Updated on April 7, 2022
Good Quality of Life QOL
Stress in daily lives
Why is chronic stress unhealthy?
Unhealthy stress coping methods
Healthy stress coping methods
Sleep, relaxation, rest
Eat healthily and mindfully
Bond with a pet
Talk to a friend or journaling
Get involved in community or volunteer
Seek professional help if needed
Long term sustainable lifestyle habits
Our philosophy is that everyone should maintain and sustain a good quality of life – by managing stress, eating well and healthy, being physically active, mentally healthy and having good quality sleep.
Good Quality of Life QOL
One of the necessities of good quality of life is being healthy, physically and mentally in our environment.
This means that you can perform necessities of life i.e. move, eat, drink, sleep, eliminate while experiencing minimal or no physical pain or mental distress.
We all need to keep ourselves from getting injured, falling ill, manage our daily lives stressors and keep stress in check.
This means we’ll need to stay as healthy as possible.
In Toronto, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be challenging. Within the construct current infrastructure, the busy and fast-paced lifestyle, we need to negotiate life to keep ourselves healthy.
Apart from various factors that are outside of our control, to name a few; infrastructure (e.g.: clean safe drinking water, exposure to hazardous chemicals or radioactive agents), genetics (which some of us are more predisposed to certain illnesses or disorders), or social issues (which some us are presented with unstable household), in most case, we can make choices that help preserve our health.
One of the most prevalent factors which can negatively affect our health is the prolonged activation of stress. This is known as chronic stress or chronic distress.
For brevity in this literature, we’ll refer to the distress as stress.
Stress in daily lives
In our daily lives, we are inundated with stressors; stress from work, school, home projects, financial stress, stress from caring for an elderly family member, stress from managing child/children especially during the pandemic quarantine. If these stressors consume our lives constantly over a long period of time, they are called chronic stress. Chronic stress is detrimental to the well-being of our health.
Why is chronic stress unhealthy?
When we exercise, we place short bursts of stress on ourselves so, our bodies can grow and adapt to new challenges; that is healthy for our bodies.
However, chronic stress is unhealthy and can cause the following:
- Physical symptoms:
.... Read moreWhen we are experiencing a stressful situation, our muscles get tense, especially in the neck, shoulders and can cause tension headaches and/or in the back causing backaches. When muscles are tight or taut, they are susceptible to injury. In severe cases, we can feel achy, discomfort, pain from extreme stiffness.
- Mental health symptoms:
.... Read moreRepeated exposures to stress can cause the feeling of agitation, depression and feeling socially distant, anxiety, feeling helplessness. Psychologically, we all have our unique ways to cope with stress. Some of us will resort to emotional eating or stress eating, alcohol, smoking, socially and physically withdrawn.
- Physiological symptoms:
.... Read moreAn extended state of stress can cause the body to develop unhealthy physiological symptoms:
- Cardiovascular issues: High blood pressure, heart attacks
- Gastrointestinal issues: irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis, ulcerative colitis
- Disrupts hormonal functions: Sexual disorders, unexplained weight gain which, potentially leads to metabolic syndrome e.g.: type-2 diabetes, low energy, aches or pain, memory loss, etc.
- Susceptible to illnesses due to increased stress placed onto the immune system resulting in inflammation, malignancies for increased risk of developing cancer, autoimmune pathologies (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis).
- Sleep deprivation
.... Read moreStress, to some people, can affect sleep volume or quality. The constant state of high awareness or hypervigilance can keep us up at night or negatively affect our sleep quality. Sleep deprivation negatively affects our health, mentally and physically, therefore causing our daily functions to decline.
Different individuals cope with stress in different ways. A lot of us get into a viscous cycle of unhealthy ways to cope with stress.
Unhealthy stress coping methods:
- Stress eating or emotional eating
.... Read more
When some of us eat to suppress negative emotions, it is called stress eating or emotional eating. Not everyone eats to deal with stress, only some do.
Emotional stress eaters tend to reach for food even though they don’t feel hungry. Usually, the food choices are not fresh leafy greens or garden salad but their preferences are commonly comfort foods, namely, pizza, poutine, ice-cream, cookies, tourtiere, cakes, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, etc. They are usually high in sugar, fat content, and always excessively salty. As comfort foods are often highly palatable, they always provide a temporary feeling of well-being, satiety and elevate mood. They stimulate brain reward centres and make the person feel content.
Very often, emotional eating drives the person to consume large portions of food. One serving of the food is never satisfying.
So, the effect long term binge eating is weight gain and is usually accompanied by a host of metabolic syndromes (e.g., type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, excess abdominal fat). The additional weight gained will place extra physical stress on bones and joints resulting in joint aches, increased risk of osteoarthritis and other physical injuries.
On the opposite scale, some people lose appetite when stressed. The “fight or flight” response kicks in and suppresses the hunger sensation.
Usually, the person who is considered an “undereater” will nibble on anything that s/he can easily access, usually unhealthy snacks, or beverages and put off having a full wholesome meal until they feel they have completed a task at hand. By doing so they feel rewarded for having achieved a mini-milestone and therefore they feel at ease of having a meal. However, the long-term effects of undereating can lead to stomach ulcers and unhealthy weight loss.
One of the many reasons some people consume alcohol is to temporarily escape from the reality of stressful situations usually, resulting in binge drinking. Apart from the socially negative dramatic effects of intoxication, the consequences of alcoholism are its detriments to health and unhealthy weight gain.
- Substance abuse relapse
Substance abuse relapse including drug, alcohol, painkillers relapses can be triggered by stress. The substance user prefers to numb and alleviate the stress of negative emotions through substance use. Without a doubt, substance abuse is unhealthy and potentially fatal.
It is not uncommon to encounter someone who is socially withdrawn. Most likely the individual is depressed and is inclined to curl up away in private. The person may lose interest in activities including physical activities.
So, to maintain a healthy lifestyle, we will need to manage and keep stress under control in sustainable and healthy ways.
How to cope with stress in healthy ways?
Below are some of the healthy ways we can respond to chronic stress:
- Work – life balance
The overwhelming burden of juggling work and personal life priorities can give you sleepless nights. If you are spreading yourself too thin, it’s time to step back and re-evaluate your situation. You may need to give more time towards your personal priorities: health, family life, you may have to speak to your work team members to bring in more resources to shorten the to-do lists, clearly communicate boundaries between work hours and time for personal/family life. The lines between work and life are getting more blurred now as we are now moving more towards working remotely from home. Instead of a work desk at the office, your work desk at home may be your family dinner table. When you leave your work desk, you should unplug from work-related text messages, emails.
Brian Dyson, former President and CEO of Coca Cola Enterprises in his commencement speech at Georgia Tech Sept 1991 reminded us of the importance of family, health, spirit, friends with the following metaphor of juggling rubber balls and glass balls of life:
"Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them - work, family, health, friends and spirit - and you're keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls - family, health, friends and spirit - are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life."
Therefore, finding a work-life balance is crucial in sustaining and managing stress for good physical and mental health.
- Sleep, Relaxation, Rest
Everyone needs downtime from work, school, home projects, etc. We are more effective in school, more productive at work and more engaged/emotionally present with our family if we get enough sleep, well-rested.
- Get enough good quality sleep
Sleep is an essential function for our bodies. When we sleep the organs, tissues, brains in our bodies regenerate, repair, grow so that when we wake up, we are refreshed. Anyone who is sleep-deprived will be impaired cognitively, have difficulty concentrating, feels agitated, and be less productive.
Relaxation can be as routine as taking deep breaths. Deep diaphragmatic breathing can help slow down the rhythm of fast pounding heartbeats. Relaxation can be in a form of leisurely stroll in the nearby park/beach, bonding time with families, your children, spouse, enjoying movies, music, playing games, playing with your young children.
- Get therapeutic massage treatments
Massage treatments can help you relax your tense muscles so they are less likely to get injured. During massage therapy treatment, you can feel relaxed and possibly fall asleep, and that will temporarily reduce the tension and stress you experienced.
In Ontario, the costs for massage therapy provided by a Registered Massage Therapist RMT, are covered by workplace extended health benefits.
- Take a holiday
Take a short holiday and break the stress cycle so that you can get a mental break and recuperate.
- Get enough good quality sleep
- Exercise regularly
It is widely known that regular physical exercise helps everyone to maintain physical health. More importantly, regular exercise helps with the management of chronic stress. There are numerous research studies that show the association of exercise in helping individuals to better cope with stress.
From a neurochemical perspective, when in stressful episodes the body produces stress hormones called adrenaline and cortisol. By exercising, we can burns off the effects of adrenaline and cortisol, therefore, reducing stress. Additionally, exercise stimulates the production of another hormone called endorphins in the brain. Endorphin is a mood-boosting and natural painkiller.
So, exercise has many positive benefits: burns off the effects of stress hormones, elevate mood and creates a generally optimistic outlook, in addition to reaping the benefits of physical health, reducing the chance of getting serious illnesses, improving energy levels.
- Eat healthily and mindfully
Mindless eating habits especially during stressful situations are unhealthy. Good dietary habits include wholesome and nutritious food choices. Balanced nutrition choices will help in reducing overeating and staving off cravings and binge eating.
Be educated on the nutritional content of food items that you choose. Some food that appears healthy may have added sugar in its ingredients. For example, orange juice just by itself is healthy with lots of vitamin C and water content. However, some orange juice that is sold in grocery stores or on supermarket shelves is laden with added sugar. So, the wiser choice is to eat the fruit orange rather than to drink orange juice from the supermarket shelves or fast-food, or buffet restaurants.
Fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, fresh meat, fresh seafood/fish are better choices than preserved vegetables, meats, canned tuna.
Overeating is another mindless eating habit. Not realizing the amount of food portion is the main culprit of weight gain.
- Bond with a pet
Bonding with a pet tends to reduce stress. The research on the benefits human to animal interaction is rather new.
Currently, some of the studies have shown evidence that point toward interacting with a pet helps reduce stress and blood pressure. Additionally, bonding with a pet can improve the feeling of social support, reduce loneliness.
- Talk to a good friend, journaling
Talk about the issues/stress that you may have with a trusted friend or write your thoughts in your private journal. These are some of the ways that some people find helpful in coping with stress.
- Get involved in a community or volunteer.
Redirecting your attention to volunteering and helping someone in need can help you take your mind off the stress that you may be experiencing. The act of giving and helping others helps to reduce stress, combat depression, give you a sense of purpose and belonging and provide a sense of fulfilment and joy.
- If needed seek professional counselling help
If needed, seek the help of professional counselling for example cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help you resolve issues.
If managing stress is challenging, you are not alone. Taking steps to address causes of stress and how to manage them is important in maintaining good health.
We, at Personal Trainer Toronto, recommend that everyone should address or resolve causes of stress prior to getting into our personalized one-on-one exercise program. Even though we believe exercise is great for stress relief, a personal training exercise program will not solve the cause of constant stressors or chronic stress.
It is common knowledge that being overweight or obese is detrimental to health and well-being. As explained in the previous paragraphs, chronic stress, emotional eating, overeating, mindless eating can cause weight gain.
We will recommend resolving stress-causing issues prior to embarking on any weight loss program. Metaphorically, we need to patch the leak of the bucket so we are not fruitlessly working to try to fill up a leaky bucket
Nutritional habits weigh heavily in any weight loss program. Everyone is unique in nutritional needs in successful weight management efforts.
Different individuals differ in the sensitivity spectrum towards a certain nutrient especially, the sensitivity of carbohydrate macro-nutrients.
Any binge eating episodes are symptoms of underlying emotional or psychological causes. The causes should be addressed prior to the issue becoming routine and forming into a lifestyle habit.
Daily food intake should include entirely wholesome food choices i.e., fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, meat, seafood, grains.
However, our busy lifestyle can be limiting to our healthy diet pursuit. Therefore, we should strive to reduce highly processed food, pre-packed frozen dinners.
Water is an important nutrient for our bodily functions and overall health. Water helps our bodies to maintain temperature, blood circulation, transport nutrients to muscles, remove waste materials. Severe dehydration can result in dizziness, heatstroke. The effects of prolonged and repeated bouts of dehydration can result in kidney failure, kidney stones, urinary tract infections.
During physical training, we will custom design exercises that challenge and don’t be surprised that your muscles are the next day.
Muscle soreness or DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).... Read more
The morning after your first exercise session, you will feel soreness in muscles and probably you can barely get out of bed. The type of muscles soreness is called DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. This is absolutely normal and there’s nothing wrong with you. Muscle soreness is a normal side effect of physical exercise. The soreness is due to inflammation in the muscle fibres. It is part of the stimulus to regenerate the muscle fibres after micro-tears during physical exercise.
As a result, the muscles will rebuild stronger in anticipation of encountering a similar challenge in the future.
Good body mechanics and habits.... Read more
Our goal is to have everyone execute movements with proper body mechanics. Good body mechanics is when the body is in position and alignment that produces the most output with the least effort input. Therefore, having good body mechanics improves leverage and minimizes injury risks.
For example, when doing the squat exercise, it is safer to push a weight upward using the legs, buttock, core muscles with your spine kept upright rather than pushing a weight upwards with your spine leaning forward. It is more effective to squat through the full range of motion which is as close as possible to the ground with an upright spinal alignment. Moving through the full range of motion of the joint is the most effective way to train and improve movement habits, increase strength and flexibility with fewer injury risks and mimic closely the movements in the activities of daily living.
If the exercise selected is too difficult to achieve, we will introduce another simpler exercise. We won’t have you proceed further in the exercise with incorrect form. Incorrect form can potentially result in injury.
Compound functional training for activities of daily living.... Read more
Our goal is to have everyone be functional in their movements for activities of daily living, ADL.
Therefore, the programs we offer are geared towards functional training mimicking ADL.
Therapeutic exercise.... Read more
We will prescribe exercises of therapeutic nature to help address potential issues in movement gait, postural imbalance, restricted range of motion, ROM, e.g., tight hip flexors, weakness in some key structural areas can lead to the high probability of back injury, or weakness in rotator cuff muscles may lead to bicipital tendonitis close to the shoulder joints.
As our team consists of a veteran martial arts coach, a massage therapist, a licensed Essentrics coach, a former dancer, we have the experience and skill set to improve functional strength and mobility, introduce exercises to help address various physical issues mentioned.
Long-term sustainable lifestyle habits
We believe anyone should be able to sustain a healthy lifestyle habit to set you to success. Although effective, if the plan is unsustainable, your willpower will wane and eventually, you will, as they say in the proverbial sense, fall off the wagon!
If the habit is too difficult to achieve, it is recommended to seek professional help to resolve issues that present roadblocks for healthy lifestyle habits.
For information about private one-to-one customized physical fitness training programs, please click on Contact Now! button
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If you have workplace health benefits or extended health coverage, you can offset the cost of the massage therapy sessions.
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