What do you see when you look at this image?
The modern malaise
Many of us are suffering from what I call the modern malaise. This is a non-medical condition that describes the challenges we face in the Western world today, particularly with mental health. The stats will give you a clear idea of what I mean – her are some of the key findings from a report published this year by the Mental Health Foundation:
- 65% of people say that experienced a mental health problem
- Only a small minority of people (13%) were found to be living with high levels of positive mental health
- More than 4 in 10 people say they have experienced depression
- Over a quarter of people say they have experienced panic attacks
The symptoms of modern malaise
One of the primary problems is we’re always on – there’s nowhere to hide. Our smartphones keep us connected 24/7 and we are continually interrupted by the ding, buzz or chime of a new alert, message or update.
Dopamine is another problem; many of us have become addicted to our smartphones and other devices. We seek validation and approval from social media and our self-esteem has become inextricably linked with the number of likes, retweets and followers we have. (Bestselling author Simon Sinek talks a lot about this – click here).
Our email inboxes have taken over our lives – we wouldn’t allow someone to write things on our to-do lists for us to action, so why allow emails sent to us by others to dictate our daily to-do list?
Many of us take better care of our smartphones than we do ourselves. I know people who don’t think twice about leaving the house for work on 5 hours sleep and no breakfast, but their smartphones are charged and they have a spare battery in their bag. It’s time to think about our own energy levels before anything else.
Busyness has become our new drug. We measure our self-worth through productivity, and there is always the urge to do more. Expressions like ‘powering on’ and ‘push on through’ are commonly heard in the workplace and competitive presenteeism is rife (people turning up for work despite being sick and competing with other over who works longer hours to appear important).
Many of us have lost the sense of what makes us happy and are doing something deeply unfulfilling and that lacks authenticity. This feeling is toxic and only gets worse as we move through life with the feeling that time is running out and we move further and further away from the hopes and dreams we had when we were young.
We feel tired and wired. Despite being deeply fatigued, we still hit the pillow with head full of thoughts and find it very difficult to switch off even on holiday. Adrenaline suppresses our appetite leaving us malnourished and unable to get to sleep, and dysregulated cortisol wakes us at 4am feeling hyperalert.
Lastly, we are mentally malnourished. We don’t nurture our brains and our minds. We relentlessly drive forward, leaving no time for rest or recovery. The effect this has on mind and body is profound and is making us sick.
So, what can we do?
The good news is, there’s a lot we can do. At Bodyshot, we focus on four key areas of mental health:
- Hormones – be aware of the role of each hormone and the effect it has on your body and your physiology
- Nutrition – eat a plant-based diet and reduce sugar, refined carbs and alcohol
- Mental nourishment – allocate a small amount of time per day to relax, breath, switch off – put yourself in flight mode
- Movement – have a constant level of daily movement; walking, standing rather than sitting, stretching and moving your upper body as well as your legs
Back to the picture….
What did you see in the image above? I took this picture on a hike a few months ago. It reminded me of the power and beauty of nature, and what we can draw from that. This magnificent tree was upended one day by the forces of nature, yet it has found a way to thrive again. We are all capable of this too. We can change direction, grow new roots and find a way to the light. This image to me was one of hope and showed me yet again that we can learn much from nature if we pay attention.
What’s your Health IQ?
If you’re reading this, you’re are probably in a reasonably senior position, running your own business or have a busy life running the home and juggling other responsibilities. Either way, you’re busy. The convergent pressures of work and family life have probably meant that the time you did have to spend on health and fitness has disappeared. Why not talk to us and see how we can help.
Leanne Spencer is an entrepreneur, coach, TEDx Speaker, author of Remove the Guesswork, and founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. Bodyshot is a health and fitness consultancy that helps busy professionals get more energy by removing the guesswork around their health, fitness and nutrition. Visit www.bodyshotperformance.com or email [email protected] to register your interest in our services and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.