“Comfort comes as a guest, lingers to become a host and stays to enslave us.”
— Linguist, Lee Bickmore
Actively staying healthy requires of us that we leave our comfort zone, and do it often.
Let me explain.
What is this comfort zone I am speaking of? It’s the patterns your brain has formed, your habits. It’s the stuff you do on auto-pilot.
In this article, I will demonize the not-so-good patterns to make a point.
The Doritos, candy and sugary drinks/treats. The eating of food stuff that comes in wrappers that you quickly grab while paying for gas. The actions that, albeit small in size, harm us over time.
Sitting. Lounging too much. Getting too few hours of sleep. Skipping your workout or movement session. The intake of harmful elective medications or chemicals. Cigarettes and too much booze.
We must work to understand more about the process of health if we expect to achieve it, and that starts for you today with learning more about your brain and how it’s adapted to your patterns and choices.
What happens when we do stuff and things…
Each time you consciously choose to follow through on something (think in the simplest of terms, for example, you choose to get up and get a glass of water)
1-you coordinate a pretty extensive network of brain cells to process the thought
2-engage your muscle systems and move to a new location
3-acquire and ingest the water
4-head back to your desk
Every time you repeat a seemingly simple process like this, your brain get’s a little more comfortable with the action and allows more autonomous processing of the whole experience for you. Think about when you’ve driven somewhere and upon arrival, you wondered where the time went during your commute. Scientists refer to this as “chunking” of time. Also of note, you don’t “chunk” new experiences. No one ever “chunked” their first presentation for 100 people or their first time downhill skiing.
Fortunately for us, we are afforded the neurological luxury to coast through huge amounts of the stuff that our brain can simply complete on auto-pilot. Activities such as scanning for a safe environment by using our sensory systems, keeping the heart pumping along at the appropriate rate and adapting for activity all whilst reminding all of the cells in your body to continue working to keep your biology going. “Chunking” comes in handy, sometimes!
Okay, Dr. Cory, how will this help me with MY brain?
The life-changer to take home from here is that your brain doesn’t care about WHAT you choose when you get t0 the decision-making part of this process. If you are thirsty, you’ll get up and get something and return to your previously scheduled program.
I am here to say that right then, at this most crucial point in your auto-pilot, you need to Interrupt your pattern.
I will have my patients who are working on RECOVERY of stress instead of ONLY MANAGEMENT, place sticky notes in places they are most likely to practice their breathing drills in a way to prepare them for oncoming stress. On the bathroom mirror for that morning and nighttime reminder to calm their brain state with breathing. On the dash of the car so proper breathing continues through stressful commutes, traffic, etc. On the desk at work, so today isn’t the day they finally tell their boss off or karate kick the water cooler over in frustration.
These little notes are a pattern interrupt.
They force them to CHANGE the way they autopilot in the movement, when their previous patterns were damaging to them.
What to do, what to do…
The perfect “next step” for you is to try something new. Interrupt your self-dictated “worst pattern” with something little and healthy.
Maybe it’s trying some new foods and boosting your stress recovery with a little “me time” after you get home from your normal busy day.
Maybe you want to move more right when you tend to be most tired and wiped out each day. Movement activities give your brain a “spark” of electrical activity that balances body function and chemical brain settings resulting in a more balanced and adaptable system. It’s not hard to get your body moving a little bit to get your brain humming and those recovery systems pumping. Start with a 10 minute walk at 2 different times in your day. It’s recommended by the American Heart Association that we all get a little more than 20 minutes of exercise/movement every day, outside of normal daily activities.
Meaning movement to move, not just locomotion to commute to and from work or the grocery store. Sometimes I simply set my morning routine to 10 minutes early, and I calmly walk around my yard with the dog for 10 extra minutes before I start a day of traveling house call appointments.
Don’t forget your attitude when you head out the door tomorrow
Making a healthy lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight, and if you are doing it right, you will have many tiny failures to learn from each week, month, and year along the journey. Don’t let this get you down. I have a doctorate degree in being healthy and I still eat gelato once in a while and at least once a month I skip a day of workouts because I also like to live dangerously.
During pattern interrupting, YOU MUST lift your spirits with intention and do what is difficult everyday when it really counts. YOU MUST be happy to try, even if you fail. When is the last time you saw someone who is the pinnacle of health, who was unhappy they had worked hard to produce that state of health?
I mean, I say salty comments out loud every time I work out. Catch me about 10 minutes into a workout and I will probably look as if I have just agreed to pay my property taxes twice this year.
But inside? Deep down? I know that I am prolonging the good quality of life that I am after as I age. I see myself in 25 or 35 years with youthful enthusiasm, enjoying life and health. That picture of my future is a pretty huge driver for me, and I attach that emotion to everything that is hard for me to do so I can stick with it.
Do yourself a favor today, and interrupt a poor-choice pattern with something positive and healthy. I guarantee you will get good at that one thing and before you know it, you’ll be chunking a new healthy pattern into your routine.
Don’t get comfortable!
If you want help with change, please reach out to me with this form and I will gladly participate in your free, 15 minute phone consultation. Cheers to the first step in creating healthy, new patterns moving forward!
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