Written by Beau DeCourcy
Chronic signals are stressors. Stress should, ideally, make us stronger; this is known as hormesis. However, when a stressor is chronic, the signal to strengthen becomes white noise, and when a signal becomes too loud for too long, our cells must adapt by becoming less sensitive. As a result, any information meant to strengthen the cell is lost, resistance to the signal is developed, and without clear signals, the cell functions in chaos and begins to break down. Punching the clock day after day can cause us, like our individual cells, to become less sensitive to life; essentially we ‘check out’.
Resistance in terms of nutrition and exercise is well established in literature, but what about emotional and psychological forms of resistance? In this psychological context, routine becomes the metaphorical carbohydrate of lifestyle. Therefore, to reduce a psychological resistance, we must also practice intermittency, risk, and diversity in our daily activities.
It seems most people strive to achieve routine in their lives. This is probably because routines make us feel safe and comfortable much the same as an abundance of energy dense foods. We know that just because we have a strong taste for sugar, doesn’t mean eating sugar all the time is healthy. We must apply this understanding of the ancestral context to our daily lives as well. Routines, however, become so well established that our lives lose their signal to noise ratio. The signal to happiness is weakened in the absence of risk and reward, we become isolated from any need to fight for survival, and as a result our lives stagnate. Simply put: we become bored, weak and sometimes ill and depressed.
For many of us, the signal to noise ratio disappears among the rehearsed motions of our day; none of it very stressful, but also none of the day is very invigorating. In this steady-state march through our daily lives, our minds go on autopilot. Devoid of any real, new experience, our brain and emotions harden. Brain plasticity, a necessary component for learning, is decreased and our senses are dulled.
Some of us look to chemical remedies to disrupt the chronic, boring routine. Alcohol, among other “recreational” drugs, artificially accentuates our feelings in an attempt to break the cycle of stagnation. Others may resort to different, immediate and more malignant forms of stimulation to feel more alive. But escapism is never the best option. Addressing the chronic lifestyle is as necessary as understanding the need for a fractal existence. Seek increases in happiness and energy through applying the ancestral context to our daily lives. Recognize that no animal functions optimally in an unnatural environment, and while we may have lost our wild backdrop, our genes have not forgotten where we came from. Our mental, social and physical health depend on contrast. If each day resembles the last and each year the former, there is no signal to vitality.
It is important to make your daily routine as un-routine like as possible without creating utter chaos. Adding varying levels of risk, whether in your profession or in the form of physical challenges, will enliven you. We all have responsibilities , of course, but the daily grind can be improved upon by adding fractal components.
I would not advocate making immediate and dramatic changes in your lifestyle. Rather, at first, learn to interact with your world in an alternative way. Practice intermittency in your work place: walk during your lunch break, jog the stairs in between tasks, skip breakfast on occasion. Create a goal that involves some risk to keep yourself sharp and out of your comfort zone. Learn to work intensely for a short period of time, and then do nothing at all. Interestingly enough, productivity will likely increase with these fractal/ancestral applications.
After work, learn to be outside as much as possible. Engage nature and access the spatial domains of your brain. Climb something, fight something, and love something. “E-fast” to escape electronic reality. Sometimes, learn to do nothing at all. Use these methods to break up routine for a healthy signal to noise ratio and to reduce chronic signals in your life. While some of you may enjoy your routine, remember that not everything enjoyable is best for you, especially when it’s chronic. Understand, a safe life, tediously removed from all risk, has serious implications on creating a better existence.
Think of areas of your life that are far too routine. Work? Supplements? Exercise? Sleep? Diet?