Your homeostasis has reset! What to do.

I went camping and had NOTHING to do. So I sat down and looked around. It suddenly became apparent that I was BORED SILLY!

How is that possible I meditate, do Tai Chi, eat mindfully, exercise daily, have a therapy dog….. I also work a lot, busy kid, busy life and my homeostasis (1) has reset. I have become normalized to being busy and always active. Some would say my Allostatic load (2) has misfired and I agree but I will leave allostasis for another article.

I am CONSTANTLY telling people at the clinic they need to sloooooow down and get some real rest. Most say they have no time. I think many have lost touch with the ability to sit still and just be.

I am going to Fiji in the fall and most of the websites say you need to be aware of Fiji time (3). Now I have been to my share of countries where the speed of service is radically slower than Canada. I spent 6 years in the Caribbean and I have countless stories of people living a slower paced life than us and for the most part I think they are happier.

Imagine back to the days of leisurely meals, Sunday picnics, games after supper, time sitting with each other doing not much of anything. Just letting the body rest and enjoying good company.

For sure there is limits to how much rest and down time we need. There is a balance, I am just saying for most people we are on the busy side of the equation.

There is a great book by a B.C. Doctor Gabor Mate, When the body says No. (4) It came out 2003 or 2004 and it was a big step for a mainstream doctor to link stress and chronic disease together. Basically when a person pushes their body’s too far, the body says no and illness results. If you read the book and have one of those illnesses, take it easy on yourself. I doubt much of western medicine agrees with the book. I agree that long term negative affect stress will amplify disease and may allow it to overcome normal immune function.

There is a great story for people in high stress states where they really have lost touch with ‘normal’.
A fish out of water.
A turtle is swimming down the ocean and says to the fish as it goes by. “Water sure is nice today”. The fish look at each other and say, “what is water”. The turtle realized these fish never leave the water and have no idea that they are surrounded by water at all times. So it grabs one gently and takes it out of the water to show it what water is. The turtle is so proud of this great accomplishment. He says “look there, that’s water”. The fish is completely freaking out unable to breathe, the turtle figures it’s time to take his buddy back to the water. The fish gets back in the water and takes some deep breaths. Looks at the turtle and says “you tried to kill me”.

Sometimes it is tough to tell another what they really need to hear.

I suggest we all sit down sometimes and do nothing. When my kid says “I am bored” and I say “boredom is a skill to be developed” (5). The ability to be bored is very valuable as it allows the mind and body to process. For this article the main value is to help reset homeostasis to a more normal level. Always being on the go will lead to per-mature death, illness, disease but it’s true some people will go a lot longer than I would have bet.

Most of the world does not go at the North American pace, even our grandparents did not go at this pace. So I think our current culture is driving this productivity, activity too much.

Like any skill we are born with. Remember when a little wooden cube would keep your baby occupied? Regaining the ability to be still and let the body truly relax will take time and needs to be done gently. It’s not beach body boot camp, where you can just go to a retreat for 2 weeks and come back reset. It may help, I have worked at one of those places for 25 years and I have seen miracles happen for sure, but mostly I just see the smallest changes.

But like everything it starts with small. I suggest you read Atomic habits or Tiny habits and put “down time” into your life.

For 28 years I have been in the clinic dealing with people everyday where their body has just lost some of it’s ability to manage systems. Think of a common one, insomnia (6). The regulation of sleep is processed by the homeostatic physiology of the circadian rhythm. If we cook those rhythms by a myriad of possibilities: variable sleep/wake times, variable eating times, variable light source and types too late at night. Many people lose the ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. It is very common and ask around you will find someone that has it, are they enjoying that? PS. tell them to come see me.

There are so many illnesses I see that can be accelerated by a lack of down time. But what about being busy? I have responsibilities! Am I saying just go to Fiji and take it easy. This may sound harsh.

I have someone I know who is not well, not well at all. Likely they will not get well. When I asked her does she think her busy lifestyle has been a factor in getting to this spot. She said, yes. I can tell you money may help a person get out of a spot like this, but time will rule and you never get time back.

It is one story of thousands I have from my time in the clinic.

I will end with a personal story. One of the hundreds of self development courses I took a guy said. “in order to stay in balance for along time you will need to be out of balance for some times. Just be careful”

A long time ago I was given an opportunity that changed my life and that of my family for ever. I got a crappy job with huge potential. I worked 15 hours a day, 7 days a week. My food was made for me, I had a person that cleaned and made my room. All I did was sleep, eat, work. I did that for about 7 months. Then one day I was found passed out, I had fallen onto the floor and some blood had come out my ears! I was taken to the hospital and everything was fine. So I decided to be cautious and only work 12 hours a day. It was hard work mentally and physically. After 5 months of that I went on vacation and basically sat on a beach and drooled (I am half joking) for a year! I went back and the rest is history. It was a huge combination of hard work, opportunity and luck.

When people tell me they are overwhelmed I can honestly say, yup I get that and I get how a person can get there.
Sometimes it is like me by jumping in with both feet and learning to swim in my new job. In others it is a slow progression towards imbalance.

I just hope when someone is sitting with me, one day, and I am close to death I still think my time out of balance was worth it.

Get some rest.

Be Well,
Ward Willison R.Ac.
Kelowna Acupuncture & Other Natural Therapies

1. Homeostasis is the body’s desire to keep you operating within parameters that keep you alive. A common example is body temperature. You only work between certain body temperatures, too hot and you start to sweat to cool down. Too cold and you start to shiver to warm up. Your body does it’s best to keep you alive but it can only do so much. Many people (I am one of them) think several illness/diseases are caused when the body can not keep the homeostasis within proper operating limits.

2. Allostatic load for a description click this

3. Fiji time click this

4. Gabor Mate website, Gabor Mate’s book at the Kelowna library.

5. One of many articles on the value of boredom.

6. The role of busy in Insomnia.

7. Good website for slowing down

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