Fall Focus Reset: Day 14
We’re bringing things home on Day 14 with three movements to fight, or help prevent, lower back pain.
After the Reset: as we’ve arrived at the end of the Reset, you’re now armed with 14 powerful mobility routines for your ongoing daily movement practice. Make it your own: practice the flows that feel particularly good and helpful for your body, stacking flows to create the perfect routine for your current needs, and change things up over time.
Holistic Health Deep Dive
Welcome to the final day of the Fall Focus Reset! Armed with powerful new daily habits, I hope that you’re feeling more energized and productive and excited to integrate all that you have learned.
Throughout the Reset, we’ve explored various aspects of stress and its effect on our health. Realizing how pervasive stress is can initially make our outlook seem bleak. But that does not need to be the case! Much of our exposure to stressors is in our control, and by reducing our “stressor load”, we can directly improve our vitality and health.
Before we dive into ways we can reduce our load, it’s important to remember that when it comes to our wellness journey, the goal is not perfection. In todays’ society and environment, we will be exposed to stressors. And that’s ok – our bodies have built-in mechanisms to detoxify toxins and manage stress.
But to a point. The trouble begins when our exposure to toxins and other stressors becomes high and chronic. This is why the key is to remove exposures where we can – to do our best, but not get over-consumed by every little decision we make or action we take, as that constant worry will be counterproductive, simply adding to our stress load.
The Bucket Effect
Think of your body as a bucket, and your stressor load as the amount of water in that bucket.
As your bucket is exposed to stressors, it gradually fills – the level might even go up and down as toxins are detoxified. But your bucket can’t hold an indefinite amount of water, so if those stressors keep dropping into your bucket, and this accumulation is continuous, it will eventually overflow.
So is our health. Our body can deal with a moderate stress load. But when that load becomes heavy and chronic, our body will no longer be able to maintain homeostasis – it will not be able to function properly.
So what can we do to keep our bucket level low? Here are some of my favorite and very impactful ways to minimize exposure to environmental stressors and increase our body’s ability to deal with stress:
1. Reduce your toxic load
Something I like to do periodically is take inventory of my exposure to toxins. What cleaning supplies am I using? Am I proportionally consuming a lot of non-organic produce that’s sprayed with chemicals? What hard-to-pronounce ingredients are in my skincare?
While it’s very difficult to control our toxic exposure outside our home, there are many cleaner, safer alternatives for the things we use, consume and are exposed to under our own roof. Opt for:
- organic produce where possible (and ideally at a minimum for the “dirty dozen” - the most sprayed fruits and vegetables)
- “green” cleaning supplies
- non-toxic skincare (the Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” database is a great resource!)
2. Play away the stress
You read that correctly: taking some time each day to do something fun has a direct, positive impact on our health!
Whether alone or with friends, colleagues or loved ones, play is a time to forget about work, commitments and anything that might be causing you stress. You can do something active, or share jokes or a meal — there doesn’t need to be any purpose to the activity beyond having fun!
Play triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals, which reduce stress and promote an overall sense of well-being.
Playful activities also activate our parasympathetic nervous system. Unlike the sympathetic nervous system which triggers the fight-or-flight response to stress, the parasympathetic nervous system promotes the "rest and digest" response, calming our body down.
Remember the HPA hormonal axis that we spoke about on Day 11? Well, the more time we take for play, the more we minimize chronic stress, preventing our HPA axis from being continuously activated and our hormonal systems from being knocked out of balance.
Similarly to play, restorative movement practices such as gentle yoga and tai chi combine movement with deep breathing and mental focus, which can also relax the nervous system.