With all the liking, tweeting, and pinning going on these days, it’s a wonder we get anything accomplished outside of our virtual lives. The pace of the world around us seems to be exponentially increasing, while our minds and bodies are often left craving simpler times.
I hear at least once a day that there are not enough hours in a day to make the necessary lifestyle changes for optimal health. Many of my patients are sleeping very little, eating on the go, forgoing physical activity, and laugh when I ask about their libido. "What sex life?" they often respond. Why is it that we are so pressed to find the time we need to take care of ourselves? The answer may be found in a recent New York Times article questioning our culture’s obsession with productivity.
Our bedrooms used to be used for the primary purpose of resting. Now, because of our mobile devices and society’s obsession with productivity, we are often left feeling guilty or lazy for finding solace in our beds. For better or for worse, we are now able to accomplish tasks anywhere, anytime. With so many options of where to direct our attention these days, it can be tough to prioritize our time. I often prescribe one or all of the following lifestyle suggestions as a starting point for my patients:
You are how you eat
When we grab our meals to go or eat while responding to emails, our bodies are unable to properly digest the food we take in. We, physiologically, are designed to digest food while sitting down, in a quiet environment, taking our time, and chewing thoroughly. Going against our physiological needs, because we don’t have time, can lead to an array of symptoms from gas, feeling bloated, and heartburn, to migraine headaches and acne. By taking our time with meals and adequately digesting our food, we are our setting ourselves up for success by minimizing distracting symptoms and optimizing our long-term health.
Move your body
Studies show that physical activity is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness, and combating stress. Something as simple as taking a fifteen-minute break, away from the task at hand, to take a brisk walk is all that is required to boost your overall efficiency and creativity.
Leave your phone, computer, and other devices at the door
Just as you are in the habit of removing your shoes at the door, create a new habit of leaving your electronic devices at the door when coming home for the evening. You will be amazed at how much time you have once your ability to check your emails and social networking sites is not within an arms reach.
Turn down the lights
Minimizing screen time and dimming the lights in the evening allows our body to produce adequate melatonin, a hormone that helps us fall asleep. Sleep is essential to our body's ability to repair and detoxify. A good night's sleep is not a luxury, but a necessity and should be at the top of everyone’s "To Do" list.
I will leave you with a quote from my son’s favorite bedtime story:
"It is true that I am slow, quiet, and boring. I am lackadaisical, I dawdle and I dillydally. I am also unflappable, languid, stoic, impassive, sluggish, lethargic, placid, calm, mellow, laid-back and, well, slothful! I am relaxed and tranquil, and I like to live in peace. But I am not lazy." From Eric Carle’s "Slowly, Slowly, Slowly," said the Sloth.