Posture anxiety and stress

In this post I want to talk a bit about posture…not the kind of Victorian deportment stuff, although that does come into it. What I really want to talk about is the link between posture and how we feel…I think there is in fact a much greater link than people realise.

Firstly, let’s get down to some basic physiology and anatomy…your spine carries all the nerve messages from your brain to the rest of your body, this includes parts of your body which are very important to your mental health, such as your stomach (which in itself produces neurotransmitters although medical science is not entirely sure why) and your adrenal glands. Your spine is very important and you need it to be functioning properly. A poorly aligned spine, brought on by bad posture, can put pressure on your spinal column and cause it to work less efficiently. It’s not just back pain you have to worry about, it’s also anxiety, depression, insomnia, stress and tension headaches, panic attacks etc.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can blame all your emotional problems on poor posture, but it may well be a (significant) part of the problem. And solving posture problems can be a great help towards feeling better.

So, how does one go about improving posture? You can of course seek the help of an osteopath or a chiropractor, and this should definitely be done if you are experiencing pain or have serious postural difficulties.


If however you want to feel more confident and relaxed, and have less anxiety and stress, sleep better and improve your mood, then some simple posture exercises might help you get into the good habits you need re-acquire.

Try standing in front of a mirror. Gently push your shoulders back and down, don’t force anything or push to the point of pain or discomfort. Next, push your hips forward, again, don’t exaggerate it, just push them forward so your bottom is tucked in. Now, without pushing your chest out like a sergeant-major, try to imagine your ears becoming aligned with the centre of your shoulders, hips and ankles, so they all pass through one vertical line.

Now, imagine your body is a string of pearls. Imagine that the top pearl is being held up, this is your head. Imagine it floating up to the ceiling, pulling you taller. As before, don’t force anything and stay within what is comfortable, good posture takes time and practice. So as your head floats up, imagine the rest of your body as the other pearls, pulled gently towards the ground by gravity.


Hold this position for as long as feels comfortable, but more importantly come back to it in your daily life as often as you can imagine, as you walk, work, sit and eat. The more you do it the more habit-forming it will be and the better your posture will become.

Omega Oil and Anxiety

The use of Omega 3/6/9 oils to combat mental health problems such as anxiety and depression have been well documented of late. But unfortunately there is still some confusion with many people not getting the benefits they are hoping for. It is thought that depression, anxiety and panic could all be lessened by the use of omega oils.

In order to get relief from anxiety through taking omega oils several factors are needed.

 

Firstly, the right dose is important. Secondly the ratio of the oils is important, and thirdly the length of treatment.

It is a minefield trying to work out how much omega oils to take. There are numerous studies which discuss this and the results can be confusing, but basically it seems that omega 3 is normally the oil which is lacking from the diet and that this can be addressed through dietary changes and supplementation. The two key ingredients of omega 3 are EPA and DHA. EPA seems to be the more important and about 1 gram per day of EPA is considered to be the right amount. It is also clear that more isn’t necessarily better.one study found that those on 1 gram did better than those on 4 grams (in an experiment tackling depression), so there is no point or benefit in overdosing. Labels on omega 3 containing supplements are highly misleading, with manufacturers often proclaiming their products to be “high strength”. This is often rubbish. It is important to seek out the few products on the market that offer reasonable doses of EPA and take enough to get 1 gram a day. This is almost impossible when a supermarket brand might contain say only 35mg of EPA (you would need to take almost thirty doses at once!). So check the label before you buy! I would also take the oil twice a day with meals.it is apparently better absorbed over two doses.

 

The ration of Omega 3 to 6 in your diet is important. Again, there is not an agreed figure but a ration of 2:1 omega 6 to omega 3 is probably fine. A omega 6:3 ration of 20:1 is not uncommon but totally unhealthy (omega 6 is far too available in modern diets compared to omega 3). You can buy supplements which have this ratio built in, and this makes life easier.

 

Length of treatment is hard to define, but if anxiety or depression have been major factors in your life then you can well expect three to six months to pass before you feel results, which will creep up on you slowly. Some people claim to have seen results in just a few weeks, everyone is different after all. The brain is using these oils to rebuild and replenish, which is a slow task! However much research seems very promising!