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Life- A Run-A-Way Freight Train? Or A Gentle Zen Garden?

This is a guest post by Dr. Shawn Haywood

Does your daily life resemble something more akin to a run-a-way freight train or a peaceful, flowing Zen garden?

I suspect the freight train is a more accurate depiction.  That is, if you fall among the 80 + percent of Americans who lead chronically overly-scheduled lives!

Living in an exhausted, chronically busy, emotionally tapped out state has become the latest version of ‘more, more, more’, ‘bigger, bigger, bigger’, ‘better, better, better’.  Keeping up with the Jones’s began with more credit, bigger homes, and more expensive cars, and has graduated to lifestyles that are literally making us sick.

As with anything insatiable, it comes with a cost.  Voracious appetites for more (faster, skinnier, perfection, busier, bigger, more stuff, career success, … and so on) as a lifestyle, is usually crippling- body, brain, emotions, and spirit.  

For most, life needs to take a swift 180 toward freedom, calm, clarity, play, engagement and down time.  Check out: 4 Ways To Get Your Lazy On! for additional tools to s-l-o-w down.

Question: Do you feel deeply FREE and CONTENT most days?

Is your life filled with as much freedom, free time, calm living, relaxation and hammock lazing as you want?  Do you live life at a pace that is fulfilling, or are you merely surviving break-neck speed each day, while dreaming of vacations and a slower-paced life?

Here’s the 411

Life is too CRAZY.  SERIOUSLY.  Your life is too frantic and crazy too (well, probably).

Wouldn’t you love to stop and smell the roses?  That is, if you had the time or where-with-all to notice the roses?  Let’s unpack the layers of impact that frantic, freight-train living has on your emotions, body, brain and spirit.  And then we’ll look at ways to take BACK our lives!

Your Emotions

Do you feel more emotionally volatile these days?  Moody?  Irritable?  Sassy?  Up and down? Anxious?  Depressed days or weeks?

People’s emotions are often fried because there’s not enough rest, deliberate breathing, short walks to seek clarity and calm, conscious eating of nutrient dense meals (or even taking time to chew for Pete sake!). 

Really, there is hardly even any basic recovery built in to each day, let alone the recovery our emotional (and physical) body requires to perform and support you in optimal ways. 

Thus, relationships are becoming a breeding ground for compromised, frustrating, strained, inflexibility, and increasingly filled with blame, shame and resentment.  Emotional health is waning, and all forms of anxiety and depression are on the rise.  Even the chemicals or neurotransmitters that support healthy emotional function are being scattered like roaches.

Your Body

Bodies are fatigued…  Your body is very likely fatigued too if you’re living the freight train lifestyle (even if you can’t yet see the ramifications). 

From frequent injury and digestion problems (heartburn, IBS, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, leaky gut, parasites, and MUCH more) to chronic pain and inflammation, to poor sleep, or moodiness and even PMS-  all signs of a fatigued (or sick /ailing) body.

Your vessel is probably not getting many home-cooked foods like bone broth, organ meats, lean meats, and HORDS of organic veggies… daily… is it?  But instead, whatever is fast and furious and fits into the 2.5 minutes given to hork down a ‘pseudo’ meal.  Not to mention how easily we can dismiss our REQUIRED 8-9 hours of good sleep and frequent breaks throughout the day in order to have any chance of operating a thriving body!  

And dare I even begin to discuss the insane numbers of people with auto-immune issues, chronic hormone imbalances, pre-diabetic and diabetic, and brain-barrier permeability problems… oy vey!  The research is in, and it’s not pretty.

Yet, even with a sick or exhausted body, we still attempt to put our gorgeous temples through rigorous exercise, long work days, daily taxing errands or social commitments (often including far too much alcohol), and the inevitable and seemingly endless home and child care duties.

I’m overwhelmed just thinking about all of the beautiful bodies who are ‘dying’ to be returned to great health and calm living.

Your Brain

Our brains are running amuck with endless lists of to dos, which can easily lead to JACKED up hormones from sun up to far past sun down.  Do you know the implications of this scenario?  Blood insulin is one (um, does hangy ring a bell), and the inevitable compromised brain chemicals and thyroid problems as mentioned a moment ago.

Interestingly, our lifestyle, including things like alcohol, Red Bull and chronic stress (worry, anxiety, depression) can have devastating effects and damage on our actual brain shape and function.  Often impacting our bodies levels of, and ability to create or regulate neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and GABA – the ESSENTIALS of happy, successful and fulfilling living.  Thankfully, most brains and brain damage can heal with time and the right rehab. 

Your Spirit

And what about our beautiful spirits?  This inseparable part is probably tired too… It longs for meditation, long walks, and connection to nature - dirt, weeds, flowers, trees, mountains water falls and rivers.  And even if you are outdoors running, biking, paddle boarding, swimming, etc, are you soaking in Mother Earth?  Are you connecting deeply with her?  Or are you out to check another item off your list?

What The Hell-o Kitty Can We Do?

How do we escape the chains?  How do we recoup, heal, and thrive in a totally blissed out way – Body, Brain, Emotions and Spirit in spite of the seemingly social and cultural pressure to live in a chronically frantic and illness producing way?

And how do we embrace the freedom we long for?

Her is one great action, begin to exchange, remove, delete, eliminate, and systematize EVERYTHING that doesn’t align with deep meaning, purpose, joy or optimal health, and add or keep ONLY what does!

This question literally becomes a part of all segments of the day.  When you are faced with shifting tasks, making decision, or choosing how to spend your time you ask yourself, 4 DOZEN times per day… ‘Does ______ align with MY version of deep meaning, purpose, super joy, or optimal health?’  When the answer is yes, proceed, when the answer is no, redirect your efforts!

Depending upon your unique life, this could mean, removing anything from complaining or gossiping (emotional), to extra work driven by perfectionism (brain) or time with people who are obligations instead of loving companions (spirit).  Perhaps you need better systems for eating or in your business in order to free up some time and energy (body, emotions, brain and spirit).

Let’s look at this idea removing, replacing or upgrading one area at a time.

Your Body

MOST of us need improved mitochondria function, seriously upgraded digestive health, like solving leaky gut, heart burn, IBS, constipation, etc., and seriously improved hormone health and blood insulin mobility to prevent the diseases that are on the rise my way of 20-60 percent (a few of said diseases mentioned earlier).

Depending upon your particular body, you may need to find a functional medicine doctor to run labs and help with a plan.  But MANY, if not MOST can achieve far better health by lowering stress, ie s-l-o-w-i-n-g down… a lot!  Focusing on gratitude, love, care and kindness and adding the foods mentioned earlier.