Sloths are mammals characterized by moving only when necessary. Even when they move, they move slowly. They generally live their life hanging about in trees. They eat, sleep (an average 10 hrs/day) and birth their children simply “hanging around.” They also only go to the ground to urinate or defecate about once a week. (Wikipedia.org).
Recent popularity of the sloth can be credited to Dash from the movie Zootopia. His slow delivery of jokes makes him even funnier. You already know that I only watch animated movies because…you know…the small kids and all. Watch Dash trailer here, he is actually funny.
So what do we have to learn from sloths? How is it that learning to do more of seemingly “nothing” or just “hanging around” be healthy?
There has been press recently about how even “boredom” during the summer for kids actually stimulates creativity. In fact doing less and allowing for boredom creates space for an "internal stimulus" which is where creativity comes from.
If you have read my book or blog, you already know that simple lifestyle strategies actually improve your health. More sleep is restorative. To Soar On doesn’t even mean you have to “DO” anything except connect to something. That could be as simple as doing nothing in a hammock…just like a sloth might do.
I have recently embarked on learning Transcendental Meditation (TM). It may be the most sloth like thing a person can do. You simply sit and are peaceful. Yes, you do need to have some training, but it is effortless. So, I have been effortlessly doing simply nothing while sitting about. Here is the cool thing…..As I do nothing, my body is resting, repairing and releasing stress. All of those other things are healthy right (besides maybe looking like a sloth as I TM like above picture)?
The more I do this, be like the sloth, the more peace and happiness there is.
The more I do nothing, the more I gain...maybe even creativity.
Even in healthcare, there is a movement to practice “doing nothing” because less is actually more. Give the viral cold more time and rest, not drugs. Let that injury heal with some slow movement, not medication. Let the inflammatory cycle run its course, because stopping it with NSAIDs actually decreases the strength of the repair.
I recently was asked what my thoughts are on Essential Oils, the new rage in home remedies. In full disclosure, I have some of my own and have used them for my family and myself. There are some therapeutic effects of herbs and essential oils that traditional health practitioners are trained in. What they did for me is helped me transition to “Sloth-Like” behavior in treating illness or injury in my family. See I am a recovering “DO-er.” I solved problems. If my child had a symptom, I gave a medication to get rid of the symptom. When my child had a cough then I set-up a humidifier in their room. The essential oils were a means for me to continue to feel like I was "doing something" when a symptom arose outside of pharmaceuticals. In the end, I started to become addicted to them like I was Tylenol. I had to have some to travel with. I had to have some at the cabin. I didn’t want to get stuck not being able to “do” something. We don’t get sick often, but when we do, we now slow…way…down...sloth-like.
We make sleep a priority. We eat well and drink fluids. We support our bodies by doing nothing. The essential oil was something to “do” but it didn’t change the outcome. The body still needs to run its course; it’s smart like that. And if I am really alarmed with a fever or some other symptom, I will NOT depend on medications or oils to resolve it. I will then do something, which is to go to the doctor. Taking it slow is not ignoring that it is present. Taking it slow and doing nothing allows me to become more aware of the situation and even the cause of the symptom.
Safely do nothing…. except of course to consciously choose to listen to your body and honor it’s need for you to take a break. Don’t control a thing for a little while to see the benefits take hold. This will also allow you to identify when it is necessary to take action.
Basque in the sun on a rock and simply breathe. In and out…in and out.
Skip the run and sit in the hammock for 20 ‘ listening to the creek or the wind.
Learn Transcendental Meditation if that suits you.
Slow down. Slow….way…..down. Be Sloth-like.
Sleep more. Enjoy more. Breathe more. (Please go to urinate/defecate more often than the sloth and certainly having babies in trees sounds rather dangerous for a human not to mention making of said baby…but otherwise be sloth-like)
S-L-O-W down. And then go S-L-O-W-E-R. You will find you are more productive and healthy in living your life in the trees.
Being Sloth-like sounds pretty easy.
Remove. Replace. Restore.
Remove the constant busyness even if it is related to healthy habits.
Replace with Sloth-like behavior. Improve the repair process. Release stress because there will be more to come. Truly re-connect to your body, your mind, and nature that can only be done when you slow – way- down.
Restore health and happiness.
Eat Well. Move Well. Sleep Well. Soar On…Like the Sloth
Photo credit: flickr commons; NH53, license
Dr Carolyn Dolan DPT, Cert MDT, MSHN
Where physical therapy, nutrition and lifestyle meet, because how you live your life determines whether or not you soar. Inspiring action with information so you can reduce pain, optimize healing and improve function naturally during recovery from injury, surgery or painful condition. This is a website for the open-minded; obstinate need not apply.