The Livewell Clinic - July 2019



13375 University Avenue, Suite 100, Clive, IA 50325||515.279.9900


When it comes to managing stress, I often encourage patients to consider how they bookend their day. There are two points in your day that you have complete control over. When you first wake up, you decide if you’re going to sleep for an extra hour and grab a doughnut on your way out the door or if you’re going to get up in time to meditate and eat a filling breakfast. When you get home, you decide how long to scroll through your phone, what TV shows to watch, and what to do with your family. It's that chaos in the middle of your day, that unmitigated stress, that you cannot control. This makes your morning and evening routines so significant to your mental well-being. Personally, I’m a fan of creating a routine that fits into my life. Each morning, I try to go for a walk, do some reading, and spend a few moments staring out my window, watching the birds eat their breakfast. It sounds dorky, I know. But it’s a relaxing way to start the day in between checking in on The Livewell Clinic and bussing the kids around. The evenings can be difficult on my routine, but I try to make sure that I have time to relax. I dim the lights, sip some tea, and clear my head of the day’s thoughts and tasks. I also enjoy doing something mindless, like watching a baseball game or playing a game with the kids. As for my family, I try to keep those relationships to a routine by scheduling time to bond with my kids and planning a lunch or dinner for just my wife and me. Stress can be vital to survival; it’s what has helped mankind evolve over billions of years. But it’s nearly as important to our survival that we find time to relax. Stress is a thermal response that releases hormones throughout your body. When you’re stressed, your body begins to go into

“breakdown mode," because it feels overwhelmed with what it’s being forced to cope with. So, it rightfully begins releasing more hormones in an attempt to shelter the body’s strength, which ultimately throws you off your game. These stress hormones have been shown to damage your brain and memory, stimulate osteoporosis, create abnormalities in women’s bodies, and contribute to significant gut detriments. Essentially, your entire immune system is compromised when you are stressed. But stress can be difficult to pin down. Not getting enough sleep can stress your body. Working out too much can stress your body. Poor nutrition causes stress. This means that if you are not actively rejuvenating yourself, you are letting this silent killer consume you. When you’re filled with the hatred and anger that stress can incite, no amount of exercise or proper nutrition is going to help you. Creating a healthy lifestyle involves stimulating a great mentality and following up with healthy actions. You need to schedule self-care moments, and these can be a vital part to avoiding and fighting off chronic diseases. Think of your body like a car. Before you head off on a road trip, your car needs to be filled with the right fuel. If you don’t recharge and fuel up the tank, the car won’t run, and your trip will be over before it can begin. Likewise, when you’re overwhelmed, stressed, or at a busy point, you need a few breaks before your tank hits empty.

Dr. Zachary Watkins


317-776-9942 515.279.9 00

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