When I was a young girl, some of my favorite TV shows were The Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman and the $6 Million Man. I loved watching these super-powered heroes because they were able to perform incredible feats of strength, courage and stamina that were not available to we mortals. Just thinking that there were “humans” out there that could exceed mere mortal expectations was inspiring.
Today I think many of us feel we have to be like these super powers. Using computers, cell phones, social media, over-scheduling, long hours, apps and multi-tasking may help us feel super-powered, but many times this leads to increased stress levels that are not beneficial to our overall health or even the health of our children and marriages. I have tried many times to be Wonder Woman and all I accomplished was wondering what the heck I was doing to myself??
Most of us have heard that stress can be negative, but most of us don’t truly understand what that means. The concept of actually managing your stress is relatively new. On one side of the coin, stress can be a motivation to produce great ideas and implementation of these ideas. On the other hand, the need to “manage” that stress means that stress can ultimately be negative for our mental, emotional and physical health. When a person is under excessive stress for long periods of time, your body cannot stand the “’pressure”. Your adrenals, which pump out stress hormones become weakened and cannot keep up with the increased demand. Since the adrenals also pump out sex hormones, the production of sex hormones may decrease or become imbalanced causing other problems in the body. Stress also can start unknown fires in your body increasing inflammation. OUCH! This may also add undo pressure on the immune system, thus weakening it and setting you up for cancer and breast cancer. You see, the immune system is an amazing Homeland Security system, but if it is overwhelmed and putting out too many “fires” at one time, it can miss something. Cancer is very opportunistic and hides and conceals itself from your immune system. So you want your security system working properly so don’t overbook and overwhelm it.
How did we become so stressed and overwhelmed these days?
The show 60 Minutes recently did a segment discussing the addictive aspects of computer and smart phone. You know TECHNOLOGY! The tech giants of Silicon Valley know how these tools are addictive and play upon that to keep us tied to our phones waiting for the next “ding” that releases adrenaline and cortisol from our adrenal glands. This release of cortisol many times per day keeps your Brain excited and needing more of this “high”. When the phone is “silent” we can go through an actual withdrawal, which can be very uncomfortable. Software companies can even track and save the “LIKES” and deliver them in volume to individuals to keep them engaged and therefore, addicted. It really is like junkies waiting for their next “high” but we are addicted to technology. I have been at parties where women are sitting at a table to engage in conversation and each one of them has their cell phone sitting on the table in front of them. Waiting and eager for their phone to beep, buzz or vibrate! Of course, this also means they are not fully present in the moment to share, communicate and be engaged with the women who are sitting right in front of them! Have we really sunk that far??
If you’re experiencing overwhelm and multi-tasking symptoms such as anxiety, depression, stomach issues, panic attacks and stress, here are a few tips that may help:
- Explore the reasons you are multi-tasking. Is it due to outside pressures or internal pressures to over perform to get validation or approval from others. Are you saying “YES” to people just to please them when a simple, polite NO would do? Choosing a more content and balanced life with the ability to say NO is much healthier and honest.
- Are your daily To Do Lists too long and unreasonable? Visualize and write a list that is more manageable, doable and therefore, less stressful. Be like Scarlett O’Hara from gone With The Wind. One of her famous lines in that movie is: Tomorrow is another day!
- What about your children? Are they over scheduled? So many times I see children so busy with little to no down time – even time to just “be” and think. For some reason, parents think that their children have to be enrolled in every activity offered. Kids go from one event to another with Moms rushing them around like chickens with their heads cut off. Life is not meant to be hectic. Monkey See, Monkey Do. Slow down and practice new, healthier behaviors and allow your kids to do the same. Children should have down time to sit and be creative using their imaginations.
- Set a few minutes aside each and every day to close your eyes and breathe deeply. Turn OFF all phones and computers and focus on the silence and calm. Quiet the mind and enjoy being present with YOU and your environment. Connect with your body and listen.
- One day a week, turn your phone and computer OFF for the day. Most of you are having a panic attack right now just thinking of doing this. But, instead of thinking how you’re going to “disconnect”, think of how you’ll “connect” with the people you love.
There really is no empirical data yet showing overuse syndrome using phones and computers and how this affects our brain, behavior and relationships. However, when you find yourself unable to part with your phone, feel anxious, reactive, impulsive, or overwhelmed, remember you are human and not a super power! Your health and the health of your breasts depend on you slowing down, smelling the roses and engaging in the quiet and simple pleasures of life. And turn OFF technology!! One day a week, I totally disconnect from all computers and Smart phones. Believe it or not, it actually is liberating and brings me back to my childhood of getting outside, playing with friends and connecting with neighbors. Lovely, stress-free and great for health and healthy breasts!