“How To Slow Down To Do More” With Beau Henderson & Dr. Christian Gonzalez

Our lives would absolutely improve if we slowed it down 100%. Our anxiety would be reduced, our projection into the future would be reduced, and we’d be more in the moment, accessing greater states of peace and balance. We’re talking from shifting from the sympathetic system to parasympathetic, we cannot live our lives rushed. We […]

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Our lives would absolutely improve if we slowed it down 100%. Our anxiety would be reduced, our projection into the future would be reduced, and we’d be more in the moment, accessing greater states of peace and balance. We’re talking from shifting from the sympathetic system to parasympathetic, we cannot live our lives rushed. We cannot rush with urgency.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Christian Gonzalez a Naturopathic Doctor with a specialty in Integrative Oncology. Dr. Gonzalez completed a two-year residency position at the competitive Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He’s also the podcast host of Heal Thy Self, a popular podcast about holistic healing that has nearly 1 million downloads.

As an authority on non-toxic living, his viral “product reviews” on his Instagram have caught the attention of some of the most prominent health brands such as Oatly, whom he’s advised on creating more consumer-education and less chemically-based products.

Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

So the backstory is that I wanted to be a dentist. And my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in school. I went to a few of our appointments when I was in dental school between year one and two, and I was very much so put off by the doctors’ approach towards diet and nutrition.

The recommendations were just so off. They were telling her to eat calorically dense foods like cake, cookies, breads, and pizzas, and to further supplement her “diet” with Boost and Ensure…all the things that I knew she shouldn’t be having.

So I sort of started doing my own research into how I can treat her head to toe inside out from a holistic standpoint, getting her calories but making it nutritious. And that sort of was the spark towards a new career path because I figured I could make a bigger impact on society. If I was able to at least, at the very least, teach cancer patients on how to eat better.

According to a 2006 Pew Research Report report, 26% of women and 21% of men feel that they are “always rushed”. Has it always been this way? Can you give a few reasons regarding what you think causes this prevalent feeling of being rushed?

I think being rushed has gotten worse over the years, particularly with technology, our attention span has reduced, and that reduction in our attention span has caused us to always feel like we need to go faster right like it’s harder for us to even pay attention to a story or a picture on Instagram without rushing to the next thing.

So it gives us a sense of urgency that isn’t necessarily real. But the more that we’re on these media outlets, the more that we are kind of succumbing to this overstimulation that is putting us in a very rushed place. And so it makes sense that 2006 research shows that. I’m sure that it’s even more of a percent at this point in 2020.

Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?

So, based on my experience, being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness because, again, your attention span is reduced. And by being in the act of rushing, you’re never able to actually like let’s say for example if you’re getting something done. And you’re already feeling rushed or being rushed, then you’re already overlooking things that if you were going at a slower pace you’d be able to see and catch.

And that’s just productivity. So the productivity is going to be affected because the sense of urgency is reducing your accuracy, and that’s with anything.

Being rushed can cause harm to our health and happiness because it puts us in a state of anxiety. What we’re doing is we’re putting ourselves outside of the moment. We are projecting to the future, and that is causing that rush. We rush with urgency towards a future right. So when we do that, it puts us in a state of anxiety and anxiety, as we all know, can really affect our health and happiness.

It has a measurable effect on cortisol, specifically our sustained cortisol release, which affects our immune system, affects our brain, affects our digestive system, affects our muscle health, and of course, our mental happiness will never be happy if we’re not in the moment. If we slow down, it’ll actually give us that space to do more.

Something that I used to say in medical school is that I would always feel. I always felt like I had 11 tasks to do in, you know, 10 hours or eight hours. I had so many tests to do. But I always said, the more anxious I am, and the more I have on my plate, the more reason for me to go on a walk.

So, what I would do is, even if I couldn’t afford to go and walk or meditate or do anything during school, I did, because the very act of doing that, actually put me in a place where I was recharged. I was able to clear my head. So basically what I’m saying is that if you allow yourself to create that space, even if you feel rushed or overwhelmed, if you create that space from getting outside of being in that hamster wheel, stepping out of it for a second, breathing, going for a walk, assessing, and clearing your mind, that’s going to increase your productivity and put you in a better place.

On the flip side, can you give examples of how we can do more, and how our lives would improve if we could slow down?

Our lives would absolutely improve if we slowed it down 100%. Our anxiety would be reduced, our projection into the future would be reduced, and we’d be more in the moment, accessing greater states of peace and balance. We’re talking from shifting from the sympathetic system to parasympathetic, we cannot live our lives rushed. We cannot rush with urgency.

We cannot even digest food if we don’t slow down. So, even from the digestive standpoint, it’s going to be affecting us. So especially when we’re eating, especially when we’re digesting, especially when we want our nervous system to be in balance.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed. Can you share with our readers 6 strategies that you use to “slow down to do more”? Can you please give a story or example for each?

1 — Going for a walk, even when you can’t afford it.

That was really helpful for me in school because again, it gave me the inspiration the clarity to stop for a second and get off a hamster wheel.

2 — The same can be said about meditation. That’s number two. Meditation is a really fast way to get you into that now moment and start balancing your nervous system.

3 — Journaling

So if you’re in that hamster wheel again of work work work work, step away and literally just write your feelings. Letting the mind work things out at a slower pace activates the parasympathetic nervous system. Using prompts like:

I feel overwhelmed because…

I feel anxious because…

I feel urgency because…

I feel like I’m neglecting these things at the expense of all this because…

4 — Breath work

This is one of the fastest ways to get you into that parasympathetic nervous system. You can just take a few steps away from whatever you’re doing and start practicing it.

And this is one that actually my mom taught me when I was growing up. She would say just take 10 breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Practicing the exhale breath for five seconds, and then working up to seven or eight, will put your body in a really good place to start to relax. Basically what’s happening when you breathe from your diagram is that you are pushing against a huge nerve that tells your body that it’s okay to relax.

5 — Call someone that’s inspirational to you

Check in with someone that you draw inspiration from, someone that’s peaceful, or maybe someone that gives really good advice. Say that you’re really in that hamster wheel, take a step out of the office or the classroom and pick up the phone and just call someone who you know that will bring you joy and this may be the thing that brings you out of that hamster wheel.

6 — Take a nap

A quick 20-minute power nap can do the trick. Just even going in your car and putting on an eye mask, and for folks that are really tired, putting on headphones. It’s been shown to help increase productivity.

How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?

Mindfulness is basically using all of your senses to bring you back to the now moment and to experience reality as it should be. Everything is sprouting out from the now moment, so if we’re able to be in that moment through mindfulness, then that’s bringing us to a place where we’re in complete balance with everything. The goal is to sustain it.

Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?

What I do that other people can do too that’s very simple and requires no equipment, training, or anything other than your own body is a morning walking meditation.

I don’t walk with anyone, I don’t use music, and I try to keep my mind focused on the present moment. The quickest way to keep the mind in the present moment is the utilize your senses as a tool.

I see what’s around me. I smell what’s around me. I hear what’s around me. I touch what’s around me. Your senses are basically an express lane to mindfulness.

Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?

Do that walk. You don’t necessarily need nature to activate a mindful state in the mind, you just need to activate all of your senses. For instance, if you hear a car pass by, even though it’s not nature, it’s still creation. So if you can hear the car pass by and use your senses, you ca be in that moment.

So it’s a matter of tuning in. You don’t necessarily even need nature.

In fact, doing it at work is one of the best ways to practice a walking meditation.

When I worked at the cancer hospital, it didn’t matter what was going on, how busy my morning was or how busy my afternoon was, I always found time to go outside in the garden. I would go on the trail every single day, even in the winter I go out on the trail and just walk the trail and look at the flowers, or just look at the scenery and my afternoons were on fire. If I didn’t do it, I promise you, I could feel it. My productivity was worse.

If you don’t have access to nature or it’s the wintertime and too cold, you can even practice this exercise by walking mindfully on the stairs. I think there’s a really good example we could share. Mindfully feeling your feet or your shoe hit the stair, and then going on to the next one and then going on to the next one, and then walking up and down. Become aware of the hallways, being aware of your feet, that’s using your sense of touch, and then activating your sense of hearing, what are you hearing in the workplace. Try to go to a place where no one’s going to talk to you, just have some alone time.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices

“The Pocket” by Thich Nhat Hanh. It’s all about mindfulness. It’s a small little book.

Small enough to keep in your purse or at your work desk.

It’s a great book at teaching mindfulness and how to be more mindful overall in your life.

“The Power of Now” is awesome because it teaches you to be in the now moment.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

There is only the now moment.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

30 days of rituals would be creating the most good for the most amount of people here’s why.

Because if people truly understand what carving out time in the morning or time at night can do for their life, everyone would be doing it.

There is no price on how much this can affect you.

It’s priceless how it can allow people to honor themselves and realize things about themselves because it splits you from the experience of being urgent and being rushed, and being hyper-busy all the time.

It splits you and you go, oh okay that’s just a state that I go in, but it’s not me.

You start coming back to yourself. You start remembering yourself. You start putting value on your physical health, on your mental and emotional health, on your spiritual growth. And then you just show up as a better person. 30 days of rituals will be just a game changer for everyone’s life, so long as they stay consistent.

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