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I want what she’s having - in this social media obsessed world

I have always thought of myself as a generally calm and centered person, but a few years ago I would not have seen myself sitting on a rock meditating in the furthest reaches of Australia.

When I was younger both my sisters dabbled in meditation, but I wasn’t ready. I was in my own world and focused on achieving certain things, ticking off the boxes that I thought one had to as we grow up.

Over the past 4-5 years, as I have incorporated health coaching into my physiotherapy, I have been spending much of my time learning about what we can do to cope with the constant stresses of our everyday lives and how we can work towards wellness rather than illness.

Developments in science have particularly tweaked my interest. Studies in epigenetics are now showing that we are able to literally switch on and off certain parts of our DNA, changing the way our bodies respond to the world around us. This change is also able to be passed through our DNA which means that when we work towards positive change for ourselves and those around us, we are also affecting future generations.

These new understandings opened the space for meditation and mindfulness for me and I now integrate both practices in varying forms during my day.

So, why is this important?

There is no stopping our obsession with social media and it pains me to see my generation and that of my kids’ generation falling deeper and deeper into its grasp. Science has shown that our neurochemicals change according to what comes across our screens. Our brains are flooded with dopamine (reward based hormone which fosters our addiction) as we are rewarded with ‘likes’ and cortisol (a stress hormone) when we see others having and doing that which we are not.

The effects of sustained raised cortisol levels are well known to negatively impact many areas of our health and the fabulous work of Judith Glaser, through Conversational Intelligence®, has highlighted how this also negatively affects the way we communicate.

The good news

Happily, developments in neuroscience also continue to support our understanding that we are literally able to change our brains to see opportunities in the challenges around us, increase our ability to cope with adversity and positively affect our neurochemistry to help increase good health.

The antidote to social media then might be to take the time, when we are not plugged in, to change our brains towards good health. There are many ways we can do this and trial and error is the best way to find out which works for each of us. Many people enjoy different sorts of mindfulness activities or meditation - whether it be sitting quietly or perhaps like myself enjoy meditating while running or meditating for a few minutes after a yoga session.

A simple and effective technique I highly recommend is ‘Taking in The Good’ (TIG) by Rick Hanson, a very well respected neuropsychologist. The idea is to pay attention to, and really absorb, the many wonders around us and the positive experiences available to us each day. TIG involves noticing a positive experience, really feeling it in our bodies, making it even greater than it is and absorbing the sensations into every cell of our body as we take a few slow breaths. The brain, as with any muscle, grows stronger the more we exercise it and the benefits are therefore related to the effort one applies. Rick suggests ‘Taking in The Good’ at least 6 times every day.

It doesn’t mean we have to head off to the most farthest stretches of the Northern Territory (though I highly recommend it) to be able to change our brains positively in order to cope with the challenges in our world. Rather my hope is that we can all find moments of calm and gratitude in everyday, perhaps through the many and varied mindfulness or yoga practices, and that we can all build on these to help increase our resilience and lead us to living healthier lives.

If you would like further guidance or support in achieving calm and focus, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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