Beating Anxiety And Stress Naturally

So I recently had a patient tell me her doctor wanted to put her on medications for anxiety issues.  She said she did NOT want to be put on medicine.  I told her I’d send a message to her about how to deal with anxiety without drugs.  I let her know that she was talking to someone who personally dealt with anxiety, and even full blown panic attacks, about a decade ago, and never had to take a drug.  So, this blog post is for her, and for all that deal with issues like anxiety, stress, and even insomnia, which is often present with these issues.

First let me say that if you are dealing with anxiety issues, it IS real. You’re not crazy.  But it doesn’t have to lead to dependence on medications, because after all, the cause of anxiety isn’t a lack of Zoloft in your body.  So buckle up, there are things you can do about this.  There are three things I recommend that are effective, and each one requires some explanation, so I’ll start with just one in this post.

First on the mental side, there’s an activity I recommend everyone do whether or not they deal with stress/anxiety.  It’s called the gratitude exercise.  Don’t “poo-poo” this idea because it sounds like something from a burnt out hippie.  It really works well.  Here’s how to start your gratitude journal/exercise.

Every night, the last thing you do before you go to bed should be this exercise.  Make sure all the things you have to do before walking to your bed are done, ie the dogs are in, all lights are out except what you need, you’ve been to the bathroom, brushed your teeth etc.  Sit down, and with a notebook, or an app like Evernote, start the exercise.  I want you to be able to go straight to bed when you finish this with no delay.   You need to think of 3 (at least) things you are grateful for from that day.  Write/type them into your journal.  But, don’t just write them down.  The object is not just to make a list. The object is to re-experience what it is you’re grateful for.  So write it down, but write down why you’re grateful for it.  One of my more recent ones looked like this: “Thank you God for a walk today. I exercised and felt better about myself for doing it. Plus it got Sil and I doing things together.  It was great to be outside and moving.”.  Yes I am a Christian and I believe in thanking God for all I get to experience (In all things give thanks).  You don’t have to write it that way, but it’s how I do it.

By writing down why I’m grateful for it, it creates a feeling in me like I’m going through the experience again.  It has been scientifically shown that by re-experience and focusing on things we are happy about or grateful for, it creates the same physiological changes inside us that occurred when the event actually happened.  That’s healthy for you and I.  Conversely, when we relive a negative event, or focus on our worries, it too creates physiological changes inside us, but of the negative variety.  That leads to illness and disease.

I would also suggest, to piggy back on this idea of gratitudes, that you take the first ten minutes of every day, when you first wake, to spend it in gratitude as well.  I call those ten minutes my “Think and Thank” minutes.  What a great way to bookend your days, filling it with gratitude!  And any time during a day when you are feeling particularly stressed or anxious, focus on gratefulness.  Maybe re-read your journal if that helps.

That’s a good start for today.  You can start this today, and I recommend you use this even if you’ve never dealt with stress/anxiety in your life, it’s a great way to retrain your brain to focus on what is going great in your life as it’s too easy for our brains to focus on what’s not quite right.  Watch for the next step to be posted in a few days.

Until next time…Be Well.

Dr. Bruce


The Perfect Storm For Illness

We are in the perfect storm as I type this.  It is the cold and flu “season” if you will.  I use that term season lightly.  Why?  Because really, do you REALLY think the cold and flu viruses have a season where they come in and invade, then go away?  Really???  Of course not.  Those viruses are always around.  They don’t migrate like geese.

But, there IS a season where we are more susceptible to such critters as these viruses.  It IS now.  The question is “Why?”.

Here’s why.  Truly the key to optimum health is our mantra that we often repeat at our office.  “Eat Well, Move Well, Think Well and Rest Well”.  Is there any disease or illness that wouldn’t be diminished by doing these things better?  I think not.

But during the holidays we do none of the above very well.  We have so many sweets around.  Our exercise schedule takes a beating because we are out of our normal routine often (and weather may contribute as well).  There is a significant amount of increased stress during this season.  And certainly we tend to not get as much rest as we would normally get.

One other HUGE additional factor is Vitamin D3.  It is produced via sunlight hitting our bodies.  Here in our hemisphere we are exposed to much less sunlight right now than during other times of the year.  Vitamin D3 has been shown to be involved deeply in our immune system, and most of our culture is low in Vitamin D.  There are solid studies showing keeping one’s Vitamin D levels adequate is better than a flu shot for reducing the flu, and without potential side effects.

So do what you can to boost your immune system.  Fight to keep your exercise program up.  When you’re not at a holiday party, get some good healthy foods in your system.  Practice reducing stress levels (exercise is a top notch way to achieve that).  Get extra rest when you can, and make sure you’re on a solid Vitamin D3 supplement.

Happy New Year Friends.

Until next year….Be well.

Dr. Bruce.


Living In Reality: Most Everyone Cheats…..

…..on their health related lifestyle choices.  Some skip a workout.  Or if they go work out, they don’t do it as hard sometimes because they’re just not “into it”.  Some eat a fast food meal from time to time.  Some sneak chocolate chip cookies that their wife makes for some kids that came over to visit their own kids (my personal favorite cheat).

It happens.  Guess what, the holidays are coming.  Pumpkin and pecan pies.  Cranberry sauce.  Stuffing.  Busy schedules.  Late night parties.  Stress from shopping.  It’s all right around the corner.


No.  Live in reality instead.

Enjoy some (SOME) of the holiday treats.  Get some extra rest when you have a holiday.  Enjoy your time visiting with family and friends.  It’s all part of life.  Just be sure it truly IS moderation.  Be honest with yourself.

I know I’ll be enjoying some tasty treats, some late night gatherings of friends and family, and I might choose to sleep in instead of exercising at times.  But I think the key is, get right back on that horse the very next day, and don’t feel so guilty if you fall off the wagon a time or two.  Just make sure it doesn’t become your new habit.

Don’t beat yourself up.  Don’t totally deny yourself.  Live life in reality.  Enjoy some of the good things in life.  Just remember to not let the good things totally replace the best things for you.

Until next time….Be Well!

Dr. Bruce

No Gym? No Time? No Excuses (Part II)

Well I’m back to continue this conversation!  If this is the first post you have read of mine, go back and look at THIS post to get started.  Today I’ll go into a few options for exercise both for cardiovascular health and for muscular strength (yes you need both as I’ve noted previously).

Today, personally I covered both in one shot.  Here’s what I did.  I walked.  I walked to the end of my block at a decent pace (it’s a long block, probably took me 3 minutes total to get there).  Then I started a light jog.  I jogged for a few minutes.  Then I went back to walking at a solid faster pace.  Then I jogged some more for a minute or two.  I went back to walking.  Finally I did an all out sprint for about 20 seconds before walking back to my house.  Total walking and jogging time was about 9-10 minutes and I covered just under a mile in that time.

I then got back home and did something called Tabata training.  It’s a great way to get resistance training in and cardio training at the same time.  One round of Tabata takes 4 minutes. I did two rounds (8 minutes total, with a 2 minute break in between).  I promise, it gets your heart rate up and I worked upper and lower body, as well as my core.  There are a lot of variations you can put together to ensure you work your whole body.  That’s the great thing about it.  You can get creative and do pushups, crunches, squats, planks, jogging in place, triceps dips or whatever you feel like doing.  My whole workout today took me less than 30 minutes.  Again HERE is the link to learn about Tabata work.  Start slowly with it and if you can’t complete a full 20 seconds of one of the exercises, it’s ok.  It really is.  Where you are physically isn’t near as important as where you are going and if you keep up your program, you’re going to great places.

Another option is something called the 7 Minute Workout app.  Here is a link to that program.  You can get this app for free and it holds your hand and walks you through the program.  It consists of 12 exercises that you do for 30 seconds (remember, if you can’t do 30 seconds of one or more of the exercises, just start where you are and build up).  There’s 10 seconds of rest in between each exercise and the app literally tells you out loud what is next, when to start and when to stop.  So simple!  If you get to where you can do the 7 minutes easily, move on to doing another round of the workout.

All of this can be done in your own home.  If you travel for work, these things can be done in your hotel room.  I meet several times a year with a group of chiropractors, and sometimes the 7 Minute Workout is how we kick off our day. There’s an endless supply of alternatives you can do that are out on the internet.  Variety is a key for fitness, and to keep from getting bored, which is a problem for me.  Whenever I notice I’m skipping a workout, I know that I’ve become bored with the routine and it’s time to change it up.  So, the final question is, what will you do for YOUR fitness?  Remember, start where you are.  Let me know what you end up doing!

Until next time…Be Well.

Dr. Bruce

No Gym? No Time? No Excuses! (Part I)

Seriously, there is NO excuse to not exercise as long as you are physically capable of exercising.  You may not have, nor want to have a gym membership.  That’s fine.  You may be short on time.  No worries.  You may not have any equipment to work out with.  You don’t really need any.  No excuses.

Truly, if you want to be healthy, you HAVE to find a way to move well.  You MUST fight the tendency to stay sedentary.  You WILL develop more illness and disease from not moving well.  You CAN’T be as healthy as you’re designed to be without appropriate movement.

So, how do we get it done?  It’s really easy.  It can take as little as 10-30 minutes on any given day.  I am sure you can find 10 minutes to do something for your health can’t you?  Of course you can.  Just so you know, I’ve not been in our gym that we have a membership at in over a year.  We put it on hold so that when my son is in town from college we can open it back up for him to use, but we don’t plan on using it much, if at all.  And just this morning, I had a very intense workout that I completed in under 30 minutes with NO equipment.  How?  There’s a lot to say about that, and I might take more than one blog post to get this all in, so stay tuned.

First, understand that we need both major types of exercise.  We need aerobic exercise and we need resistance training.  The great thing is, sometimes those two can be combined and I’ll show you how.  But for starters, let’s think about aerobic exercise. No, you don’t have to run or take a class.  You can just walk.  But you must walk at a pace that makes you breath hard.  When at an optimum cardio level you should maybe find it hard to carry on a conversation with someone while walking.  If you can sing the alphabet all the way through easily while walking, then you’re probably not walking fast enough.  Maybe you can only get to the end of your driveway walking like that because you’re too out of shape, that’s ok.  Do that exercise regularly, then move to walking to the end of the block, then around the block until you can do 20-30 minutes like that.  Remember, it shouldn’t feel like a leisurely stroll, though you may have to start at that level and it’s ok.  Just start where you are.

To make your walk more challenging, use the concept of intervals. After warming up by walking for 2-3 minutes at a good clip, amp it up.  In other words, walk as fast as you can for an interval.  Try for one minute of walking as fast as possible.  Then slow it down to the solid pace you were at for about 3 minutes.  Then go back to the rapid pace.  Do this for 4-8 intervals, keeping the ration of fast walking/slower walking at a 3/1 ratio.  Maybe you can only walk rapidly for 10 seconds, that’s fine.  Just make your recovery time 30 seconds before you amp it back up again.  Do that interval training for only about 20 minutes.  Interval training is more effective than regular cardio where you keep the same pace for 30-45 minutes so you need less.  Note your progress and challenge yourself to do more as you go along.

Ok, for now that’s about it, but let me suggest a free “piece of equipment” to help you in your walking.  Use the free app called “Map My Walk” on your smart phone.  It will track your distance, your time, your average pace and more.  This will help you “see” your progress, and you can “friend” people on the app for accountability and even post your results to social media.  I recommend you DO post it not only for accountability, but also to inspire others to get moving and use the app too.  Life isn’t just about ourselves, but how we can impact those around us too.  I know of several people that started using the app after I started using it and posting my walks.

There’s more to cover on this topic overall, but it will have to wait til next post!

Until next time….Be Well!

Dr. Bruce

Combating Your Sitting Disease

My last post was about the detrimental effects of sitting on our health.  If you missed it, click HERE.  In it I spoke of physical and physiological effects on our bodies.  Hopefully that has spurred your interest in how to solve the issue.  After all, our culture, as I stated, is now designed around sitting. We sit at work and we sit at home.  Oh and in between, we sit while we drive from home to work and back again.

So what do we do???

Start by finding ways to not sit any longer than 30 minutes at a time.  Some of the fitness bands, like the UP band by Jawbone, have a setting that allows it to vibrate on your wrist after “x” amount of time being sedentary.  That would help.  There are software programs that you can download to your computer if you find that your screen time is what keeps you sitting for too long.  One is workrave and another is Breaker.  Those are windows based options.  For those that like Macs, another software is found here called Timeout.  I don’t use either as my job has me up and down all day, never sitting for more than 10-15 minutes.

You can also set an alarm on your phone that repeats every 30 – 60 minutes.  Use that time to go get some water.  Or you can save up any physical paperwork you have that needs to be filed away or brought to someone and do it on your breaks..  You can even just decide that you will stand up and do 25 jumping jacks or squats during that break.  Look up stretches for the neck, upper back, hamstrings and hip flexors to do on your breaks.  All of those muscles need attention if you’re a regular sitter.  Just be sure you’re getting out of your chair to do them.

How about if you get stuck watching sports shows or other TV?  Use those commercials appropriately.  You know you complain about them anyway.  So, when they come on, get up and go do something.  Work in the kitchen.  Walk outside and breathe in some fresher air.  Throw the ball to your dog a few times in the backyard.  Do some of the exercises we spoke about.  Do a plank for 30 seconds to a minute (or however long you can).  Drink some water.  If you drink water regularly, you’ll have other reasons to get up and go (pun intended).

Really, it’s very simple.  Just becoming aware of your sitting habits is the starting point.  More than likely, you have the habit of sitting too much, whether at home or at work or in the car.  Evaluate your days, and choose an appropriate response.

Until next time…. Be Well!

Dr. B

Is Sitting Killing You?

Our entire culture is designed around sitting, and it’s killing us.  Period.  It is being written that sitting is to our generation as smoking was to the previous generation with regards to the one thing we do that most significantly impacts our health negatively.

Think about it.  If you’re near my age (50……yeesh) or older, how much sitting did you do as a child (other than at school)compared to now?  Not much.  We had no large amount of entertainment that would keep us sitting for long periods.  I remember in the summers I was out the door at 9:00, often with a PB and J made to eat out in the woods with my friends.  We’d hike, run, climb, shoot at rabbits, birds, chase each other, play football in the street, play baseball in back yard, walk to the local park, walk to the city pool, walk to baseball practice etc.  We’d return for dinner (or lunch if we hadn’t made the sandwiches), then head back out after dinner til Mom called us in after dark sometime.  It was a 12 hour day for the most part.  12 hours of moving around in some form or fashion.

Now we sit.  And sit.  And sit.

And then, we sit some more.

Kids today have games and iPhones, tablets, laptops, and not to mention the 400 channels on TV to keep them entertained in the seated position.  When I was a kid, Pong came out.  We borrowed it from a friend, played it for a bit, then ran outside. This lack of movement is one of the reasons the current generation of youth are the first generation in the history of mankind expected to have shorter lifespans than their parents.  Think about that for a bit.

As adults, our jobs, even many of our blue collar jobs, revolve around sitting.  We email documents to each other in the office, instead of walking the document to someone else’s office.  We work through lunch, sitting all the while.  Other jobs require extended periods of sitting in our vehicles traveling across town to the next customer.  If we travel for work, we sit in an airport for a couple of hours prior to our flight, then we sit for 2 hours of flying (or more).  We sit in the taxi that takes us to our business meeting, then we sit through meetings, sit through dinner and retire to our hotel room and sit at a desk or on the bed watching TV.

So…. what does this do to us?  I teach my patients it affects us physically and physiologically. I’ll explain these two things here.

Physically, the moment we sit down, our core musculature shuts down.  So it is constantly weakening.  That leaves us susceptible to back pain and injuries.  If you’re like most people, you’re often sitting and looking at a  screen (like now).  You’re on a computer, laptop, tablet or phone.  Your mid back is now hunching forward as is your neck.  This causes consistent stress on the upper back and neck as they work harder to keep your head in an upright position and creates headaches, neck and shoulder pain and burning between the shoulder blades.  It also contributes to the “hump back” and forward head carriage we see in people as they age.  I have seen more and more people with that syndrome at younger and younger ages as my time in practice has progressed.  Sitting like that also makes it very hard to take good full deep breaths.  Trust me…try sitting up straight and taking deep abdominal breaths……..then try it slouching down……’s not very effective.

Physiologically, sitting for extended periods wreaks havoc on you as well.  Prolonged sitting (sitting more than 8 hours in a day) increases your chances of diabetes by 90%.  A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who sat for prolonged periods of time had a higher risk of dying from all causes — even those who exercised regularly. In other words, even if you exercise regularly, you can’t out exercise your excessive sitting.  And, if you sit and DON’T exercise, the effects on you are even worse. Excessive sitting has been linked to dementia, and dangerous blood lipid levels (triglycerides and cholesterol).

And here’s a biggie:  Prolonged sitting, (more than 8 hours/day) has been linked to a 66%t increase in uterine cancer and a 30% increase in colon cancer.  So sitting increases your chances of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancers, dementia….and most likely even more than that.  That is just plain no bueno.  And chances are, you ARE one of those sitting for those extended times.

So we’ve established how bad sitting is for you…… what?  That’s a great question.  I’m glad you asked.  I’ll touch on that in my next post.

Until then….Be Well!