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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. 

We must get rid of tasks, errands, social outings, work or friendships that cause stress or feel like resentment inducing obligations.  Stress is crippling to all mechanisms of your body.

Exercise of course!  BUT, too much training can be extremely detrimental to your body and brain.  Lean more about over training, and the HUGE propensity for most triathletes or other endurance athletes to over-train and way, way, way under-recover in Ben Greenfields book, Beyond Training.

Take Action! Slow down.  Eat nutrient dense foods.  Get plenty of usable fat (avocado, nuts, seeds,

cold pressed coconut oil), eat slowly and chew your food to a pulp for goodness sake (STOP scarfing like a staving dog)!  Be at a healthy weight.  And for the love of all that is holy, get 8-9 hours of sleep every single night!

Your Brain

Your brain would likely LOVE a lot more TLC.  TLC for your brain might include supplements that support or elevate neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, or GABA.  It might require supplements like vitamin D, omegas, coQ19 or magnesium (which the vast majority of Americans are low or deficient in). 

The brain is delicate and easy to damage with environmental toxicity (eating non-organic foods containing pesticides, meats with hormones or antibiotics, or consuming genetically modified foods), breathing in pollutants, or drinking alcohol daily or several days per week, even as little as one glass of wine can be harmful. Learn more about brain health in Dr. Amen’s book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.

Be sure you know what is going on in the various parts of YOUR brain.  Just because your doctors aren’t asking about it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t need your abrupt attention.  In my experience, most medical professionals, including psychiatrists as zero to hardly any questions about the actual parts of your brain (PFC, ACG, BG, temporal lobes, etc.)  So we must educate ourselves, at least to some degree.

The various forms of depression, or depressed moods, anxiety, the 7 forms of ADD, 5 types of addiction, and 5 types of food addiction happen to be in your brain can often go undiagnosed due to an amazing lack of medical knowledge!  Your body-gut-hormones-emotions are one and many and play an interconnected and inseparable role with our brain!

Take Action!  Understand YOUR specific brain, its challenges, and its gifts, then adjust accordingly.  Know what it needs more of, less of and why.  The is an excellence resource. The brain is a tricky space to navigate, so please, contact me if you you struggle with any of the above and want support or guidance.

Your Emotions

Wouldn’t you love to melt into calm… Zen… peace… stillness… passion… inspiration?  This combination is what the emotional body craves above all as it relates to all relationships, including the one with yourself!  Then, it desires connection, significance and meaning in a career, and to be of service to others or mankind.

What is the balance in your your emotional bank account?  Are you feeling overwhelmed, irritable, cranky or fatigued?  Then you might want to make some solid deposits!

Take Action!

Maybe you need to remove people who drain your emotional or bank account!  Maybe it’s time to learn more about how the 80/20 applies to training for marathons and triathlons in order to cut your training by 20 to 40 percent (yep, it CAN be done). 

You might need to set better boundaries or speak your heart and mind in order to clear out the emotional clutter, hurt or resentment.

And if you really want to step up your game of happy and successful living, have serious emotional freedom, own your time, and jack up your emotional energy levels, consider hiring a coach or therapist, or find a suitable mentor, growth retreat, or personal development program to engage.

Your Spirit

Our gorgeous spirit simply craves simplicity.  It longs for softness, gentleness, more self-love and self-compassion, time spent contemplating the stars and the moon and the grass… and sometimes even more self-protection.

First, you must be willing to choose yourself.  To find yourself worthy of freedom, of slowing down, and of having more peace, calm and self-care. 

Take Action! Find 5 minutes per day to breathe or meditate.  Go outdoors and walk for 15 minutes just for the sake of admiring and connecting with Mother Earth.  Practice prayer or other rituals that let you feel close and connected to the Universe, humanity or God.

If we want to be optimally happy, healthy and successful, we must attune to the needs and necessities of our body, and ALL of its make parts and pieces, from gut to brain to emotions to spirit.

Finding the freedom you’re meant to live is all about INTENTIONAL life design and creation.  You can take full responsibility for your experience of life.  The amount of joy, success and contentment you have, completely depends upon your choices.

In love and liberation!

Dr. Shawn Haywood


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