Are we doing it harder than those gone before us? Are we less resilient in today’s culture than before? Have we evolved, or regressed? People now have a longer life expectancy, but are we actually living, or merely surviving?
The human body is an amazing thing, capable of miracles beyond conscious thought every second of the day. The fact that it survives and functions for as long as it does is a miracle in itself when you look at what we do to it. Why then are we so baffled when things go astray and dysfunction, illness, and disease show up? No machine ever created could do what the human body is capable of doing. Cancer didn’t arrive one day and start to take over the world. No, we have just pushed the body to a limit where it is in-capable of successfully adapting to its environment.
I’m not sure anyone can confidently say whether we are, or are not, doing it harder than our ancestors. How could they when this is the only time we actually know?! What I am certain of though is the ‘changing landscape’ of stress that we now have to deal with on a daily basis. What was once considered life’s biggest threat/stress – getting chased down by a Lion and eaten, is now not the case. Some believe the human body has evolved with time to be able to cope and adapt to the stress that we place upon it. The truth of the matter is though that the human body evolves at a much slower pace than we dare to believe, in fact our genome has only evolved 1/10 of a single percent in the past 45,000 years! This isn’t to say that we are a victim of our genes. Science has taught us that by changing our environment, we can change our genetic expression.
Where we struggle in todays world is not just the type of stress – mortgage payments, bank loans, expectations, relationships, etc., but the sustained nature of them. Our bodies were never designed to cope with the constant bombardment of stress that exists today. It’s ‘death by a thousand paper cuts’.
The ‘fight and/or flight’ response of your sympathetic nervous system, activated when you are in a threatening/stressful situation, is a short term response of the body to get you out of danger, and back to a non-threatening environment. Your heart rate and blood pressure increases (to transport needed blood components to the right areas of the body), blood is channelled away from the internal organs toward the extremities (increasing the ability to move), pupils are dilated (to improve vision), bronchioles are dilated (allowing you to breath faster), and digestion and immunity are momentarily inhibited to make way for more important function in that situation… survival! The problem lies in the fact that the body cannot differentiate between; the stress of a Lion chasing you, and your next bank payment going out at the end of the week.
The great thing about the body’s response to the Lion is that it is going to be short lived; either you get away, and return back to homeostasis (balanced bodily state), or you get eaten! In both cases however, the sympathetic nervous system de-activates. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the bank loan. The majority of today’s population live in a low, sustained, dormant state of sympathetic activation, which plays havoc on the body – both physically, and mentally. Your sympathetic nervous system was never designed to be active continuously. It’s like buying a brand new car and never allowing the engine to turn off, with your foot slightly on the accelerator; you are only going to get so much mileage out of it until it ceases to function at all.
Think of life on a sliding scale; you are either sliding up the spectrum toward life expression or, sliding down toward death expression. We can apply this model of thinking to everything we do, every meal we eat, every thought we manifest. It’s about taking ownership of who you are, where you are currently at, and where you are going. Unplugging from the ‘matrix’ and taking control of your own health, and the performance you are putting out to the world.
It’s futile expending energy on the things we cannot change, but imperative to be conscious of the things we can if we want to succeed in life. To create an environment which supports health, life, and performance, not dis-ease, illness, and death. A lot of factors in life may appear to be beyond our control, but by optimising your environment and changing the things that are in your control, you set the stage for achievement.
There exist six genuine lifestyle factors that you can control which will have a direct influence on your energy levels, resilience, and overall life performance;
- eating the types of food which make you function at your best
- avoiding those foods that tax the body
- taking in the right amount of fuel at the right times
- discovering how much you need in order for your body to function optimally
- avoid chemical loading
- knowing how much your body needs
- utilising the body’s own natural repair cycle
- avoiding the common environmental traps of today
- conscious breathing – learning the language of the body to talk to the body
- Thoughts and mind, and
- utilising affective techniques to bridge the gap between the mind and body
- taking back control of the rampant mind
- moving to nourish the body
- Knowing what to do and when
By focussing your initial efforts in these six areas you are guaranteed of making a difference in your life. This was the motivation behind the launch of Outspoken Lifestyle, an ongoing drive to step away from the ‘patch-fixing’ health paradigm that is so prevalent today, where people can feel confident they are evolving, not revolving.
Control and optimise what you can, the rest will follow!
Dr Harley K.