As I was doing further research into my A Whole-Body Reset™ treatment and its benefit to your nervous system, a friend told me of a YouTube clip by a gentleman who’d been part of the design of the smart phone. The man spoke of their having calibrated the ding that tells you a text has arrived, to elicit a dopamine hit just under the strength of a cocaine dopamine hit. This, in order to build addiction to the phone into the phone. This is not shrill conspiracy theory. It’s what they really did! The man said they knew exactly what they were doing and did it anyway. Now — Heaven help us, he seemed to be saying — how do we help rein in the monster we’ve unleashed? Which played into the very reason for my Whole-Body Reset treatment: We have to unplug regularly from our phones and smart devices, from our technology across the board. We need to make unplugging from our devices as regular and daily as brushing our teeth. It’s just something we should do from this point forward. Our health demands it.
As I was watching this YouTube piece, I noticed to the side another clip I wanted to see next. It was of an Australian naturopathic doctor who opened with, “It’s your autonomic nervous systems. That’s everything. We live in fight-or-flight, and that is our undoing. Turn your phones off!” Couldn’t have followed the first video more appropriately.
As soon as our feet hit the floor in the morning, we check our phones. We’re tethered to our phones and technology in every waking moment, we know that. We live on alert for the next text, the next call, the next email, all of which is urgent even though it really isn’t. We live on alert; we live for the ding. We live in fight-or-flight. We are doing great — and cumulative — harm to our nervous systems and, with that, our total health.
We act resigned to this, when — silly us! — we hold all the cards! Just turn it off! (When I go into session, I put my phone on Airplane Mode. I don’t even want to hear the buzz from the ringer’s being off.)
Here’s why living as digitally plugged in as we do, harms us and cumulatively. Anatomy and Physiology 101. Our bodies are naturally efficient and don’t tolerate wasting energy. The way our nervous systems are wired, when we shift abruptly into fight-or-flight — and it’s always abrupt, isn’t it? — certain organ systems shut down — have to shut down — because our bodies need that energy for reacting to the immediate, urgent situation. In our caveman days, it was the tiger in our path; today it’s the ding. Even if it’s not really a threat or urgent — and it seldom really is — to our bodies a perceived danger is the same as the real thing.
When the crisis is over — after we’ve answered the text — our bodies are designed to calm down and resume running fully again. But these days, in another 10 minutes, another text will come, needing our urgent attention, or someone else’s drama to get sucked into. So over and over we’re jerked into reaction to someone or something. We flip into fight-or-flight, and our bodies shut down to the essentials so we can deal with the crisis. The crisis passes, we calm down and our innards start to hum again, and — ding! It never ends. After while, our bodies say, “I can’t do this anymore.” The systems always ramping up to deal with the endless crises, finally throw in the towel; and the systems always being shut down to a minimum just as they’re coming online again — in the unwavering rule of use it or lose it — decide they may as well stay at a minimum. Our bodies are efficient. The universe is kind but unsentimental.
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. The doctor explained that the first system to shut down when we go into fight-or-flight, is our digestive system. That’s major. Over and over, just as it’s gearing back up, we shut it down again. Not an efficient use of our own precious energy. Over time, your digestive system decides that because it’s going to get shut down around every corner, it may as well not waste energy coming back into full operation. Running less than optimally becomes its norm, and your digestion from that moment on, is compromised. The doctor’s point was that if you live in fight-or-flight — and we do — you can eat all the finest, organic broccoli in the world, but you’ll never again receive all that it holds for you. Because you’re not digesting completely anymore. And because digestion is THE source for fueling everything you think, say, and do, your total effectiveness takes a continual, cumulative hit. Routine tasks take more out of us. Mental fog becomes thicker.
And if that weren’t bad enough, digestion is also one of the three pillars of our immune function. As our digestive system is weakened, the germs that wreak havoc, that our bodies once routinely handled quietly on their own, now slip through.
We’re toast. W e h a v e b e c o m e t h e d i n g ! We need to unplug, but most of us won’t. We’re afraid we might miss something. Not a problem. I’ll do it for you! It is exactly for this that I created my nervous system treatment called A Whole-Body Reset™. It’s a hands-on, whole-body treatment, takes place on a massage table; all you’ll take off are your shoes.
I will unplug you from your day, from your world. In but a few minutes, I will bring you to stillness, to a calm you’ve probably never known before. You will relax completely out of fight-or-flight mode. You will come to stillness. In that stillness and calm, your nervous system and your whole body will reset. To their original calm. You will take that with you; it will last for hours, maybe days, maybe longer. You’ll enjoy the start of a new norm where calm non-reaction is your new response to whatever happens.
Now what if you could create this unplugging for yourself? Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to help! My treatment will let you feel what relaxation really feels like and whet your whistle to make it your new normal. Come again, come regularly. The benefit is cumulative. You’ll need to come less often to stay at your best. But what, then, if you could create that yourself? For yourself? That freedom from the ding, where what not long ago so predictably, routinely stressed you out, simply no longer does.
You — we — really do hold all the cards!
In the break room at work, today or tomorrow, talk with your colleagues about how you really could unplug from your technology, from your day — all of it — for even small, life-changing moments in your day. Tonight, enjoy an unhurried, phone-free conversation over dinner — talk with family about new and healthier boundaries around your technology and the freedom that can give you.
Make plans to go outside and play. Leave your phone in the house.
Let me share some things I do and have done to unplug, that they may start your own creative wheels turning.
- When I worked in aerospace,
∙I backed away from my desk several times during the day, took a short walk if time allowed, or at least stood up and did some slow, sustained stretches and long, slow, deep breathing. (The stretches I teach my clients to do.) I intentionally slowed myself down and opened myself up.
∙I took the long walk to the cafeteria for lunch.
At least once a week, I met a friend in a large, seemingly unused closet where someone had stored stuffed chairs in a way that made the closet a tiny sitting room. We enjoyed our brown-bagged lunches and good conversation, undisturbed.
- Today, I build time into my massage schedule for having a few minutes of down-time before each next session. To breathe, sit, and move slowly. Or have extra, unhurried minutes for the client on my table, if need be.
- Changing the linens on the massage table is a ritual that is mantra-like.
- If I go to Publix on my way home from work in the afternoon, I park at the far end of the parking lot so have to walk. But then I walk as though I owned all of outdoors and had all the time in the world. This lets me break with the scheduled nature of the workday and, like old times, walking relaxed and hands-free.
- If condo neighbors are outside when I get home, I make time to chat and catch up a bit before I go in the house. Human connection that’s nontransactional and without agenda.
- If I need to make a Publix run in the evening for an item or two, I’ll walk. It’s only a mile. And I can cut through the FSW campus, itself a nice walk.
- I’ll invariably take the morning’s first cup of coffee out onto the balcony, to gaze up into the outdoors and breathe into the expanse of the start of the day. My condo community is in a lovely, tropical setting, and that makes the coffee better!
- If I have to go to Cape Coral, I plan to allow enough time to enjoy the view of the water from the causeway, for the water and the palm trees speak to my soul.
- If I’m meeting someone for coffee in the morning, I get there early enough to simply sit. In stillness or to read. Mainly to sit and zen out with the coffee cup!
- A friend of mine uses his long, daily commute home every afternoon, for his unplugged, personal recharge time. He plays relaxing music in his car and is happy to drive with the flow of traffic. Arrives home, already relaxed.
- For friends with families, mealtime is family time. For adults and kids alike, phones are back in their rooms and on silent.
- One friend realizes she needs to reintroduce her teenage son to what real, engaged conversation is … that texting is not.
- Friends with children also have clear bedtimes for their children. After that is THEIR time..
- I love the “art of the linger.” Will occasionally meet friends for brunch on weekends, that lasts for hours. Few things beat a good chat! Life doesn’t afford me that regularly, so it’s a treat in itself when I can.
Live in fight-or-flight no more! It’s primary health care!
From my experience, my Whole-Body Reset™ takes you to a depth of calm that you can rarely, initially get to on your own. The irony is that the new norm my treatment imparts and elicits in you is really your own, original natural state. It’s just that few of us have been there, for a long time if ever. We were born into the hamster-wheel culture, and it has been the norm we know and share with everyone else. We’re all frogs in the hot water together!
But in time — and it needn’t take long — your body will recognize the “new” calm as a welcomed old friend. You’ll need to see me less often, and you’ll get more and more creative in finding — then making — moments to unplug from it all. It’ll become its own adventure!
Let’s build a happier, more pleasant Southwest Florida. Happier, healthier families; happier, more productive workplaces; happier circles of friends — see the ripple here? — even happier, safer, longer stretches of I-75 — one nervous system at a time. It’s doable!
Larry Witzleben, LMT MA14390
6710 Winkler Rd #2, Fort Myers, FL 33919