What’s really taking a toll on your health.

It isn’t trans fat.

It isn’t sugar.

It isn’t red dye 40.

Those things can definitely play a role in making us feel well or unwell, and I will always advocate for a balanced diet. But when I use the term ‘health,’ I’m thinking about life holistically. The sum of all the different aspects of who we are, how we live, who we interact with, and the way we treat ourselves and the environment.

Breakfast: vegan zucchini waffles + blueberries with chocolate sauce (made from melting 99% cacao chocolate in the microwave)IMG_1672.JPGDistraction.

I didn’t know much about the word origin, and when I looked it up, it made sense. Distract comes from the latin dis, meaning apart and trahere meaning to draw. Over time, it became distract, meaning to pull in different directions.

Throughout each day, we experience that pulling. Our thoughts and senses are engaged almost 24/7. Distraction has become the norm for most modern day cultures. When I look at my own day to day living, I know I am distracted (often willingly) most hours of the day.

Lunch: lentil soup + crackers and hummus.IMG_1676.JPGWhen I eat, I want to watch Netflix, read, catch up on blogs, write.

When I workout, bake, clean, I want to listen to music or podcast.

When I’m in the car, I usually have the radio on.

I check email, facebook, instagram embarrassingly often.

Snack: plain cashew milk kefir + zucchini bread + figsIMG_1678.JPGDistraction when I eat prevents me from savoring food, being thankful for all the hands that were involved in bringing it to my table, and listening to my satiation cues.

Distraction when I engage in even menial tasks prevents me from staying present in the moment and doing them efficiently.

Distraction prevents me from listening intently and engaging in conversation and working through emotions. It dulls and blocks, instead of opening and softening. IMG_1679.JPGDistractions don’t have to be tangible either, like a phone or TV. My thoughts (read: worries), can be a distraction, especially during devotions. One second I’m mediating on scripture and the next my mind is frantically calculating how to pay for my second semester of college…when I haven’t even started the first one.

It can disrupt sleep too, which is a huuuuge part of health.

It prevents us from listening to how we feel. We’re pulled in so many directions. We know it’s impossible to physically give our all to everything without snapping, so the exchange is to give 0.1% to 1000 different little things. Part of the desire to be engaged all the time comes from a need to be busy, preoccupied, doing something every minute, and multitasking seems like the perfect way to check off all the boxes. 20170808_171900-1We’re left feeling disconnected and exhausted because distraction is truly exhausting.

The next question to ask is what are we trying to distract ourselves from?

Is it silence? Loneliness? Feelings that feel impossible to face? Insecurity? Boredom?

More Snacks: zucchini bread, mango sorbet + a frozen banana20170808_1830392017-08-08 20.21.07For me, it’s a pinch of all of these plus some, depending on the day. Distraction is something I need to let go of. Of course, I haven’t given up reading, podcasts, or Netflix, but I’m learning to avoid these things during mealtimes, devotions, conversations and take time to be quiet throughout the day.

It’s more difficult than I imagined, but it’s equally more important than I imagined. I want to learn how to accept, crave stillness.

Linking up with Arman and Laura for WIAW


So tell me…

Do you struggle with distraction?

How do you combat feeling pulled in every direction?

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24 thoughts on “What’s really taking a toll on your health.

  1. I’ve been focusing on being mindful lately. And for me that means putting down my phone, putting away my laptop, and just being in silence! You are right that we thrive off distraction. That isn’t healthy at all! We have to learn to just sit and be 🙂 also- those waffles look amazing!

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  2. I thinks everyone in this age of the phone, is way to distracted. We all need to put devices, worries, and everything else aside as much as possible and fully engage in the present and whats happening in the moment!

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  3. This was so poignantly written. I didn’t set goals or words or intentions for this year, but it’s becoming apparent to me that my theme for this year–and I hope for my whole life–is ‘be still.’ And I’m slowly learning how to be still. You’re so right, it’s not easy. (I write this as I’m eating breakfast, so….) Too often I find myself doing the mindless-scroll through my phone before bed, or get through a page (or two or five) of a book before I realize I’ve been thinking about something else and have no idea what I just read. I love how you dove into the etymology of the word–pulling in different directions is a good visual. Thanks for this, I’m off to finish breakfast distraction free.

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  4. And ain’t that the truth.
    Definitely a topic I could write about in great length. I think it is sad how our society has grown into this mob that, literally, can’t fathom even a moment without some form of additional activity or distraction. Moment of stillness? 95% of people now look down to their phone. There’s all sorts of psychological fears that could be attributing to this – and each personal. I know I’m definitely scared of loneliness and boredom, because that’s when the sad thoughts come in. Working this “no distraction” muscle is definitely hard work, and I just hope more and more people take a page from your book and try consciously giving it more of an effort. You learn a lot and become much more open to everything around you. Including yourself.

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  5. Yes to all of this, I am always multi tasking and distracted. I actually found myself the other day about to sit down to finish my book and it was so quiet I just played there and eventually fell asleep because it was so quiet, and I never nap!

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  6. This is so true for me – I find myself constantly distracted by so many random silly things throughout the day (and sometimes not so silly, but mostly silly haha).
    Those waffles look incredible!!

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  7. I lovvvvvvve this post! Girl – every breath I take is filled with distractions! I wish I could turn off my brain sometimes so that I can focus whole heartedly on one thing, but that brain of mine is always going, going, going which leads to a zillions different distractions for me. The worse is during devotions! It’s why I need to stop doing devotions on my phone – just Bible and journal! That way its one less distraction for me to be tempted with.

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  8. I struggle with so much distraction, and I think that’s what causes me stress. I often think that that distraction comes during focused time with the Lord, because it might be a spiritual attack. However I’m so thankful that the Lord brings our mind back over and over again.

    I’m so thankful for less social media lately, and so the time I do spend on Instagram is more focused and then I get off and I don’t feel like I have to get back on again. I used to be a lot more distracted by it; it’s still a struggle. ❤

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  9. So so so true. I feel like my brain is always pulled in a million directions–in part because I have anxiety, which manifests itself as what I call “spin brain”–and the fact that we live in a place and time where we have so so much media at our fingertips doesn’t help. This actually something I’ve been particularly conscious of in the last couple of weeks too: wanting to be more focused and do one thing at a time. It’s amazing how much longer of an attention span I had when I was a kid!

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    1. “Spin brain” sounds like it might be somewhat like my “hamster wheel.” They both circulate endlessly 🙂 Oh my goodness I think about all the time. I don’t know how I kept myself entertained sans phone or TV or computer.

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  10. Ohmygoodness gracious. This was almost too on point. In fact, I am replying to this as I eat breakfast. Why can’t I just simply be?!! I can never shut my mind off; it’s all over the place. That’s awesome that you are getting better at setting time aside with zero (or close to it 😉 ) distractions. Got any tips on how to do it? 😦

    On a lighter note, I love me some figs–dry or fresh–too. And that zucchini bread + mango combo has caught my eye.

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  11. Honestly, you are so sweet, so strong, so mindful, and so articulate. This is a wonderful post – and ridiculously true.
    I completely agree about how distraction creeps into every aspect of our lives – I find myself “bored” or “unstimulated” when I’m focusing only on one thing, and it’s almost as if multitasking has simply become a way of life. I’m working hard as well on being content with stillness. Thank you for being so observant and putting it all into words!
    On another note, those waffles are incredible. Did you make them from scratch? All the photos here are just on point – that zucchini bread is putting hearts in my eyes, too!

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    1. You’re too kind, Cindy. It’s such a challenge for me to be content with stillness. But I suppose practice makes progress, which is what I’m hoping for.

      The waffles are actually from a GF whole grain mix. I added grated zucchini and cinnamon though, so they felt kind of homemade 😉

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  12. I am constantly distracted. It’s really terrible. My ability to multi-task has always been something I jokingly bragged about, but it’s gotten to a point where I half ass things and can’t remember sh*t. Here’s to being more mindful in the coming week!

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