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We Feel Empty Because Our Bodies Aren’t Evolved to Cope With the Current Lifestyle

We Feel Empty Because Our Bodies Aren’t Evolved to Cope With the Current Lifestyle

Do you ever get that feeling that things just aren’t right? You don’t feel connected with the world around you?

You know how you should act, how you should feel, but you’re not quite connecting with your emotions… a numbness you can’t shake off.

Summed up in a word, this is ‘Emptiness’.

It’s a sign that perhaps your mental health is not quite optimal. Maybe you’re stressed and anxious, or experiencing some mild depression without even knowing it.

Trust me when I say ‘You’re not alone’.

Also trust me when I say ‘you can break free form this suppressing feeling’.

The answer is probably not what you think, or not what you have been led to believe. Everyone always searches their thought patterns for the answer to curing emptiness. But this rarely works.

The root of the problem is the stuff we get in touch with every day.

Look, I’m going to level with you. There are a few things in this modern world and a modern lifestyle that are quite unnatural, I call them ‘Negative Triggers’, here are a few…

  • Stress from work
  • Financial pressure
  • Social media
  • Processed Negative Trigger Foods
  • Negative Media
  • Mobile phones

So why do they create the feeling of emptiness?…

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Think about this fact…

The past 100 years, even the past 20 years our race has completely evolved, our lifestyles have changed dramatically due to the list above. But evolution takes millions of years. Biologically we are the same as we were 500 years ago, but we live very different lives. Here lies the problem…We haven’t caught up. I’m going to call this problem ‘The Evolution Acceleration Effect’ (more on this coming up). This is a big reason why the feelings of emptiness, depression and anxiety are so common these days.

I’m going to teach you how you can embrace these incredible leaps and bounds in humanity, while still feeling connected with our emotions, with some small Lifestyle Triggers in the form of a simple 3 step morning routine.

This is the best way to get started as the morning routine is short, simple and it becomes habit very easily. Then you can just get on with your day as normal.

Before I can teach you the routine you first need to understand the biological and psychological problem the Evolution Acceleration Effect creates…

Some Science…

It actually has something to do with our body too.

The main problem isn’t a psychological one but a biological one which is having a knock-on effect with your mental health and distorting your perspective, let me explain…

This problem is a physical disruption to your ‘Hormone Harmony’. This is a term I use to explain the balance between stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) and feel-good neurotransmitters (chemical messages in the brain responsible for positive emotion, hopefulness and joy).

If you imagine a set of old weighing scales, you know the ones with 2 plates either side that compare 2 weights. One side is for stress hormones and the other for feel-good neurotransmitters. When you’re feeling fulfilled, energised, happy and peaceful, it’s because this set of scales is perfectly balanced. This means they complement each other and it creates serenity throughout your body and mind.

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Now the Negative Triggers created by the Evolution Acceleration Effect I spoke about, accumulate and fill the body with unnatural levels of stress hormones. This starts to weigh down the stress hormone scale. This has a negative effect on your feel-good neurotransmitter scale. When this happens these neurotransmitters stop working properly and the serenity is broken, this is a Negative Hormone Harmony Scale. This is when negative feelings such as emptiness begin to surface.

Sure, emptiness can be triggered by negative thoughts of situations. But, and this is a big ‘but’, it only becomes an uncontrollable problem that you can’t shake off when you have a Negative Hormone Harmony Scale. Because you can’t just snap out of it, this is when you’re at risk of stress, anxiety and depression.

The answer I’m going to teach you is in the form of a simple 3 step morning routine, filled with Lifestyle Triggers[1] that solve this problem. What’s great is it’s quick and easy to do, so it fits in with so many lifestyles.

Here’s the morning routine to shake off the feeling of emptiness.

Ok now the juicy stuff… The morning routine that helps to reset this scale…

This is what I want you to do…

So you wake up…

You might be having a good day or a bad day, either way do this straight away…

10 Minutes Of Flexible Exercise

This is a short burst of exercise that helps the body empty stress hormones and gives your feel-good neurotransmitters a recharge. Remember, exercise is a stress on the body and could increase stress hormones like cortisol and adrenalin. The difference with flexible exercise compared traditional exercise is it’s so short. This gives the body a chance to adapt to the stress therefore reducing stress hormones. I call this creating a ‘Positive Exercise Stress Axis’. This rebalances your hormone harmony scale, therefore reducing the feelings of emptiness.

Make sense? Good lets keep going.

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Furthermore, exercise selection is important, you want exercises that engage as much of the body as possible in a short time. To learn more about how you can use flexible exercise, check out this blog ‘Flexible Exercise‘.So now you have had a quick stress reliever and endorphin burst, you’re ready for the next step…

Write 2 Positive Mindset Prompts

This is a positive prediction about your day or your future. It can be many things; something that might be happening, a positive emotion, a person you are looking forward to seeing, a goal you want to achieve etc.

No matter how big or small, it’s important to acknowledge it. Write it down. If you’re feeling particularly empty at any point, have a look at it. Reconnect with it to help give you a positive perspective again. This helps to create a positive outlook on your future.

So I said 2 prompts…

One for the day (short term)

One for the future (long term)

This is a form of ‘Positive Self Talk’, if you need some guidance check out ‘Self-Talk Determines Your Success: 15 Tips‘.

Right now your mind is positively set, time for the correct nutrition.

Eat a Complete Meal

This is basically breakfast, I know what you’re thinking.

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‘Yeah breakfast can make my stomach feel less empty… But not emotionally less empty’

I hear you, let me explain…

Basically, a ‘Complete Meal’ is the perfect breakfast to help your body rebalance your Hormone Harmony Scale and stop feelings of emotional emptiness.

So, what’s a Complete Meal? I’m sure you’re keen to know.

Well, there are 2 key factors to a complete meal that help it fuel your brain ensuring optimal mental health.

Factor 1- A good balance of all 3 macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates and proteins). When the body is getting the correct ratio of all 3 of these it ensures your brain is getting a steady supply of energy. This helps to balance out your Hormone Harmony Scale.

Factor 2- Include foods that are high in micronutrients that help to rebalance your Hormone Harmony Scale. Foods high in magnesium, zinc and tryptophan will do this.

Make the Routine A Daily Habit

Being consistent is your biggest friend with these Lifestyle Triggers. Try to do them everyday. In general it takes 6 weeks to create a habit like this.

But you have to start somewhere, so what’s important is what you do right now, at this very moment while you have some motivational energy. So, I want you to stand up, take a deep breath, exhale, then get your diary, quickly plan out your routine for tomorrow and jot it down. Let’s do this!

Once this routine becomes habit and your Hormone Harmony Scale is optimal again, your perspective will become clearer and feelings of emptiness will begin to disappear.

Reference

More by this author

Ben Jones

Fitness Coordinator

We Feel Empty Because Our Bodies Aren’t Evolved to Cope With the Current Lifestyle How Not to Let Negative Thoughts Trump the Positive Vibes The 20-Minute Morning Routine That Relieves Anxiety The 10-Minute Daily “Lifestyle Trigger” That Relieves Anxiety and Depression 2 Major Flaws in Your Diet That Cause Stress and Anxiety

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Last Updated on October 30, 2019

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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