By: Melissa L. Stocker, Facility Manager/Physical Therapist, Athletico Greenwood Can you manage your career, family, health, household, friendships, and community involvement, being fully present with each of these activities while still achieving your life dreams? Many of us recognize if we don’t make work-life balance a priority, our health, memory, energy, and focus decline, then our ability to make decisions and manage stress reduces as a result! But what happens to the body? With stress, we experience altered breathing patterns, metabolic changes, inefficient organ function, and altered sleep and dietary patterns. We tend to become dehydrated, which further impacts bodily functions. Proper hydration improves our senses, regulates body temperature, lubricates joints, flushes away toxins, relieves constipation, and carries oxygen and nutrients to cells for the body to function properly. We have fascia throughout our body, which contracts to act as a protective mechanism in times of stress. This fascia holds over 25% of the water in the body, as well as housing the vascular system, nervous system and lymphatic system. When dehydrated or under stress, this tissue becomes fibrous instead of elastic, leading to postural and mechanical changes and illness, with multi-system impact. We also see postural and mechanical changes with more sedentary lifestyles. Though exercise takes time in your daily schedule, it is no secret that regular exercise can improve focus, anxiety, stress, confidence, and job performance! When posture and mechanical changes occur, we see more overuse injuries and chronic pain (especially spinal pain and headaches). This also leads to more workplace injuries, changes in sleep patterns and overall health decline. These breakdowns in patterns are tough to reverse, because many people do not realize they changed their pattern until an injury occurs. Most people expect physical therapists to look at mechanics. But at the point of mechanical change, we have missed our opportunity to get ahead of the problem! Over time, these also impact production and culture at work. Not taking enough breaks when sitting throughout the day at the computer impacts your posture, ability to focus and productivity. It is recommended to stand up from your chair, perform a stretch or take a few deep breaths about every 30 minutes throughout the day! Setting a timer or downloading an app to assist you is the most effective way to implement this new behavior consistently. So, WHAT CAN YOU DO TODAY to generate a positive impact on your body? Exercise? Drink more fluids? Sleep more? Alter your posture or mechanics? Practice deep breathing? Take appropriate breaks? Any of these options are a great start to caring for yourself! Just as you progress your career goals, it is just as important to set personal goals, have an outlet (exercise, journal, etc) and make sure you care enough about YOU to prioritize caring for your body within your schedule as well! This will improve your balance, attitude, focus, stress level, and culture of your environment, as well as your personal satisfaction at home and at work! About the Author: Melissa Stocker, PT, MPT, MCMT, CMTPT is the manager of Athletico Physical and Occupational Therapy at County Line and Emerson Avenue, and has been an outpatient physical therapist for 13 years, personally specializing in Orthopedics, Sports Medicine, Manual therapy, Dry Needling, Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, Women’s & Men’s Health, Visceral Manipulation, & Blood Flow Restriction. You can easily reach Melissa or a member of her team at (317)807-0770 or by email at Melissa.Stocker@athletico.com.