This was re-posted from the Australian Spinal Research Foundation article 9 March 2017.
Depression is a worldwide issue. To give you some idea, it’s the number one psychological disorder in the western world1. And not unlike the common cold, it doesn’t discriminate between age groups or gender assignment. Depression is growing in all age groups, the largest increase noted in the younger generations, in our teenagers. At the rate of knots this psychological issue is developing, by 2020, it is estimated to be the second most debilitating condition behind heart disease.
Think about it, the neuroscientists at the University of Bern2, have. Traditional treatment for depression is usually with antidepressant medication and psychotherapy. But the study published in CNS & Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets, found that sport and physical activity partially encounter the same neurophysiological changes as antidepressants.
There are several types of medication for the treatment of depression. Most of them work on blocking the reuptake of the neurotransmitters we use to make us feel happy and upbeat. By blocking the reabsorption of serotonin – “the happy hormone”, dopamine – “the motivator hormone” and norepinephrine – “adrenaline”, a person has more of these targeted neurochemicals actively bathing their brains and producing positive feelings.
The researchers conducting the study, found that sport and physical activity brought about similar changes in the brain, that are normally only achieved through antidepressant drugs2. Not only did it affect the brains capacity to absorb serotonin and dopamine but epinephrine levels also increased. As a by-product of the surge in these neurochemicals, it was noted that the level of neurogenesis (new brain cells) in the brain also increased. This increase in neurotransmitters was noted to prevent the death of brain cells in the hippocampus, the area of our brain responsible for our emotional stability and memory. It’s also the part of the brain that is very vulnerable to stress. Low levels of neurogenesis in the hippocampus have been linked with depression and other psychiatric disorders.3 Researchers also noted a reduction of the stress hormone cortisol. Overall the effect on the brain of exercise was similar to the brain chemistry changes we see with psychotropic drug therapy.
The researchers found a large number of meta-analyses showed a positive effect of sport and physical activity on depression. Whilst the research supports that exercise is an effective tool for reducing symptoms of depression the study did not conclude how often or how long one should exercise.
“Unfortunately, the meta-analyses do not allow any conclusions as to how often and how long weekly sport should be pursued,” says Mirko Wegner, lead author in the study. “But one can see that sport and physical activity alleviate depression. For instance, we were also able to determine that the effectiveness of sport is greater with depressive disorders than with anxiety disorders.”
The obvious benefit of exercise is the lack of side effects so often encountered when using drug treatments to combat depression. It’s also can be more cost effective than medication and there’s the added benefit of all the wonderful aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise has benefits on most systems of the human body, your brain, your body and your longevity. So what are you waiting for? Go hit the treadmill and enjoying all those extra neurochemicals and additional brain cells.
 Seligman, M. E. P. (1990) Learned Optimism.
 Effects of Exercise on Anxiety and Depression Disorders: Review of Meta- Analyses and Neurobiological Mechanisms. Mirko Wegner, Ingo Helmich, Sergio Machado, Antonio Nardi, Oscar Arias-Carrion, Henning Budde. CNS & Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets, 2014; 13 (6): 1002 DOI: 10.2174/1871527313666140612102841
 Major depression: a role for hippocampal neurogenesis? Lee MM, Reif A, Schmitt AG. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2013;14:153-79. doi: 10.1007/7854_2012_226. Review.
There’s a new magic number. 39. That’s the number of hours you should be working in any given working week. That is, unless you want to get sick. That’s a substantial number less than the 49-hour week limit that was brought in around 80 years ago as the internationally recognised number of what a person should be slogging out for a wage.
A new study, published in the journal of Social Science and Medicine1 has found that working beyond 39 hours a week puts employees at risk of developing mental health problems. With almost a quarter of Australians working longer than 39 hours per week. Using data from 8,000 working adults as part of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in an Australian Survey.
When the study assessed men and women separately they found the numbers didn’t add up the same way. The healthy work limit for men was higher around 47-hours per week on average. This was substantially lower for women who came in around 34-hours per week once all their other commitments were taken into account. Men generally spent much less time on household or domestic responsibilities than women do.
“Women are doing other work – much more extra work outside the labour market,” said co-author of the study, Professor Lyndall Strazdins of ANU.
The researchers believe what’s at the core here is that we need to have a cultural shift away from thinking that working longer hours means you’re doing well at your job. Strazdins advice after reviewing the study was to suggest that employers look at ways to support their staff to work shorter hours.
“My message is to their managers and our policy makers to start a national debate on how long is too long,” she said.
Moreover, she pointed out, that an employee shouldn’t feel they have to work long hours in order to continue to remain employed.
In some ways it’s a case of monkey see, monkey do. If everyone else is working long hours and the cultural expectation of the company is that one works long hours, then the changes need to come from the top. However, one only needs to see the effects in such studies as these of people suffering from mental health issues, anxiety, depression to realise that whilst working is important, so too is the capacity to live a healthy life.
Is it perhaps a case of working smarter not harder?
We can also look at implementing successful ways to negate stress in our bodies, from making sure you’re adjusted regularly with chiropractic care, eating well, yoga, exercise, meditation and planned leisure time. If we wait for others to start taking care of our well-being first, it may be too late to restore the damage. Preventative care now, may well halt the effects of long work hours and poor work life balance before it takes hold.
- Retro foods are on trend!Canned or smoked fish (tuna).Cold soups such as Borscht and Vichychoise.
- Fruit and Vegie Spin-off DishesCauliflower Rice, Banana Sushi, Watermelon Jerky
- The Micro-Mediterranean DietYou’ll see food and recipes from places like Portugal and Spain including tinned Sardines and Fava Bean Hummus.
- Salt Free SpicesUsing Oregano, Cumin, Clove, Ginger and Paprika instead of salt.
- Neutral FoodWhite Asparagus, Cauliflower, Eggs, Tapioca
- Grain packed BreakfastsLook for foods containing Sorghum, Chickpea and Almond Flours, Buckwheat and Teff.
- Seeds, Seeds, SeedsSesame, Chia, Sunflower and Flax. A must try newbie, Watermelon Seeds!!
- Fermented FoodsFood and Drinks like Miso, Kimchi and Sauerkraut
1.Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol and Nicotine:
Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and so increase your stress levels.Alcohol is a depressant when taken in large quantities, but acts as a stimulant in smaller quantities. Therefore using alcohol as a way to alleviate stress is not helpful.
2. Get Moving, Get active
When you feel stressed and tense, go for a brisk walk in fresh air. Try to incorporate some physical activity into your daily routine on a regular basis, either before or after work, or at lunchtime. Regular physical activity will also improve the quality of your sleep.
3.Get more sleep
Make sure that your bedroom is a tranquil oasis with no reminders of the things that cause you stress. Avoid caffeine during the evening, as well as excessive alcohol if you know that this leads to disturbed sleep. Stop doing any mentally demanding work several hours before going to bed so that you give your brain time to calm down. Try taking a warm bath or reading a calming, undemanding book for a few minutes to relax your body, tire your eyes and help you forget about the things that worry you.You should also aim to go to bed at roughly the same time each day so that your mind and body get used to a predictable bedtime routine.
Countless studies have proven that meditation triggers in the body a relaxation response that is the polar opposite of the physiological stress response (fight or flight). Meditation is non-invasive, requires almost no effort, and need only take a few minutes time each day or even each week to reap its rewards. Try our partners at Centred Meditation, www.centredmeditation.com.au
5.Talk to someone
Stress can cloud your judgement and prevent you from seeing things clearly. Talking things through with a friend, work colleague, or even a trained professional, can help you find solutions to your stress and put your problems into perspective.
6.Keep a stress diary
Note down the date, time and place of each stressful episode, and note what you were doing, who you were with, and how you felt both physically and emotionally. Give each stressful episode a stress rating (on, say, a 1-10 scale) and use the diary to understand what triggers your stress and how effective you are in stressful situations. This will enable you to avoid stressful situations and develop better coping mechanisms.
7.Be solution focused
One problem-solving technique involves writing down the problem and coming up with as many possible solutions as you can. Decide on the good and bad points of each one and select the best solution. Write down each step that you need to take as part of the solution: what will be done, how will it be done, when will it be done, who is involved and where will it take place.
8.Manage your time
Make a list of all the things that you need to do and list them in order of genuine priority. Note what tasks you need to do personally and what can be delegated to others to do. Record which tasks need to be done immediately, in the next week, in the next month, or when time allows.
By editing what might have started out as an overwhelming and unmanageable task list, you can break it down into a series of smaller, more manageable tasks spread out over a longer time frame, with some tasks removed from the list entirely through delegation.
9.Learn to say ‘no’
A common cause of stress is having too much to do and too little time in which to do it. And yet in this situation, many people will still agree to take on additional responsibility. Learning to say “No” to additional or unimportant requests will help to reduce your level of stress, and may also help you develop more self-confidence.
10.Get your spine and nervous system checked
We adapt to stress through our nervous system. Your ability to adapt is determined by the health and function in your spine. At CHIRO H3 we assess your adaptive capacity through our space certified technology, the CORE SCORE. Look under services for more information.
Indeed, age is just a number. And happy people know this for sure.
They don’t let this ever-increasing number define who they are and what they do. They just do whatever it is they want!
Life is short. Before you know it, age catches up. You might as well make full use of life before your body actually reflects your age.
On a more candid note, I know of friends who are happy because they date people younger than them. They actually found true love despite the age gap.
2. CARING ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK OR SAY
This is one of the biggest blocks to our happiness.
Happy people don’t care for that. They recognise that the words of others are never accurate and should never judge them for who they are and what they’re capable of.
Instead, they block it out. They don’t allow such false illusions to get in the way of what it is they want to do or how they feel. Only what they think of themselves matter.
That’s not to say happy people are unemployed.
The key idea is: You’re not your job.
Sure, a job is important for stability and survival in today’s society. But other than that, your job scope and status at work should be left at the office. If you don’t, it’s going to seep into your everyday life and you’d end up feeling tired, bored or stressed out.
What matters more is your talent, passion and outlook on life. Allowing your job to take over any of that would only mean you’re allowing a label to define who you are.
Fear is not real. Happy people know that.
With that, they know that the nervousness and anxiety that supposedly comes with fear are not real. They block it out, get out of their comfort zone, feel a little crazy and just do what they want anyway.
There’s just no point holding back in life just because you feel a little scared.
5. THE NEGATIVE STATE OF THE WORLD
There’s a lot of disturbing stuff going on out there. War, protests, riots, animals going extinct or innocent people having bad things happen to them.
Happy people don’t deny any of these, but they do a good job in making sure it doesn’t affect how they feel.
The happiest people I know simply focus on trying to make the world a better place, one small step at a time. They may not be able to create a revolution overnight, but they know that by showing a little kindness and compassion to our fellow man, the world is that much more positive already.
Don’t let the negative in life get to you. It’s not your fault others have made it this way.
6. TOXIC PEOPLE
“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with”.
Ever had to deal with an annoying friend or somebody who’s just really self-destructive?
Dump them. It’s time to create a positive environment for yourself.
Happy people gain happiness from the people they are with and not just from within. This is an amazing life hack that most people overlook. If you’re feeling unhappy, take a look around. Sometimes it’s the people that are just dragging you down.
7. THE PAST OR THE FUTURE
The past does not exist, neither does the future.
If you want to be happy, you’ve got to let go of the past and move on with life. Learn from it and grow from it, then make sure you don’t repeat the same mistakes.
As for the future, happy people pretty much let go of expectations. .
When you let go of the past and future, then you can truly enjoy the present.
8. EXPECTING ANYTHING IN RETURN
Start doing things for the sake of doing things. Help others for the sake of being compassionate. The true reward is knowing that you’ve added positivity in others.
Happy people let go of always wanting something in return. That’s how they never get disappointed.
Complaining is the result of an unhappy life. Sometimes things don’t go your way. You can’t escape that.
But complaining is useless. Happy people know that. They’re instead, grateful for what they have and then they try to find the solution with a positive mindset.
10. CONFORMING TO SOCIETY’S STANDARDS
Just like age, there’re a lot of labels out there that try to define who we are. Expectations are always thrown at us and it can be pretty overwhelming at times.
Happy people don’t care for any of that. They take time their time. They look within and do what they want in life.
This is how happiness is created: Not doing things you don’t care for.
By DrJelena Rudic
Tip#1: Develop and Optimistic Point of View.
Think about what’s possible as opposed to what you can’t do. Optimists are naturally resilient even in the face of adversity as they know something better will come from a challenging situation or experience.
Tip#2: Use positive language.
The language we use effects our Physiology and how we feel about ourselves and others.
Tip#3: Be Altruistic.
Develop a compassion to serve that is greater than the compulsion to survive (J Parker). Serving others makes us feel good about ourselves.
Tip #4: Get firm on your values.
Have a clear idea of what you value in life and make decisions based on your values.
Tip #5. Use Humour
Lighten up your approach. It’s good for your happy hormones and helps build resilience.
Tip#6: Develop strong social connections.
Having a sense of belonging to a group or team gives us a feeling of support and emotional resilience.
Tip#7:Get a Mentor.
Find someone who has travelled the path and can be your sound board. They help keep you accountable to your goals and moving forward in life.
Tip#8: Be clear on your purpose.
If your mission is clear, you will see that the little bumps in the road are just part of getting you to your destination.
Tip#9: Meditate, Eat Well and Exercise
I don’t think anyone can question the importance of these 3 things. Most importantly they influence our energy and therefore how well we function in life.
Tip#10: Look after your spine and nervous system.
It’s the system that controls every cell, tissue and organ in the body. Your ability to adapt to stress and the environment is co-ordinated by the nervous system.