Lifestyle Stress & Healthy Choices
Concerned about stress? Plum tuckered out? Turns out you're in good company.
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Here's a fascinating bit of research from the UK. Before we begin, let's take a quick moment to place it into context. We learned several months ago that the Brits are healthier than we are over here in the States.
So it stands to reason they may be on to something. Right?
According to the latest news, the average British citizen and the government are slightly at odds about which healthy living considerations are most important.
The government thinks people should be interested in not-smoking, exercise, and eating a balanced diet. There's no doubt that these behaviors do have a positive impact on health. However even the JAMA article we just referenced — comparing health in the US and UK — said outright that those behaviors didn't appear to account for the difference in our health results.
Instead, researchers raised a suspicion that lifestyle stress had something to do with it.
Wouldn't you know, lifestyle stress has come up again! Turns out that's what the average British citizen is concerned about. Not smoking, the effects of second-hand smoke, or eating healthy. Not at all. They're worried about lack of sleep, fatigue, and stress of their daily routine.
In fact, 2/3 of those polled are worried about the impact of social and lifestyle choices on their health. Where concern about understanding what constitutes a healthy diet rates a measly 6% interest.
Those Brits are Smart!
Let's think this through. When we're stressed and fatigued, what kind of health choices do we tend to make? Great, empowered ones? Or those that will help us get through the day?
We cope with the effects of stress by eating easy-to-come-by comfort foods & indulging in other earthly distractions. Not by munching on a plate of leafy greens and going out for a brisk jog.
The Brits themselves have got the order of things straight. They know that in order to create the environment in which healthy choices are likely to occur, they've got to get a handle on their stress first. And maybe get some sleep.
Looks like the powers that be might just be off a step.
As for this side of the pond...
So for my American readers, what does this mean for us?
I think it's pretty clear. We know from the first study that the British are, generally speaking, healthier than we are. We know that presumed risk factors like smoking, drinking, and obesity do not account for the difference.
It seems safe to suggest that we're in even less control of our stress than they are! And we know from the second survey that they're concerned about it.
Presumably, so are we. It's just that nobody asked us those same questions.
So what do you think? Should we take some concrete steps to get a handle on our stress and snuggle down for a good night's sleep? Would that perhaps lead us to that resourceful state in which we make healthier lifestyle choices — all around?
Sounds good to me!
(Banks, et al) Disease and Disadvantage in the United States and in England. JAMA Vol 295 No. 17, May 3, 2006.
Elizabeth Eckert can help you explore how simple everyday choices create health - or undermine even the best of intentions. With a background that ranges from energy medicine to structural bodywork to developmental psychology, this "Stick-To-It Coach" has the experience to support you in creating the healthiest possible expression of — you!
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