’re actually getting more unhealthy in relationship to ourselves. In other words, we do less those good habits and rituals designed to bring us better health which really means a better means of adapting to the changes that come.

All of us are impacted by STRESS today, but those of us who have cultivated a better relationship with their true priorities suffer less. I’ll give you an example. 

In November of 1989, almost 22 years ago, I was at a “burn out” stage of my life. Many university students today are in the same position.  It was in my 2nd year university when my stress symptoms got the best of me. My GP thought it a good idea to refer me to a specialist at the Montreal Neurological Institute for a week of observation after noticing that incidents of myoglobin in my urine was becoming more common and frequent.

After a week of testing and observation, Dr. George Karpati, chief metabolic neuropathophysiologist at the time, diagnosed me with a genetically based Metabolic Muscular Dystrophy. The official diagnosis, Carnitine Palmitoyl Transferase Deficiency.

When I expressed an sense of “are you sure?”, he responded directly saying “Gus, if you don’t believe me when I say it’s in your genes, I’m happy to refer you to our resident psychiatrist who will investigate whether or not they might find something wrong in your head”.  I took the train back to London that afternoon and committed to myself that I would do whatever it takes to better build a bridge between my body and mind so that I could better improve my health myself.

I started studying the effects of stress and switched my major from physical education, biology and psychology toward physiology and the study of integration of systems and holism. My volleyball coach advised me to start getting adjusted and little did I know how much that decision would influence my life today as Dr. Bob Eidt started using his big green stick on me, speaking life, love & challenge into me so I could learn how to take better care of this amazing gift called my health.

Despite being an athlete, what had been a poor “strainful” kind of stress relationship to my body and health, suffering from years of allergies, infections and myoglobin in my urine, adapted into stress of the more “pressure” kind and my life started taking on new meaning.

Instead of playing varsity volleyball in my third year, I gave back my time and coached, alongside Dave Preston (current McMaster Boys Volleyball Head Coach), our London Forest City Midget volleyball team to a National Championship (what an amazing team we had!).  I also started playing beach volleyball and my partner and I excelling at it too as my partner took on and beat some of Canada’s best the summers of 1990 & 91.

Now, after having graduated from Chiropractic College and been in practice for the last 15 years, I can tell you just how important this big green stick is.

Dr. Hans Selye, a pioneer, who also did his best work in Montreal, at the same university, McGill, back in 1936 can too. His insights parallel the big green stick as he observed how all stress has 3 cycles associated to it.

The alarm stage, a period of resistance and exhaustion, most commonly the one we find ourselves in according to Dr. James Chestnut, B.Ed., M.Sc., D.C., C.C.W.P., chair of the new International Chiropractors Association (ICA) Council on Wellness Science who shares the opinion that these first two stages reflect a healthy pressure in our lives when we decide, with a willing heart to challenge ourselves to something new, but an unhealthy strain to our psyche when someone else puts it upon our own unwilling heart. 

I was listening to Jian Gomeshi interview 86 year old Tony Bennett just the other day. He was surprised when Tony shared that he still feels butterflies today, after 50 years of going on stage. The only difference now he says is that even with the butterflies, my heart wants me to go on stage, whereas in my earlier career, I preferred recording over going on stage, but was “forced” to do so and as a result turned to cocaine and alcohol to help me cope with the strain of those times.

Many of us do the same. In Chirporactic, we believe many medications on the marketplace today are doing just that, helping us cope, rather than guiding us back to our whole selves. Although adaptations like the ones we mentioned are a normal part of life and the maturation process of growth, the truth, as my dad use to share with me throughout my life, “not all fruits ripen at the same time”.

Below are 5 of our most important Big Green Stick principles that we believe will help you minimize the impact of strain or burn out in your life and keep you on the path of optimal spine and lifetime wellness during seasons of change in your life.

  1. FOCUS on your FAMILY VISION: Like wearing a pair of glasses keeps your vision strong, scheduling into your week those things that bring you closer to your long term vision are essential to help you through challenging or changing times. The key to success though is to do so with those people you love most in mind – YOUR FAMILY!
  2. MINIMIZE TOXINS: When strain is high, inflammation in your body is too. Inflammatory triggers include the likes of:  processed foods and pesticide based produce, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, lead, meat & dairy, lifestyle medications, aspartame, asbestos, dry cleaning chemicals, basement mold, gassing fumes, tobacco, vaccines and house dust or volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), just to name a few. In preparation for our winter cycle, consider doing a cleanse of your body too – we recommend 2/year. Ask us about the VC 7 day cleanse at your next adjustment.
  3. INCREASE DAILY ACTIVITY and EXPOSURE to HEALTHY OUTDOORS:  According to recent reports, our global population has hit 7 billion! Although some argue that nothing in life is free, I beg to disagree…in fact, I still believe the best things in life are which includes our sun rise and sun set. Along with choosing to wake up on time to watch these daily, I challenge you to also find your favourite way of moving your body this winter and do 25% more than you did last year, regardless of how much discomfort, pain or other excuse you may have. If those are there, find a way to work with it, slow down your pace, find a different exercise, indeed the best exercise on the planet is free too!
  4. USE your WORDS to EXPRESS HURT: Anger and other emotions act as a boomerang when we unwisely choose to express our hurt through uncivil or sometimes even violent behaviour.  Just ask a hockey player what the penalty is for not keeping your cool. Indeed the the real pros appreciate the consequences and their teamates do too. Be an example that teacheds your children to use their words, whether that be with the person who you feel has upset you, in a journal or through meditation & prayer. Learning to use your your words to communicate effectively how you feel whether that be put down, let down or shut down is a skill rarely admired in today’s busy world, but a challenge worthy to limiting the exhaustion or strain you may otherwise feel in your life if you don’t.
  5. LIVE WITH OPTIMAL SPINAL HEALTH: Living with a healthy balanced posture and subluxation free spine keeps your body and mind connected with your innate with the highest degree of efficiency. Just like choosing to brush your teeth for life, we can each choose to maximize our nerve flow by getting adjusted for life too!