Distraction of the Senses: Entertaining to Overwhelming

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Drive to an average shopping mall and your senses will be hyper-stimulated. As you enter, you’ll encounter the sights of cars backing out, flashing lights, and warning signs. If you visit a home improvement store, you’ll hear sirens, forklifts, saws racing across boards, overhead announcements and hundreds of conversations. Take a stroll on a city street and become inundated with the smells of car exhaust and perfumed strangers.

All-in-all we are living in an amazingly complex time for the senses, and inside our brains, we are desperately searching for solutions to weed out potentially dangerous events from desirable stimuli. Our senses are constantly stimulated and distracted.  Internally, chemicals are released to pump out hormones to increase our awareness, to focus our attention. With prolonged occurrences the very stimuli that are meant to protect us can begin to cause us harm.

One way in which many of us begin to note harm is in our patterns of sleeping and waking. Insomnia and the racing mind are signs that we may need to take a step back and let our minds relax more. Sleeplessness over time can lead to a lack of cellular rejuvenation, and can lead to dangerous accidents when our brains can no longer focus.

As humans overwhelmed by life buzzing around us, we are becoming increasingly dependent on substances to cope. There are stimulants like caffeine for those who are just trying to keep up, and there are depressants like alcohol for those that just want to mellow out. Sugar and refined carbohydrates are sometimes used for a quick dopamine rush.  When trying to heal an already taxed nervous system, I advise people to withdraw from these substances with the knowledge that they will require a few days to weeks to recover during the withdrawal phase. It may take a while to feel “normal” upon stopping.

5 steps for success in hectic times:

  1. Buy less – Shopping malls, department stores, entertainment stores. They are all ways to try to get us to buy more, but the truth is we are often already overwhelmed with the stuff we have. We have stuff to clean, put away, give away, haul away, and we keep buying more stuff. Before buying more, ask yourself if you would benefit in any way doing without. Would you save more money, accrue less debt, have more space, help the environment.
  2. Spend more time in natural environments – The mind becomes calm when surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature. Running water, the smell of a fresh breeze, the sites of clouds floating by overhead….these are things to make us thankful. In natural environments, our bodies begin to unwind.
  3. Keep your body clean – Eating more vegetables and fruits grown naturally keeps our digestive system healthy. Healthy digestion is equal to better cardiovascular health and better blood sugar regulation. When our blood sugar is stable, our minds are able to function more clearly. To deal with all the chronic stresses of the world, we must keep our brains healthy to assimilate and process it all.
  4. Have a good team – Even doctors go to doctors, and massage therapists can benefit from a massage. Surround yourself with a good set of professionals with skills that benefit your relaxation and health care. Try something new like massage therapy, counseling or acupuncture to calm an already stressed nervous system. Even a trip to a spa or salon can be beneficial for relaxation.
  5. Laugh about your mistakes – In a modern world so full of complexity, sometimes we just need to laugh at our faults. We are humans under extraordinary pressure and we are flawed, all of us. Not one person within our world is the perfect human. Therefore, we must accept our mistakes and forgive ourselves and others. Forgive where you can, and forget where you can’t forgive. Try to move on with dignity and joy. Then you have one less thing to worry about.