Time to listen to the mind-body connect and take note.
Mindfulness. Wellness. Heath. These aren’t new concepts in fact for 100’s of years philosophers from Aristotle to Epicurus have pondered the concept of flourishing. I suppose these days we’re more likely to call it thriving but it all means the same thing. My 30 years as a brand developer in the pharmaceutical and food consumables market have taught me the importance of a healthy work-life balance. Yet often it seems that the two are diametrically opposed. A boss’s push for higher sales figures isn’t the fastest route to a relaxing evening.
The impasse most of us reach inevitably gives way to stress and forces us to confront the knowledge that we are not doing everything we can to look after ourselves. We’re not taking the time to breathe, to be mindful or to be present. Before we know it the kids are off to School University, and work and settling into the same patterns that we fell into at some point. The same patterns we told them they could avoid if they did the right thing, and conformed.
Now the last year or two we’ve all witnessed the horrifying hospital scenes caused by the onset of a global pandemic. Prior to this year not many of us could imagine what a national lockdown would feel like. That changed in 2020. Thousands of jobs were lost as all “non-essential businesses” were closed down and as everything began to change around us, and the future looked even more uncertain, I think we began to find comfort in the things that remained unchanged; My dog walks in the park for example (although even the dogs seemed a little afraid to offer each other the usual cursory sniff).
Left with nothing but ourselves many of us decided that that’s exactly what we’d work on - Ourselves. Soon enough people were flooding the parks to go on daily runs, or working out at home every morning with Joe Wicks. They even resurrected Mr. Motivator! But let’s not pretend that we all caught the health bug. Some of us took the forced international sabbatical as the perfect excuse to sit on the sofa for a year consuming too many beers, or too many boxsets - or both. Whichever direction we went in, our experiences were unified by the fact that we were all afforded something very precious and increasingly rare. Time to think. Time to assess our situation, and time to recognise the impact that our “normal lives” were having on both our mental and physical well-being.
The balancing act we have all performed in the past is changing and the changes are here to stay.
You see our busy working lives, although seemingly normal, tend to revolve around the constant application of pressure. There’s a tension that exists between the impossible deadlines, the cancelled trains, and your bosses most recent unreasonable demands. We’re kept in a constant state of fight or flight, because as far as our brain is concerned, what we’re communicating to it, is that we’re under threat. As the day wears on and the tension continues to build the limbic system steps in to do what it does best, and begins to release stress hormones that tell our brain that we had better be prepared to scrap or scarper. Adrenaline begins to increase our heart rate so that our blood flows more freely and we begin to breathe faster and deeper, and suddenly all of the internal apparatus that are designed to protect us, turn on us. The constant stream of stress-related hormones, appropriately referred to as the devil’s cocktail, course through our systems to such extent that they begin to negatively affect not only our mood but our memory, our capability to learn, our behaviour. When laid out like this the resultant collective burnout is understandable.
If this is the normal we’re trying so hard to get back to, maybe we need some new plans.
When the world stopped turning some of us saw an immediate positive impact. Yes, the financial adjustments and pocket tightening came with their problems, but for the most part, the daily stresses - the constant pounding was gone. Left with one hour of freedom a day, this time outside suddenly felt like a blessing. The anxiety caused by the pandemic encouraged people to be proactive in seeking out, tutorials or videos on breathing exercises or yoga or meditation. Health and fitness app downloads witnessed a 46% spike in popularity worldwide according to the World Economic Forum with apps like MyFitness Pal, Calm, Headspace and Mind valley all seeing huge increases. Facebook live has become the go-to destination for yoga with Kundalini, Hathe, restorative and both hot and cold yoga receiving a great deal of attention and picking up swathes of new devotees.
We were given the chance to consider the things that matter and the things that actually make the greatest difference to our lives, and a lot of these changes represent what Blanck is all about. Finding ways to live a more fulfilled life. The secret’s in the name… We want people to Blanck out the noise and recognise that there was never anything normal about the cycle of work-based stresses that this last couple of years has forced many of us to break. Lockdown encouraged us to move in healthier directions that placed our wellbeing first and, technology is here to help facilitate this change.
I want to share some of the tools that I have found useful to help me through moments of stress - not only through Covid but through all the demands of everyday life that help me to Blanck out the noise and stay focussed.
These will be in the form of blogs and will include:
- Positive Self Talk
- The Power of Change
- Staying Focussed
- Getting Outside
This last couple of years has birthed many struggles and many triumphs, but we take lessons from our misfortunes and they will remain with us to form the guiding principles for a healthier, more balanced and happier way of living.