(…and what you can do about it).
So you’re rocking the paleo lifestyle… you’ve given up grains and you can barely remember life before coconut oil.
Paleo is a return to a simpler, more natural way of living. It’s about reclaiming that connection to your primal self and being in sync with what feels good for your body.
First, you start eating more primally and then the next thing you know, you’re getting into natural movement and spending more time in the great outdoors.
Ultimately, the real power of the paleo lifestyle is that it gets you asking the question of “What’s natural for the human animal?” (which is the last thing the rest of society is thinking about!) It’s a brilliant question!
And that question means that any primal devotee worth their Himalayan salt can tell you that we weren’t designed to slump in chairs for hours on end, chowing down on Oreos and KFC.
But for all the ‘standing desks’ in the world… we’re just not living in an environment that’s natural for us humans…
The modern world in which we find ourselves is crazy!
Today’s world is a place that’s filled with a constant stream of stress triggers… moving house, divorce, money (or the lack of it), ridiculously long work days, wars and that stupid bleeping way that other people drive.
And just as we aren’t meant to fill our bodies with junk food, we also weren’t designed to have our minds filled with noise of this non-stop stress.
Think about it…
Way back when we lived in a more natural environment, we’d be in the stress response a tiny amount of the time. Only real threats from real things like bear-size hyenas and sabre-toothed cats would trigger our stress response and get us primed to sting like Ali or bolt like Bolt.
STRESS RESPONSE 101
- Your brain interprets a situation as threatening your safety.
- Your brain activates the fight or flight response, flooding your body with the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.
- Your heart pumps faster, your blood pressure rises, blood is diverted from your organs to your major muscles, your brain gets more oxygen, and your liver produces extra sugar.
- Non-essential bodily functions (e.g. your digestion, saliva production and parts of your immune system) are shut down to some degree.
- You are now primed to fight or flee.
And then when we’d fought the predator off (or more likely… run off screaming), we’d drop back into our natural state – at ease, in flow and resourceful.
However in today’s crazy modern world, our feelings of stress aren’t triggered by being chased by a scary, hairy animal. Nowadays, there’s rarely anything ‘out there’ that’s putting us in any real danger… instead we’re conditioned to be triggered by things such as overflowing inboxes, running late and social expectations.
Our brains are interpreting non-life-threatening situations as being life-threatening. This means our heads are constantly filled with stressful thoughts of “I need to do this now!”, “I can’t do that.”, “I’m not good enough for that.”, “I should do this.”
So our stress is simply created by our thinking. I’ll say that again because it’s so easy to miss the implications of this… Our stress is created by our stressful thoughts in the moment.
And this means that in today’s crazy modern world, most people are in the stress response a huge proportion of the time.
We get stressed and then we stay stressed
So what happens to the human body when we’re stuck in the stress response? It can…
- Cause weight gain or loss.
- Create digestive issues like diarrhea or constipation, reducing the absorption of nutrients.
- Increase your risk of diabetes.
- Compromise your immune system, making you more susceptible to viruses, diseases and infections.
- Cause chronic headaches and back pain.
- Increase your risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
- Cause insomnia, irritability, anxiety, and depression.
- Diminish your sex drive and affect the reproductive system, including issues with the menstrual cycle, fertility, erectile dysfunction or impotence.
All of the paleo pancakes in the world ain’t gonna fix that!
So now you know the reason you’re not getting the results you want from your paleo lifestyle, let’s get into what you can do about it (and don’t worry, this isn’t any of the usual stress management techniques like ‘Sit down and meditate for hours’).
You can reclaim your primal state of ease, flow, and resourcefulness, here in this modern world, without disabling your facebook account and throwing away your iPhone to go live in a shack in the middle of nowhere. Here’s one of the antidotes to the modern world that our tribe loves…
3 steps to reclaiming your primal state…
1. Notice when you’re feeling stressed
Simply notice that stress in your body. Notice where you’re feeling stress and notice how it feels.
2. Notice your thoughts
Simply recognise what you’re thinking about. That isn’t judging or critiquing your thoughts, it’s simply noticing what you’re thinking about in this moment.
3. Notice that your stress is being created by your thinking
See that your stress is a DIRECT RESULT of what you’re thinking, not the circumstances. Notice that a different thought would cause an entirely different feeling.
When you see the truth of this for yourself, you’ll be recognising that situations and other people – ridiculous politicians, running out of coconut oil, your boss’s sh*tty emails – aren’t creating your stress at all, your own thoughts are!
That recognition by itself, is a huge step towards dropping into the awareness behind our thoughts. And then our thoughts cease to appear like a stress-triggering threat, because we see them for what they are, as ‘just thought’.
Threat over… we drop back into our primal state.
And just to be clear – this isn’t a technique, positive psychology or positive thinking. This is simply how the human animal works. It’s the way we’re designed to experience life.
How cool is that?!
Can it really be that simple?
It certainly is. We’ve seen this work for many thousands of people in all kinds of situations, including high-powered jobs, areas affected by natural disasters and in some of the most violent places in the U.S.
But there’s zero need to take my word for it! Try these steps the next time you feel stressed and see what happens for yourself…