By Guest Blogger: Alison Canavan
Have you ever noticed that sometimes conversations seem like a competition to see who’s the busiest of all? Sometimes I feel like I’m living in some kind of demented dream where people are one-upping and trying to outdo each other with bookings and hours worked. It seems not having time for any kind of live shows that’s you are successful, in demand, a better parent, popular and hard working.
Well, I think it's time to call time on this theory because being busy all the time with little or no downtime leads to burnout, disconnection, stress, and worry which actually leads to a poor quality of life.
No one is going to argue that the world is moving at an alarming rate but in my opinion, to keep up we must also slow down. Waking, drinking coffee, taking a HITT class and then pushing through your day often eating at your desk or skipping meals because you are just too busy to take 10 minutes is wreaking havoc on our health and wellbeing.
Mental health issues are on the rise and obesity levels are through the roof. These problems are getting worse, not better and are a direct response to a lifestyle that we are very obviously simply not coping with.
Our bodies need time to renew and rebuild but if we don’t give our bodies space and time to do this they will start to break down. You might not notice the alerts for the repair work that needs to be done (because we’re too busy!!) and by the time you do, it is entirely possible that you have broken down completely which in turn means either taking time off work causing you more stress for missing out or serious illness!
This is a cycle that needs to be broken and it can be changed much easier than you think.
“Small moments often”
“Take small moments often.”
Initially, this might seem silly as how can 5 minutes 2-3 times a day really help but giving ourselves this space actually helps to decrease stress by lowering our blood pressure and calming our central nervous system, therefore, encouraging our body to move into the parasympathetic mode AKA our ‘rest and digest’. If you are eating lunch on the run your body can’t and won’t digest your food properly. Our body also needs to rest to repair and renew our cells so our internal factory keeps working properly.
Most of us spend a large majority of the time these days in the sympathetic mode, AKA ‘fight or flight’ which is the body’s response to perceived threat. Perfect if you are running from a saber tooth tiger as heart rate speeds up and functions not critical to survival shut down but today our sabertooth is stress and having our body and CNS (central nervous system) in this mode too often is actually damaging and dangerous for our health.
So we need to #slowdowntospeedup to equip and enable our bodies to cope in an ever-increasing fast-paced world. I know it can be counterintuitive in today’s world to even think about doing this but just look around you. All that is happening when we keep pushing is fatigue, we feel physically and emotionally drained. Our moods tend to be more negative and our appetite and sleep can be affected leading to poor food and lifestyle choices.
It’s like knocking over dominos and being unable to stop them but jumping in and stopping them is not only possible it’s important and necessary.
Let me give you an example:
If you run out of petrol you go to a petrol station and refuel, right?
But most people never refuel their bodies expecting them to keep running on empty all day and then they get angry and stressed when their body and mind let them down. We go to the doctor and ask for pills to fix our ills but maybe refueling a little and often are not such a bad idea to prevent this from happening. When you do it will lead to:
- Better Mood
- Increased productivity
- Better Sleep
- Better food choices
- Increased energy
- An increase in positivity
- Better relationships
- Increased contentment, happiness and the list goes on
Letting go of guilt and working smarter will not only benefit you but also your family and friends too. Short breaks actually increase productivity and help to manage stress and the guilt you feel for taking breaks should start to diminish as soon as you see your productivity increase.
We are conditioned by society that hours spent slogging means that we deserve something more than if we have achieved it with less but this is simply not true. Working smarter not harder is the key. Going with the flow instead of swimming against the tide means you will move with the natural energy and flow of life. Refuel your body and mind and watch your quality of life increase as well as your work performance. Here are some ideas:
- MINDFUL EATING – Take 3-5 deep breaths before you eat (this will help to transition your body into the parasympathetic mode AKA rest and digest – the one you want!!)
- GOOD FOOD = GOOD MOOD – Eating well has an abundance of positive impacts on your health. You will help stabilize energy by balancing your blood sugar with good wholesome food. Good food gives you the nutrients to keep your factory working efficiently.
- SHORT WALKS – Taking short walks when you feel overwhelmed can give you the space you need to think clearly. Getting outdoors also helps you to reconnect with nature and studies have shown that even a few minutes walking a day can increase your lifespan https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25931456
- EXERCISE -Physically move to mentally cruise and enable your body to increase energy flow. We are all made up of energy and we need to move to prevent the energy and in turn us from becoming stagnant. I find both Yoga and Pilate’s help me to connect with my body and myself. This connection helps to ground us leading us to feel better in body, mind, and spirit. But exercise is individual so find what works for you and maybe a bit of variety can inject some extra enthusiasm into your workout.
- MEDITATION – I meditate daily and I can’t imagine having meditation in my life now. Giving yourself that space to connect with yourself and your inner world helps your outer world become more balanced. Meditation improves cognitive function, mood, creativity, sleep, appetite and overall health and wellness.
- GRATITUDE – Taking time to write in a gratitude journal helps us to see the world through a different lens. It enables to see what we do have as opposed to what we don’t have. I write 3 different things every morning in my journal and I can’t think of a better way to start your day.
Helping people to join the dots with their health and wellbeing is Alison’s primary goal and passion which led her to create her new show The Full 360 series, the first show of its kind that looks at connecting all aspects of wellbeing.
She recently spoke at The Mindful Life Conference in Washington in April 2017 and is currently studying mindfulness at UCLA in America. She writes a very popular weekly wellness column called ‘NIRVANA’ in The Sunday Independent and a column in Positive Life Magazine. Check out www.becomplete.ie and www.alisoncanavan.com for more details
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