Toxic Triggers: Damaging Habits You Need to Fix Now August 01, 2017 16:05

Jump start the healing process.

Toxic avengers surround us every day. It's time to ID them and start healing!


Toxic Trigger #1: 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.

lack of sleep

Toxic Trigger #2: Your lack of sleep

For your body's innate processes of detoxification  to work at their best, you need plenty of rest. If you're ruthless with yourself and wake up at 5 a.m. every morning to squeeze in a two-hour cardio workout, work intensely late and into the night, and only allow yourself four hours or so of sleep—as one of my patients did—you're not allowing your body's innate detoxification system to work at its best.

Avoid It: To be your healthiest, aim to get eight hours of sleep a night. If you wake in the night, practice dream remembrance, that is, as soon as you start to feel that you are going to wake, instead reject conscious thinking and keep your attention on the dream as tenaciously as you can.

bad habits

Toxic Trigger #3: Your checkered past

Ah, youth...that magical time when we think we are invincible, able to do, eat, or consume anything without consequence. Experimenting with drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes is so common in our youth culture that we nearly consider it a rite of passage. Though we grow out of those habits, our bodies hold on to the memories—literally.

When the system is overloaded with toxins, it is forced to find a home for them. Mostly it tucks them away neatly in a nest of body fat, to be dealt with later. Problem is, most of us are carrying on in lifestyles that create ongoing toxic stressors —the body is so busy processing our daily exposures that it never gets a chance to go back and clean up the past.

Avoid It: Stop smoking immediately (use this trick to quit), limit your alcohol intake to one or two drinks five days per week, and avoid recreational drugs. You might also want to look askance at some of your prescriptions. Talk to your doctor about potential for toxicity and—if the risk if high—about other options.

self care

Toxic Trigger #4: Your tendency toward social isolation

Loneliness is one of those ubiquitous toxins that fly under the radar, but its effects can nonetheless be devastating. Every day, new studies are confirming that social isolation leads to degenerative health conditions, most notably depression and heart disease.

Avoid It: Make time for friends weekly(and, no, Facebook updates will not do). If you're facing a crisis, try to find a support group with whom to share your feelings.