The Cheetah, famed for its ability to go from zero to sixty miles per hour in three seconds, has hotfooted its way to the upper echelons of the food chain. But like so many things in life, there’s a lesser-known flipside, a dichotomy in behaviour, because in order to be the fastest animal on earth, the Cheetah needs to sleep for 18 hours a day. They, quite literally, sleep their way to success.
The idea that humans also need to disconnect in order to flourish is something that Arianna Huffington, having collapsed from exhaustion, knows only too well. “We take better care of our smart phones than ourselves,” explains Huffington, whose latest book, Thrive, aims to reassess how society measures success. “Look how mindful we are of them. People have little recharging shrines all over their houses and we’re all exquisitely aware of their recharging routine. And yet, on the flipside, with our bodies, our minds and our souls we’ll run them into the ground until they shut down.”
In a 2015 Gallup study, over half of iPhone owners said they couldn’t imagine life without one. More scarily, a series of experiments by Harvard and the University of Virginia into exactly how difficult we now find being alone without things to distract us saw 67 percent of men and 25 percent of women opting to push a button that delivered an electric shock rather than simply sit in a room for 15 minutes without any technology or distractions.
And, it isn’t only technology but our high level of obligations that makes switching off in today’s 24/7 culture increasingly difficult. In her worldwide bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A F*ck, Sarah Knight asks readers to make four separate lists of all the things, friends, work and family that they do and don’t give a f*ck about. When you start seeing your life as a small series of transactions that take up your time and your energy, it becomes clear where imbalances lie, and where disconnecting from certain things in order to reconnect with the ones that really matter has value. Or, as she so succinctly puts it “the number of f*cks you give is a finite and precious commodity. Give too many and you run out – which results in feeling anxious, stressed out, and desperate.”
So, how should we best go about finding some much-needed peace and calm? What are the little tips and tricks we can turn to when the world around us seems too busy?
Switch off through scent
Whether it’s by lighting a candle or switching up your fragrance, scents can trigger an emotional response. Someone who has made it their business to find out which notes do what is Poppy Cross, the Co-Founder of Eym, a 100% natural candle company where each is designed to support a certain part of your emotional health. “My favourite scents for mental wellbeing are Neroli, which is the ultimate oil to soothe the soul and reduce any anxiety or stress and Ylang Ylang – known as ‘the oil of the heart’. It’s not only incredibly healing but also helps you connect to your inner joy. I find lighting candles very ritualistic. There’s something about the moment when you come home from work, run a bath and light your favourite candle, that helps you draw a line between a busy day and allowing yourself to switch off”. eymnaturals.com
Empower your device usage – with an app
The irony of suggesting an app in order to switch off is not lost but with the average person checking their phone 80 times a day, and daily usage coming in at an hour and two minutes (which is the equivalent to a staggering 16 solid days a year), the Moment app is a valuable reality check. Tracking everything from the number of times you pick up your phone, to the exact time spent on each app, it also allows you to set usage aims. Trust us, there’s nothing like being confronted with your own daily tally to make you realise that putting the phone down and disconnecting for a while will win back precious free time. inthemoment.io
Photo: Farrel Nobel
Be inspired by ancient wisdom
“Emotional stress builds tension in your body and it affects your sleep, immunity and overall health,” explains Katie Brindle, founder of the acclaimed Hayo’u Method. “The good news is that releasing this tension by yourself is easier than you’d think – thanks to a Chinese Medicine technique called Gua Sha, which activates the circulatory system to clear congestion and physical blockages. Simply press and stroke the whole upper chest area using a Gua Sha Body Restorer (a heart-shaped piece of Jade), massaging the skin to free up and loosen stagnation. Treating the chest is great for anxiety, for calming your mind and helping to deepen your breath – so much so that nine out of 10 women report better sleep after just one-minute of use.” hayoumethod.com
Be informed by herbal medicine
“Whether as a primary treatment or to complement conventional or holistic methods, the medicinal benefits of herbs are vast,” explains Naturopathic Iridologist and Herbologist and Ikigai Thought Leader, Rachel Landan. “Each herb contains a group of valuable constituents and minerals that aid the body in many ways from strengthening our immune systems to calming the mind.” Try her Wilder Calm & Support infusion, which was formulated to help relax, reconnect and rebalance with its nourishing mix of young oat tops rich in alkaloids, chamomile to support the immune, digestive and nervous systems (especially when feeling irritable and overwhelmed), flavonoids and minerals that help get the body back on track when feeling exhausted (both emotionally and physically) by acting as a gentle stimulant and/or a mild sedative (depending on your bodies need) and lavender to relax the mind and transport you to a place of serenity. wilderbotanics.com
A happy gut is a calmer mind
“The gut contains the second largest number of neuron cells after the brain and the huge entity of bacteria that live there impact on the neuron cells to influence our moods and emotional wellbeing” explains Dr Domenig, Head Medical Doctor at FX Mayr. “Added to that we all eat too much, too fast, too late at night and gradually wear down our digestive systems. Our stomachs can take up to four hours to process a meal, so it’s not wise to dump fresh food on top of nearly digested food. Try to have a few days eating only raw foods before 4pm. Once your digestive system is cleansed, rested and you begin to eat the right things properly – which means chewing each mouthful at least 30 times – you can absorb nutrients and the liver can do its job, kick-starting better overall health.” original-mayr.com
The breathing technique
“One of the quickest ways to switch off is using something called Conscious Connected Breathing,” explains Federica Ferro, Meditation and Breath Work Coach at Global Breathing Awareness. “Conscious breathing is a practice that allows you to learn how to breath energy rather than air and use this powerful tool to ground you physically, calm you emotionally, and align you with your soul/higher self.” First start by taking a very deep breath in and out. This simple gesture calms your nervous system and gives you a feeling of safety and control. Then you can begin an exercise known as The 20 Connected Breaths. Take your chin down, breath gently in and out through the nose keeping your breaths connected (no pausing between inhale and exhale – like waves in the ocean). Take four short breaths and one as long and as deep as possible, before repeating four times. It literally takes two minutes and will make you instantly feel more grounded, calm and clear. globalbreathingawareness.com