Toxic Triggers - Damaging Habits You Need to Fix Now March 06, 2018 11:41

Use these simple changes to jump start the healing process.

toxic triggers

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!

tendency to overwork

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. 

lack of sleep

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.

If that doesn't do the trick, try some meditative breath work : Inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of one, then exhale for a count of five. Repeat as necessary to induce sleep—or at least reduce your anxiety about being awake. 

fast food

Your convenience foods fetish

Convenience foods aren't inherently evil; in fact, they can be quite helpful to busy Americans...if you take care to limit them and balance your intake with healthier choices. Relying on restaurants or fast-food joints for most of your meals or grabbing quick microwave entrees isn't a good idea and will likely cause your blood sugar and blood fat levels to rise to dangerous levels.

Avoid It: Limit eating out to a couple of times a week. The rest of the time, cook your own simple, organic fare. Never microwave in plastic containers or plastic-lined cardboard ones, which may leach chemicals into food. Use glass or lead-free ceramic instead.