Category: Think

Choice is YOUR Weapon

Everybody knows that we are what we eat; it isn’t too big of a leap to also understand that the foods we chose to put into our mouths eventually become us (our hearts, brains, legs, skin & eyes). It should also make sense that the quality of the foods we eat is important, and differences in not only what we eat but the quality of it will causes different genes to be expressed, changing not only our phenotype (appearance) but also our physiology (the way we function). But did you know that your thoughts shape you in a very similar way. Depending on how you think, you can actually turn on & off genes in your body, causing a completely different expression of your appearance and function. That’s right, you can, in a sense think yourself healthy (and the side effects of being healthy contain but are not limited to: increased energy, better mood, better looks, better digestion, healthy skin, happier, faster, stronger, no inflammation, decreased sensitivity to pain (tissue damage)…and on and on.)

To your nervous system, thoughts are very much like movements, the more often you think a certain way, the better you get at thinking that way. It’s similar to becoming coordinated in a specific movement like shooting a basketball, the more you practice the better you get. This is because of a process called neurosensitization, nerves that fire (are used) often get bigger and require less stimulus to fire. It is a lot like carving a trail through a dense forest, after the first time through there is still much brush left and the trail probably isn’t clear, but after thousands of people have used it, the trail is there, and it is much easier to use. This analogy will also help you understand why you cannot change your thoughts by trying NOT to think of something. Your brain is very good at creating new paths, but it cannot get rid of old ones, just like with the forest, you can create new trails, but only time will cause that original trail to fade.

Why is this important? If you continuously think negative, harsh, contemptuous & hurtful thoughts, those thoughts not only become easier to think, they actually cause stress & trigger the amygdala (stress & anxiety center in your brain) to release stress hormones. Stress hormones are released in response to a stressor (whether negative thoughts, a hungry tiger, angry boss, nutrient deficient lunch, emotionally deficient relationship…etc). Those stress hormones cause breakdown in body tissues to provide ample energy and other changes to promote surviving that stressor, so that you can get back to a restful state. This is an amazing & life-saving system for acute (short term) stress (hungry tiger, deer to hunt..etc); however, this is a terrible & life-taking system for chronic (long term) stress. We now live in a modern world that is void of most acute stressors, and is FULL of chronic stressors, and this is why 75% of the deaths in North America are from lifestyle disease each year.

The good news: knowledge is power, and you can actually think yourself healthier, thoughts that are positive, healthy, happy, affirming, confident…etc (thoughts that are pure and sufficient and that go along with our innate values) have a calming (normalizing) effect because they cause the release of certain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) that block stress and normalize our physiology. How awesome is that?!

“The left prefrontal cortex can inhibit the stress response by releasing GABA at the amygdala in response to a positive (homeostatic) emotion. This is profound! What this means is that we, as humans can consciously choose to react differently to stimuli and thus control our stress levels.” –Innate State of Mind P28

“Under normal conditions SEROTONIN is released to inhibit the activity of the noradrenergic (stress) cells of the locus cerleus (anxiety relay center) that lead to anxiety. However, under chronic stress serotonin production cannot keep up and the result is that serotonin levels drop. The result of chronic increased noradrenaline and decreased serotonin levels is that people get depressed, feel irritable, tired, and listless, have problems sleeping, get tension headaches…etc.” –Innate State of Mind P30

What this means is that depression is a symptom of chronic stress and unhappy/negative thoughts and not the other way around. It is often specifically related to the chronic stress from habitually negative thought patterns that have been engraved in the nervous system. This is why drugs like SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) treat the symptom by changing brain chemistry, but do not address the cause (a drug will never create a healthy thought pattern).

We must create sufficiency and purity with our thoughts just as we must with our diets and exercise/movement patterns.  It can be a slow process, just like going from a 300 # extremely unfit person to a shredded 175 # fitness guru, but you can do it!  Focus one step at a time, one meal, one work out, one thought at a time.

I believe in you, it’s worth it and you can do it!

Action steps:

Own the consequences: Understand that thinking negatively (you’re stupid, ugly…etc) has a very harmful effect on your health, while thinking positively (you’re smart, beautiful…etc) has a very helpful effect on your health.

Write down in detail how the person you want to be would act, what they would do, how they would think, and what choices they would make, and then start acting, doing, thinking and choosing like they would.

Practice accessing happy memories when you are not in crisis. THIS IS HUGE! Get neurosensitization going on positive thoughts, so that if you find yourself in crisis you can access positive thoughts much easier & break the cycle much faster.

When you catch yourself thinking negative, don’t feel bad or guilty, just focus on something else, what you are thankful for (best & easiest one), your breathing, counting telephone poles, think of a happy memory or place.

Exercise – “relieves muscle tension and increases serotonin and GABA – and (↓) the trait of anxiety. Exercise gives neurons everything they need to connect…” –Spark p 95 Ratey

Get Adjusted – Chiropractic Adjustments improve reduces stress, and less stress = more health!!  Reducing your stress anywhere helps your overall health everywhere.  Get your spine checked ASAP!!

Choose 4 Health,


Your Health Buddy

Dr. Nicholas Araza DC CCWP


On May 26th of this month (Wed @ 645pm) I will be teaching a power workshop in Room 221E of the Cummings Center on the all important topic of Mastering Our Stress.  I will be covering 3 major topics, one of them is controlling our re-actions, which allows us to control our physiology & our hormones, making our lives easier.  Who wouldn’t go for some of that?  Since none of my far away buddies can make it, I will be reposting the 3 main topics here on my blog for you all.  This blog has been repurposed for this reason.  Enjoy

ANGRY DRIVERS Angry Drivers…

Don’t let it them get you.

 You know the one thing these two rage-filled drivers have in common?

 They probably don’t know each other and most likely will never see each other again.

 Think about it – so often in our lives, we let total strangers dictate our physiology (our function, the state of our being).  People who have NO business having any control over us whatsoever are given the power to change our physiologies. And I want to be clear here, we give them that power. Only you have the power to choose how you react to a situation. Most people like to feel like they have control over what is going on in their lives, but in reality the only control we ever have lies within our ability to control the way we react to life. This is why when two different people get in the same auto accident, one person will be angry, upset, and have his day ruined, while another person in the same accident will be thankful that he is alive and grateful for another chance.

 How we react has a much larger impact on our life than we think.  It actually affects our biochemistry and can lead us down a path to disease. You see, our body reacts to stress in the same way, whether the stress is physical (tissue damage), chemical (toxic food or any drugs), or emotional (negative thoughts, fear, anger).

 We release certain stress hormones (fight or flight) in our body to deal with these stressors and these hormones are basically the same no matter the type of stressor. So the hormones released when you see a wild hungry tiger in your bathroom are the same hormones released in your body when some bonehead (stressed out father who had an argument with his wife, feels bad about missing his kid’s baseball game, and is late for work)  gives you the finger. Sure, there will be a different amount of hormones released based on the imposed threat or aggravation, but the chemical reaction is the same. Let’s keep in mind we were designed for those types of rare but intensely stressful events (ie tigers) where we would expend a ton of energy (usually in order to keep living) to deal with those hormones.  Now we rarely have those intensely stressful events, but chronically have the small anxiety-inducing events such as:

 Work, money, kids, siblings, spouses, junk food, supplements, prescription drugs, recreational drugs, accidents, exercise, subluxations, girlfriends, boyfriends, the guy who flipped you off on way to work, traffic, the copier, bills, computers, technology in general, death, illness, friends, enemies, travel, dinner, the gym, smog, school, mom, dad, fashion, thinking about that guy who flipped you off earlier that day, politics, religion, taxes, email, pollution, etc.

 Unlike the tiger example, most of us today deal with these stressors with no huge output of energy – instead, we are left with the consequences of stress hormones wreaking havoc on our bodies. Lucky us.

 But wait, I thought the fight or flight response is a good thing…what’s the deal?

 If there is a tiger to run from or a wooly mammoth to hunt, it’s a GREAT THING, but if it is your housemate forgetting to do the dishes or the drive to work bringing you to a boil, it is a BAD THING.

 The Deal: Stress hormones (cortisol and catecholamines) are released to deal with stress, and what they do is basically break down our bodies in order to put huge amounts of energy molecules, wound repair substrates, and a host of other immediately life-saving chemicals into our blood stream.

 The Catch: long term use of this short term system KILLS YOU.

 CONSEQUENCES OF STRESS (fight or flight):

 Increased LDL and Decreased HDL (that’s “the bad” and “the good” cholesterol)

Increased Insulin Resistance (that’s diabetes)

 Increased Inflammation (that’s pain, arthritis, blocked arteries, heart attacks, skin and allergy issues, etc.)

 Decreased Immune System Function (let’s talk about this for a minute…your immune system is incredibly costly in terms of energy required to run, so during a stressful event, your brilliant body does what it needs to in order to survive and turns down/off that system. That is perfect, hoping you get away from the tiger into a rest and recovery situation where it can then be reinstated. That is not perfect in today’s world, where we rarely get away from our stress, and our immune system stays off or down.  This is why STRESSED PEOPLE GET SICK MORE OFTEN…it’s not that they encounter more germs!

 Increased Excretion of Calcium and Magnesium (that’s muscle and organ cramps, fatigue and increased blood pressure)

Increased Heart Rate and Blood Vessel Constriction (that’s high blood pressure, heart failure, heart attacks, macular degeneration, circulation problems, etc.)
ADD IT ALL UP…it SOUNDS LIKE LIFESTYLE DISEASES TO ME!  And lifestyle diseases are what’s killing 75% of all Americans.
THE BEST METHOD OF CORRECTION IS TO ADDRESS THE CAUSE  (I.E. DEAL WITH THE INCONGRUENT (STRESSFUL) LIFESTYLES), NOT TO MASK THE SYPMTOMS WITH DRUGS.  Forcing our hearts to beat less forcefully (high blood pressure) with drugs will never make a system thirsting for energy any healthier – it will only add the stress of the toxic drug and make it work harder to get that energy (more stress).  This is why mortality rates do not decrease with blood pressure drugs (they actually increase!!).
 I want to now focus on the red underlined part of one of the previous paragraphs because besides what mom says, this is what really makes humans so special. That’s right – we are so dang smart that we can actually think back on past stressful events and relive them.  Yep, the same hormones will be released in response to thinking about stressful events as they were during the actual events themselves.

 Negative self talk (and emotional stress) stimulates the amygdala (stress and anxiety center in the brain) and causes the eventual (like seconds) release of stress hormones from your adrenals.  The net result over time is lifestyle disease.  However… we can stop it.  Positive self talk, adjustments, and exercise halt this stress express in its tracks. Movement in the joints causes positive stimulation to your brain and hinders the negative.   The net result over time is a healthier, stronger, sleeker, and better you!

ACTION STEPS: The best part of this system is that we have control over it.  It isn’t easy, but it is simple.

1.  Positive self talk is key, and realizing the ridiculousness of the situation you are in and what good that can come out of it also helps (I now get more agitated at myself for getting agitated at other drivers than I do at the other drivers!….this is a slow process).   I often think about how I don’t know the other person, and ask myself why I would let them have this kind of control over my life/thoughts, etc.

2.  Don’t focus on it, get your thoughts on something you are thankful for, and the agitation will slip away.  Also try not to talk about it (much) later that day because that just feeds into the negative energy.

3. Ask yourself whether you will even remember this next week , in a month from now, a year?  If the answer is no, it’s probably not that big of a deal and you should let it go.  Thinking about it in that way makes this process easier (this one helps me personally in a HUGE way).

4.  Take a deep breath and count to ten.  My dad has been telling me to do this since I was able to understand words, and now I know why that helps.  Diaphragmatic (deep) breathing is how we breathe during rest and repair, so it helps shift our physiology back to one of healing.

5. Smile. It really does make you happier.  Look in a mirror and smile your face off, and you will feel better.  I thought this was bogus, then last week I went into the bathroom to try it out and came out laughing it was such a good time.  Seriously though, I was smiling so big I think some of our patients must have thought I was crazy.

6.  GET ADJUSTED.  Subluxations (improper joint motion compromising nerve function) cause stress (amongst a whole host of other things), and correcting subluxations removes stress.  It’s so simple – just go do it!

7.  EXERCISE.  Exercising moves joints, which leads to decreased stress… and there are about a zillion other reasons to do it, including one of my favorites:  you become dead sexy.  Enough already – just go get it done!  I’m serious – get up right now and go run, squat, swim, play tennis, throw a Frisbee, move around like a kid, play in the grass.  Just go do it…get out of here!  Go GO GO!   WOOOOOHOOOOO!

Love you guys!

Control Your Physiology 4 Health

Dr. Nicholas Araza DC  CCWP

One of my major focuses for this blog is to educate my loved ones so that they can add simple things into their life to decrease stress.  Stress is what causes 75% of all deaths in this country. SEVENTY FIVE PERCENT!!!  Think about that!  That is 3 out of 4 of us!  This is because stress is what is responsible for lifestyle diseases.  Cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, emphazema…etc are caused by stress in the form of toxicity or deficiency.  Not getting the required nutrients (fruit, veggies, meat, nuts, movement, oxygen..etc) to express health is a stress that results in adaptive physiology and eventual pathology (see diseases above).  It is also a stress when you are exposed to or take in toxic substances (fried foods, grains, sweets, pesticides, alcohol, pharmaceuticals…etc), which results in the same end.

We live in an incongruent world, meaning our genes were designed/evolved for a different world.  A world in which we spent our time hunting and gathering, playing and moving constantly and eating only the freshest foods in a supportive community.    That being said, the world we live in is no longer like that.  So, in order to give us the absolute best shot at being healthy, we must do as many things as possible each day to reduce the stress we experience from living in an incongruent world.

Thus, here is an easy stress reducing activity that you can add into your daily if not hourly health promoting repertoire:  Diaphragmatic (Deep) Breathing.

Control Your Morning = Control Your Day

Last week at our practice, I had the opportunity to teach Morning Rituals, one of the key activities we wellness doctors do each morning to get the MOST out of our day.  Our day starts early, so the rituals began early, 530 a.m. to be exact, and if I may speak for the few brave souls who participated, we had an awesome experience!  So awesome in fact, I have decided to continue this practice at the practice throughout summer while we have light.

Now for those of you who find idea of 530 am more stressful than the reward of the awesome feelings of gratitude and community that we all felt last Friday, OR YOU LIVE TOO FAR AWAY,  I do not judge you; however, I still want you to be able to participate, so with this blog I will be sharing some of the activities that guarantee to get your day started off in a much different and better light.

Step 1:  Stretch. (1-2min)

Have you noticed what every other animal in the animal kingdom does when they wake up from a snooze?  Whether arising from a nap or a 10 hour sleep-fest, every animal, save one (human beings) stretch upon arising from slumber.  Think about it, your cat, your dog, the animals on the discovery channel….they all give a little stretch & a bend, to wake up their musculo-skeletal & nerve system, which allows them to fully wake up and begin their day.  Your body undergoes a HUGE shift in its physiology when going from sleep to wakefulness; a stretch will get things moving, increase positive stimulation to your nervous system, allowing it to finish its preparations for your day?!!  This doesn’t have to be long or drawn out, just a quick minute of moving and doing what feels good will give you a better shot @ an awesome day.

Step 2: Herd your thoughts & control your mind. (5-10min)

There are many ways to meditate, the simplest that I have found is breathing.  The simple act of concentrating on your breath is a form of meditation that can be practiced anytime and anywhere.  Get into a comfortable position (good posture is the best) & the simply focus on your breath and let all the other thoughts drift away.  Actively think “I am breathing in, I am breathing out,” keeping your breaths slow and controlled breathing deep into your belly. Practice for 5-10 minute, keeping in mind: IT WILL BE DIFFICULT AT FIRST.  You must border collie your thoughts and always come back to your breath.  This will get easier the more often you practice.  (if you find yourself off track, don’t bother getting upset, just realize you are now thinking about what you are going to have for lunch tomorrow and return to thinking about your breath).

Step 3: Nourish Your Spine – Spinal Hygiene Exercises (5min)

Your spine protects and supports your nervous system, the master communicator in your body.  Your nerve system is responsible for regulating everything from digestion to breath & circulation.  Your spine also gives support to your vital organs & gives your muscles a place to attach to allowing for movement, and movement is life.

“…The vertebral column; (which is) undoubtedly the most neglected vital organ in the human body.” JMPT 1985.

Practicing Spinal Hygiene Exercises & Life Extension Exercises will take your spine through its natural range of motion keeping it & you healthy, as well as stimulate proper posture, which can add life to your years & years to your life.  Check out the links to the videos on these exercises for more.

Step 4: Daily Affirmation (1-3min)

There is nothing more empowering than an awesome daily affirmation first (4th) thing in the morning.  Come up with your own or use the one I use/modify from the masters circle, but it should focus on giving thanks for the day, your abilities now and in the future, and your drive for kaizen (constant and continual self improvement).

Step 5: Attitude of Gratitude

This is the simplest and best part of my morning rituals.  After this final step I am ready for the day and feeling fantastic.  It is a simple fact that our minds can only hold focus on one thing at a time, sure you can shuffle the focus from item to item, but we can really only concentrate on one thing at a time.  So when you are being thankful, everything else just melts away and the day seems a little brighter.  (This can be done at any time especially when you need a pick-me-up, works way better than chocolate!)

First focus on all of the things you are thankful for that are currently in your life. Be specific and say it out loud (even if you have to whisper).  Specify family members and their attributes that your thankful for, your friends, your health, job, the food you ate yesterday, the birds that you are seeing…etc anything is fair game, just say what you are feeling grateful for.

Second, focus on all of the things you are thankful for that are coming into your life. It is an act of manifestation, by bringing what you want to the forefront of your mind.  Whether its your parents’ health, a promotion at work, a new PR at the dead lift, your brothers business success…anything you hope for, but again be specific.

Take a few breaths, smile and have a great day!!

Give Thanks 4 Health,

-Dr. Nicholas Araza DC CCWP