Many of my patients express feeling like they are on a hamster wheel – that they live this monotonous existence where their days are constantly filled with checking off a never ending “to do” list, from the time they wake up until their exhausted head hits the pillow. So, what can you do when you feel your life is simply going through the motions instead of really living? How do we make a change? 

Conventionally Unconventional with Kinder Fayssoux, MD

Like any change, it comes through action. I recommend your first small action be setting aside at least 30 minutes a day for lunch. But, Dr. Fayssoux, how can I feel less busy if I take time to have lunch? Well, keep reading.

How we find ourselves on a hamster wheel can be attributed to basic human instinct; it is human instinct to avoid change because often it is uncomfortable. But, when the change happens gradually, we don’t see it until it becomes our new normal. 

As we progress into adulthood, we end up in routines that become our norm. They are comfortable and the thought of doing something different (scheduling a workout, meeting a friend for dinner, starting a book club, taking a class just for fun) seems overwhelming. For many in our 40s, what’s comfortable is working all day, completing tasks, taking care of other people and keeping the house running. Although all are necessary components of being an adult, we have left no time for self-care and nurturing of our own deepest self. Changing this routine to make time for ourselves and the things that help us and our relationships grow seems impossible. However, that is exactly what you must do. All change comes from consistent action, but here is the big secret – that change can be small; as small as committing to a non-working lunch.

If my patients are a representation of our culture, 85 percent of us don’t take lunch. Whether you are an employer, employee or a full time stay at home parent, it seems as if work is never done. We end up using time for lunch to run an errand or schedule an appointment. Think back to when you were in school or at your first job. Chances are you stopped your day for lunch. Every day when I was in medical school and even most days in residency, I would stop at lunchtime and go sit outside in the sun, eat and socialize with my friends (not my phone). That chance to stop being in work mode, get social stimulation and enjoy being outside was – and still is – extremely energizing. 

When we stop to take care of ourselves, it can help us become more efficient in tackling that “to do” list because we are motivated by doing something that brings us joy. It sounds counterintuitive, but try it for a week. Stop for 30 minutes in the middle of your day and just be in the moment with your meal, a friend and the sunshine we are so lucky to have year-round. Don’t be surprised if suddenly it doesn’t seem overwhelming to add other joy inducing activities to your routine.

Dr. Fayssoux is an integrative primary care practitioner with Ohm & Oot Wellness Medicine and can be reached at (760) 469.9900. For more information, visit www.KinderFayssouxMD.com.

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