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The holidays are supposed to be a time to relax, take a break from work and enjoy a festive meal.  But more often, people associate this time of year with rushing, traffic, malls, stressful interactions with family, and trying to get a lot accomplished in cold, wintry weather.

Many people are aware that the body reacts to stress like it reacts to illness. Stress weakens the immune system and makes you more prone to getting sick. One of the best ways to prevent sickness is to keep your immune system strong, so taking the time to reduce stress in your life can make a big impact on your likelihood of developing diseases like cancer.

There are three main kinds of stress that we need to prevent. Today we’re going to discuss physical stress. The body is an amazing machine which is able to heal itself, process food, and do complex tasks. But think of the body like a car – if you get into an accident or if you don’t get oil changes, an otherwise perfect car will start to break down.

You might think, “Well, I’m not an Olympic athlete so I’m not putting my body through that much physical stress”, but that’s not necessarily true. Everything we do, from lifting boxes to taking out the garbage has the potential to put stress on the body.

We need to make sure that we do daily tasks with care. Consider your posture when you’re talking on the phone. If you twist your neck to keep the phone on your shoulder, you’re not only stressing the muscles of the neck but all the muscles of the body! Instead, you can use headphones to keep your hands free without straining your body.

If you drive long distances, pay attention to how you’re sitting. Are you leaning into one side of your back or slouching? This twisting of the spine can affect the muscles as well as the spine. E-mail us at info@kaplanbrainandbody.com if you are interested in purchasing lumbar support cushions and air cushions to help correct your posture while sitting.

We’ve already discussed how prolonged sitting is detrimental to our health. If you do need to sit, make sure you have a good, ergonomic chair. Consider transitioning to a standing desk, but at least stand up every hour and stretch or roll your shoulders backwards.

You might not think that small changes can really help you prevent cancer, but they are like maintenance for the body. The benefits might not seem significant at first, but eventually it all pays off. Becoming aware of how we put physical stress on our bodies is great prevention – and great practice for slowing down and considering how we treat our bodies.

Read along next week to learn how managing emotional stress can keep your immune system in better shape. If you are interested in Dr. Kaplan’s services or purchasing postural support cushions, please contact us at 201-261-2150 or visit our website www.kaplandc.com