In today’s modern world of ‘busyness, noise and distraction’ our health is being challenged like never before. It could be said that we are now living through an epidemic of stress and that one of the leading diseases we are facing today is in fact the Disease of Distraction.
After spending over 10 years practicing as a community Pharmacist, I witnessed the rising scale in chronic diseases and lifestyle related ill-health such as obesity, type two diabetes, auto immunity, digestive disorders, anxiety and depression. Many of these illness’s are related to the amount of daily stress we are experiencing and the style in which we are living our lives. I believe the new age ‘Busy Phenomenon’ is driving this distraction and leading us to experience more Ill-health in the Mind, Body and Soul.
In order for us to regain control over our health and well-being, I believe it is extremely important that we start to really implement an integrative approach to our lifestyles, where by we look to seeking the root cause of the problem as opposed to just treating the symptom. This appraoch acts not only to maintain and provide energy, vitality and peace of mind in our current lives, but also serves to act as a preventative measure to help reduce the likihood of getting or acquiring Ill health in our later lives.
What we do each and every day in the present moment is either creating a future of health and happiness or generating a future of Ill – health and sickness.
As human beings we all want to have more ‘ease’ in our lives and less ‘dis-ease’. I have witnessed first hand the benefits of adopting this integrated approach to our health and wellness, one that encompasses lifestyle as medicine for sustained peace of mind and well-being in the body.
This approach looks beyond just the physical manifestation of the problem to the wider context and to the person as a whole. This includes how the person is eating, drinking, thinking, sleeping, moving, how much stress they have in their lives, how much fun and laughter they experience, how healthy their relationships are (not just with others but with themselves), their career – does it feed their soul with a sense of purpose and passion, and what their core beliefs about themselves are and about the world around them.
How and why has this Disease of Distraction become so prominent?
One of the main reasons we are distracted out of our own lives is because at some level we may feel like our lives are not good enough, not exciting enough, not glitzy enough or glam enough. Through the social media world we can often percieve the illusion of other people’s lives as perfect leading us to perhaps fear that we are simply not enough. We may feel flawed or we may judge, shame and blame ourselves. This then forces us to look for approval, appreciation, respect and validation from the external world to try and meet an internal void or a hole in our Soul. I deem this – anorexia of the soul.
If you look around you right now – on the bus, train, in coffee shops, in hairdressers, in shopping malls, at bus stations, pretty much everywhere, you will see a mass of ‘Home – less’ Souls. A Cascade of Human beings stuck in screens trying to prove to the world that they matter and hoping to get heard and seen so that we can attain some sort of validation to reassure ourselves that our lives are worthy and meaningful. And who knows, if you add a few filters you might even make yourself feel even more loveable!
These feelings of reward influence our motivation and mood, and this is down to the release of a very powerful neurotransmitter called Dopamine. When this is released we feel good, we feel safe and comfortable and we feel satisfied. However, this neurotranmitter is often short lived, so it leaves us wanting more and more, which is why we can become addicted to our screens, staring into the abyss looking for approval and appreciation which really only serves to distract us away from what’s going on in our own actual reality for fear that we might not like what we see, hear or feel.
But this new age digital craze is not all bad. It provides an amazing service to the world, it is powerful beyond belief when used correctly. And it is used for businesses and promotional use with incredible advantage. However it’s important that we learn how to use and manage it correctly, and how aware we become of our attachment and association with it.
In order to over come this disease of Distraction, I believe that we have to become more present in our lives.
So how do we achieve this? Here are my top 6 tips on how to achieve more presence in your day to day life, thus enabling us to feel more fulfilled from the inside out.
1. Mindful Moments
Mindful moments allow you to press pause on life and just be in the moment. These moments can include being mindful of how you eat, drink, think, move, breathe, believe and perceive.
I believe that in order for us to achieve more, and do more and become more, we must first slow everything down and do less and become less. By stripping everything back to basics and giving yourself time and space to pause, reflect and really tap into what’s important in your life – this allows a greater awakening within and helps to develop a deeper sense of self. Instead of focusing on doing – try just being. After all we are human beings not human doings.
To practice mindful moments in your life try mindful walking or mindful meditation in nature – Breathing in the fresh air, feeling the pavement under your feet, and seeing the wide-open sky are subtle ways that ground and nourish the senses. Any moment in any day can be mindful if we choose it to be and we cultivate the awareness to be more present. By slowing down your tasks and making the ordinary extraordinary – we generate magical Mindful and grateful moments – Brushing your teeth, washing the dishes, driving the kids to school, doing the shopping etc…. Make the mundane special. This is how we create sparkle and magic to our lives. These tasks have to be done anyway – why not be more mindful in them and make them more enjoyable.
2. The art of Meditation
The benefits of meditation practice are numerous and includes the reduction of stress, a clearer mindset, more inner ease and a clearer connection to who you are and what you want out of life. Meditation does not mean sitting crossed legged under a tree. It can be done anywhere. Try sitting for 5 or 10 minutes and just being still. If you are new to meditation use a guided audio meditation like a body scan to help you focus. Use a breathing technique as described below. Let all the busyness and the mental noise and chatter of the mind be observed but don’t judge or cling to it. Simply just see the thoughts as clouds and let them keep moving. Come home to your breath or the guided meditation. By practicing this regularly, you will become more present to your mind and body and more connected to your soul, which brings about a greater sense of clarity, connection and ease in your every day life.
3. Unplugging – Breaking theaddiction and reducing screen time
Studies have found that oxytocin levels (our love and connection hormone) have greatly been reduced due to the rising increase in technology. Oxytocin soars when we feel connected. As human beings we are social creatures built to thrive on human connection and community. However as we break away from the tribe and become more at one with our screens than other human beings, our oxytocin levels drop and we feel a sense of isolation and loneliness, often developing a lack of trust and a sense of danger. Oxytocin is vital for our health and wellness and for feeling loved and connected. To help raise our oxytocin levels try meeting up with friends more regularly and having real face to face contact and conversations. Join a local society, gym or volunteer. Oxytocin levels are also raised by giving and receiving hugs, touch, massage and intimacy. Cuddle your dog, your kids, your partner, your teddy! Place your hands on your heart and say thank you each morning – all of these are powerful yet incredibly simple ways of awakening your own inner pharmacy. Giving and receiving love is one of the most powerful tools for enhancing health and well-being.
To unplug more – set aside time during dinner where all phones are put away or have no phone or technology in the bedroom rule, try choosing a day or an hour each day where you will detach from texting, checking social media, and responding to emails. You will begin to experience a richer life.
4. Develop and strengthen a sense ofinternal self confidence
Begin to develop your confidence and belief in yourself by working on developing greater mental fitness and strengthening your emotional immune system. Simple ways to help this include practicing routines and rituals like visualisation, positive affirmations, journaling, gratitude, meditation, deep breathing, talk therapy and energy medicine.
Tell yourself You are enough every day. BECAUSE YOU ARE.
5. Awakening your own inner world ofpotential and possibility
This involves really tapping into and exploring what makes you You. What brings you alive? What do you love to do? What are you passionate about? And are you prioritising this? I believe Spiritually is one of the biggest missing links to our modern day protocol of wellness. If we look at other ancient health systems like Ayurveda in Eastern Medicine or Traditonal Chinese medicine, or the Greek philosophers – they all speak about energy and chi and something higher or greater than ourselves. They speak about the Divine or Budda or some higher source that allows people to have a faith and a sense of hope. This creates a biology of belief that is more powerful at times than science or medicine itself – the proof of this is in the power of the placebo effect.
6. Nourishing your Soul through Lifestyle as Medicine
This involves nourishing all aspects of yourself – Mind, Body and Soul through exploring lifestyle as medicine.
Does your current wellness regimen involve activities that nourish Soulful connections, healthy relationships, nourishing wholesome foods and beverages, fun, laughter, play, adventure, movement, sleep and ease of mind.
We can avoid feeling empty or alone if we fill up our inner world by creating a lifestyle that is authentic and is filled with meaning, purpose and passion.
7. The Power of the Breath
The power of your breath is extremely powerful and when used correctly and regularly has powerful healing affects. It is one of the best way to reduce stress, heart rate, blood pressure and overall anxiety and fear and bring you back into the present moment.
Take a moment to stop, breathe in through your nose. Send the breath to your belly and let it rise. Pause at the top of your inhale and then breathe out slowly through the mouth. Let your belly fall as you breathe out. Repeat this regularly throughout the day for greater well-being.
Remember what you do each and every day in your present life, through your thoughts, actions, behaviours and belief’s is creating your future. Be IN your own life. Be present to it. It is precious. This present moment is all we ever have.