Over the past 60 days I know of three pre-mature, tragic deaths of men that I’ve worked with over my career, they were professionals, employed and between the ages of 40 and 45 years of age. I’ve also recently lost someone with whom I was very close but had lost track of over the past 20 years. These tragedies have rocked many people that knew them directly and indirectly, with many asking the same question, what happened?
It’s natural to create our own version of what we think happened, but no one really ever knows another person’s journey. The following comes from my heart and I hope if offers value to you or to someone you know who needs it.
We take the act of breathing for granted, it’s something we do unconsciously, it sustains our life and provides our body with the oxygen we need to live.
Deep breathing provides many benefits, it connects us to our body and gets us present to the moment. When you notice that you’re triggered, it’s important to stay present to the art of breathing until you become aware of anxiety slipping away, replaced by an increased sense of calm and clarity. When triggered I’ve often been inclined to cut my deep breathing short, it’s what we tend to do when we want to jump into action and solve the problem. That urge is a good indicator to keep breathing and be patient with yourself, you’ll feel the difference in your body. Blood pressure and stress will reduce, you’ll feel calmer and develop a relaxed state of mind. This puts you in a position to better assess your situation and take the measured actions to either address the issue or simply let it go, with the realization that the problem was all made-up.
Most of us came into this world with a perfectly healthy body and mind. Many continue to honor their physicality and the importance of health in their life. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, the majority of us explore new experiences which may take us down a habitual path that hurts our physical and mental health.
All we need do is look around us, we are bombarded with information that create stress. Bad news sells. When stress happens, many seek distractions that compromise their physicality. Those distractions might include the food we eat, the substances we ingest or the lifestyle we maintain. From a positive perspective, there is also an abundance of information that supports good health.
Take time take note of how you honor your health, it sounds easy, yet so much of what we do is driven by our subconscious mind and the habits that we were raised with and/or adopted as adults. Alcohol, opiates and nicotine are highly addictive, and destroy lives. Alcohol is embedded and marketed into our social fabric and for many has become a subconscious activity when we want to celebrate, grieve, reward, etc.
What is your relationship with alcohol?
Is it a healthy relationship?
Getting to a place of conscious choice is the goal, you’ll be amazed at the possibilities that consciousness offers, it will change your life!
There have been recent writings about the health impact of loneliness (I’ve included some of the information below). As I reflected on the loss of so many middle-aged men over such a short-period of time, I racked my brain on the question of why?
There’s no simple answer, every person is an individual, yet at the same time we are all connected to humanity. Notwithstanding that connection we each hold our own version of reality driven by our thoughts, our inner-monologue. Our thoughts are unique to our perspective of our relationship to the world around us.
The “red-thread” I notice is the increase in social isolation in our society. What drives social isolation? As men, many of us think we can work it out, we have the answers, we tackle challenges and rise victoriously to the top, except when we don’t. We don’t know how to ask for help.
I remember doing a ropes course as part of a leadership program I attended several years ago. I was blindfolded with the other participants and the objective was for each of us to find our way out. I love a challenge but little did I know, there was no opening to the maze. The only way out was to ask for help from those who had already finished. I was the last guy on the course, notwithstanding the whispers of “ask for help” from the other participants who had finished. Asking for help is a lesson I continue to learn in my life.
Why don’t we reach out when we struggle?
Why don’t we reach out to others when we sense they’re struggling?
What might have happened if we had?
What are the possibilities when we do?
The following information was recently published:
Loneliness and physical health
- Loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality by 26% (Holt-Lunstad, 2015)
- The effect of loneliness and isolation on mortality is comparable to the impact of well-known risk factors such as obesity, and has a similar influence as cigarette smoking (Holt-Lunstad, 2010)
- Loneliness is associated with an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke (Valtorta et al, 2016)
- Loneliness increases the risk of high blood pressure (Hawkley et al, 2010)
- Lonely individuals are also at higher risk of the onset of disability (Lund et al, 2010)
Loneliness and mental health
- Loneliness puts individuals at greater risk of cognitive decline (James et al, 2011)
- One study concludes lonely people have a 64% increased chance of developing clinical dementia (Holwerda et al, 2012)
- Lonely individuals are more prone to depression (Cacioppo et al, 2006) (Green et al, 1992)
- Loneliness and low social interaction are predictive of suicide in older age (O’Connell et al, 2004)
We’re all human’s doing our best to live a life that is consumed in a dynamic and relentless information world. We try to shut out the external noise and live our life yet we continue to be bombarded with negative media and our internal thoughts with warning messages that highlight fears. We turn inward fighting thoughts about negative outcomes that haven’t happened and likely never will. We don’t take time to breathe, look after ourselves or connect with others, the result of which can be cataclysmic to ourselves and the many that love us.
In a world that seems to drive us harder and faster it’s more important than ever to do the simple things that bring us home, reach out to others who are fighting their battles, follow your instincts and connect.