When was the last time you powered down your phone or laptop? Do you often check messages when you find yourself with downtime? Binge watching TV shows via Netflix? Do you find yourself packing an iPad when heading on vacation?
This upcoming weekend may be for you. The folks at Reboot are about to launch their 5th annual “National Day of Unplugging,” which takes up sundown to sundown, March 6-7, 2015 (Saturday to Sunday).
“We increasingly miss out on the important moments of our lives as we pass the hours with our noses buried in our iPhones and BlackBerry’s, chronicling our every move through Facebook and Twitter and shielding ourselves from the outside world with the bubble of “silence” that our earphones create.” (via National Day of Unplugging )
If you recognize that in yourself – or your friends, families or colleagues— Reboot invites you to join National Day of Unplugging by signing the Unplug pledge and reassigning that time to “connect with the people in your street, neighborhood and city, have an uninterrupted meal or read a book to your child.”
Why Unplug? Your Cortisol Levels May Depend on It
Now is the time to take time for yourself – no one is going to do it for you. Even those who have nutrition, exercise, and supplementation under control can suffer from increased long-term health risks due to chronic stress.
If your stress-to-relaxation ratio isn’t in balance, you might consider getting your cortisol levels checked. (we’ll tell you how at the end of this post)
2 Important Facts About Cortisol
- Cortisol is good—in small doses: You’ve probably heard cortisol referred to as the “stress hormone.” Your adrenal glands, perched right atop your kidneys, make cortisol in an attempt to help your body handle stressful situations. And while a little spike of cortisol is good in response to short-term stressors, it starts to become a problem when the body starts making too much, too often.
- High cortisol is an overreaction to chronic stress. If you’re used to spending your days worrying, overworking, or just generally freaking out, your adrenals try to help out by hitting you with frequent doses of fight-or-flight energy.
Many of your body’s normal processes can get interrupted by these bursts—they’re placed on the back-burner while you tend to your “dangerous” situation. This can lead to a number of unhealthy issues, such as low immune response, systemic damage to the circulatory system, weakened bones/osteoporosis, and even belly fat.
6 Ways You Can Unplug
Reboot is encouraging participants to share what you will do when you UNPLUG. You can also download your own “I UNPLUG TO _____ poster,” take a photo with it and upload your image to NationalDayofUnplugging.com, and even share your picture on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, to get the word out.
Here are some ideas from our team on how you can re-invent that time you find when you unplug that weekend – or any day, really.
1. Be active with others
Taking time to de-stress can be about reimagining conventional rituals in the pursuit of a healthier you. Instead of “grabbing drinks” or “getting a bite to eat,” with others, try offering up something fun and active in its place. WellnessFX practitioner Dr. Jeffrey Edman suggests a family walk around the neighborhood. Not only will it burn calories and get the metabolism going, but it can also lead to memorable conversations and maybe even become a regular occurrence. You could also try heading to the nearest rock climbing gym, going salsa dancing, or exploring a new neighborhood in your area on foot.
Consider scheduling yourself to meditate for a few minutes of that day. According to New York physician Dr. Kulkarni, medication automatically reduces heart rate, lowers blood pressure, reduces muscle tension, and improves breathing.
Even 10 deep breaths can relieve immediate stress, says WellnessFX practitioner Janelle Deeds. Dr. Andrew Weill, a physician who focuses on integrative medicine, states that “practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.”
A recent Harris poll reported the strong link between volunteering and better physical, mental and emotional health:
- 76% of respondents said that they have felt physically healthier as a result of volunteering.
- 94% of respondents reported that volunteering has improved their mood.
- 78% of respondents report that volunteering lowers their levels of stress.
Sounds like you’ve got little to lose – grab a friend or go at it alone, and see where you can give your time to others – you might even make new friends with similar interests. We tried it out and we loved it!
4. Explore making healthy food with your kids
As much as we recognize how much what we eat can affect our energy levels, mood, and overall functionality, today can be about teaching your kids about how they work exactly the same way. Search a few recipes on Pinterest, assemble your shopping list, and get to it. If you’re low on snack ideas or getting a grasp of the foundation of kid’s nutrition, start by checking out our post on 4 Snacks to Feed Your Kids to Boost Their Health and Performance. You may even make a few that are keepers for weekly lunchbox staples moving forward.
5. Make a delicious meal with your friends and neighbors
6. Try some yoga
A session can open up the muscles, allow you to breathe, and help you bond with your inner self. Try this simple, 7-minute whole body stretching routine that you can do at home in a small space. Beyond the stress relief, a new study suggests that hatha yoga also may boost brain function in older adults.
If you’re new/still curious about yoga, check out Beth Shaw’s YogaLean – her new book offers an easy-to-follow and holistic lifestyle program by combining the latest nutrition and exercise science with yogic wisdom and principles.
How WellnessFX Can Help
Starting with a blood test to check if you have low cortisol levels is something you can look at as part of your and your healthcare practitioner’s plan. A WellnessFX Performance package can test your cortisol level.
Cortisol levels are at their highest in the morning, usually peaking around 8:00 am. While this blood test only requires a morning fast, eating your last morsel before 8:00 pm the previous night means you’ll be ready for comprehensive biomarker testing in the morning. If your cortisol number is out of range when you get your results (>23 mcg/dL), you’ve got some stress reduction to do.
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.