Still vs. Not Still: The Gains of Slowing Down

By Martha Michael

Healthy Solitude

Spending time in solitude -- enjoying peace and quiet in an atmosphere of uninterrupted silence -- has many benefits. But in a busy, loud society, it requires a conscious effort to find those spaces and carve out that kind of time.

An article on the PsychCentral website offers several reasons why we all could use some quiet time to get the most out of life.

Rest and renew - As humans, we need downtime -- just like a computer or any other mechanism needs to be shut down at times. Taking periods of rest is a form of maintenance, where you resist the drive to press on at the expense of your physical and emotional self.

Finding what’s important - When you overindulge in activity, it’s easy to lose sight of your goals. But by carving out time for reflection you can revisit your priorities to determine if you’re still on the right track. For instance, you may decide to eliminate activities that simply fill time without offering you a substantial benefit.

Sense of order - Continually expanding our commitments and activities sometimes leads to chaos. Quiet time can work to unravel the results of overactivity and make you more mentally calm.

Spiritual renewal - It’s easy to miss the goodness of humanity when you operate at the speed of light. Integrating moments of renewal into your schedule offers you the chance to become more spiritually centered. Some individuals practice mindful meditation, which can help you maintain a more positive perspective.

Stress reduction - By definition, spending time in peace and calm is a stress-reducing exercise. For many people, the main purpose in taking time for meditation or a simple break from the daily grind is to obtain the health benefits of distancing yourself from daily stressors.

Healing - Patients recovering from surgery are often placed in dark, quiet rooms for maximum rest. When battling illness, it helps to eliminate unnecessary interruptions so you can put all your energy toward the process of recovery.

Pitfalls of a Sedentary Lifestyle

There are times when a person needs to add periods of quiet and calm to achieve balance, but in the case of some individuals, their routine needs to include more activity -- not less.

It’s difficult to counteract the negative effects of an overall sedentary lifestyle, according to an article on LifeSpanFitness.com. Though a healthy diet and exercise is helpful, you need to alter your routine if you typically spend long periods of time sitting.

It’s estimated that inactivity causes 6 percent of cases of coronary heart disease; 7 percent of incidences of type 2 diabetes; 10 percent of breast cancer cases; and 10 percent of the numbers of patients with colon cancer.

Like all societal trends, there are long-ranging effects that have an impact on health. The move toward more sedentary jobs, mostly due to the growth of technology, has caused many changes to the lives of Americans, including:

  • Higher levels of obesity
  • Decrease in skeletal muscle mass
  • Greater incidence of anxiety and depression
  • Higher medical spending

The good news is you don’t have to lay idly by while your office job causes physical problems for you. There are tools to offset the effects of excessive sitting.

Regular visits to the chiropractor enable you to consult with an expert in devising strategies to infuse more activity into your lifestyle. Your chiropractor can help design an exercise program and advise you where your diet is concerned, if necessary. Chiropractic visits are also a way to minimize the pain that may begin to plague you from too much time in a chair.

Furniture designers have ergonomic workspaces that give you more time standing. Consider a treadmill or bike desk so you can exercise while working. Or see if your employer approves a sit-stand workspace so you don’t spend the entire day on your backside.

It’s a bit uncomfortable to face the negative effects of situations you can’t entirely control -- such as conditions at your job. But it’s a good reminder to do what you can to offset health issues that arise. And thankfully, as more technology is created to make your life simpler, there are also inventions so you can lay to rest any fears of the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

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