The other morning I was running on the trail near my house. As I was crossing a bridge, there was a family of four spread out down by the bridge, and walking toward me. As I ran by the first two, they saw me, and we smiled and nodded at each other.
As I came toward the third family member I saw that he was in his late teens, had headphones in, and was looking down at his phone. Because he was occupied, he didn’t notice me until I was a few strides away. And even though I was on the other side of the bridge, he was startled and jumped once he saw me. I could tell he was shaken for awhile after I passed. I ran past the last family member fine and continued on my way.
As I continued my run and replayed this in my head, part of me thought, “That’s what you get for playing on your phone when you could have been observing the beautiful nature around you.” And then it really sunk in, as to how important being present in your environment is. While three of the family members were able to smile, nod, continue to feel at ease…this teenager’s body was intensely startled and thrown into a moment of shock.
It helped me realize how important our sensory system is. The part of our body that takes in all of our surroundings so our brain knows whether we should feel safe or scared. If you take away two of your primary senses – no vision because you’re looking down at your phone…and no hearing because you’re listening to your headphones – suddenly your brain loses out on vital information.
Since we work with a lot of kids with anxiety, behavior issues, or sensory processing concerns; this experience really resonated with me in a lot of ways.
Imagine if during this walk, the teenage boy became startled whenever someone passed, while the rest of his family stayed calm and relaxed. Imagine if the rest of his family used their senses to absorb the trees, the birds, the water, the breeze…while his brain only received intense, close up stimulation. Who is going to feel calmer at the end? Who is going to feel more content, more settled, and more at ease?
This teenage boy could likely return home feeling tense, nervous, and worried, while his family returned feeling relaxed and refreshed…even though he was in the same environment as his family!
It helped me realize that to feel calm and in control, it is crucial to be aware of your surroundings. How does this happen? It happens when your nervous system can connect your brain to what’s going on around you. It is our nervous system that brings information in through our senses up to our brain. Once our brain can interpret what’s going on (whether it thinks that there is a friendly runner that will politely pass by…or someone running fast and suddenly they come really close) it can tell our body how to respond (smile, nod, and continue calmly walking…or startle and jump).
How can you connect your nervous system to what’s going on around you?
A few things:
- Be present. Open up all of your senses to the environment. When you go for a walk, look around you (not just at your feet), listen to the sounds, feel the ground under your feet. Yes, this means taking out the headphones and putting your phone in your pocket (or even leaving it at home).
- Get adjusted. Neurological chiropractic’s role is to help your brain and body communicate at 100%. Not only so your body parts can work at 100%, but also so you can experience the world around you at 100%. Since you live your life through your nervous system, it is an important system to take care of!
- Take some time to observe, rather than do. It is easy with our world to feel like you’re on the hamster wheel where you go, go, go. Going all the time makes our nervous system tired. It becomes easy to overlook the things that are right in front of you. The subtle messages going on around you. Take some time to sit and watch, without a distraction (like a phone) and let your nervous system calm down.
When you feel connected to the world around you, your body can feel calmer and in control. When kids feel calmer and in control, they behave better and create a better dynamic with the whole family!
And if you want help breaking the electronic addiction for your family, for a limited time you can visit: http://www.mad2glad.com/electronicaddiction
Whole Family Chiropractic is located in Highland Park of St Paul, MN 55116. WFC is conveniently accessible from Minneapolis (55417, 55406), Mendota Heights (55120, 55118), Eagan (55122), and Inver Grove Heights (55076, 55077). Dr. Tye Moe and Dr. Chelsey Henney are chiropractors that focus on pediatric chiropractic with their neurological approach – Torque Release Technique. Their holistic health care is great for infants, children, adolescents, and adults. They have exceptional skills and experience in helping children with neurological concerns such as ADHD, Autism (ASD), and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). In addition they love working with kids with common childhood issues such as ear infections, colic, constipation, reflux, frequent colds or sinus infections, and poor sleep.