Date: Saturday, 15th June 2019
Number of attendees: 12
B’Saħħitna is a project organised by ACT and funded by Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector through SIS (Small Initiatives Support Scheme).
Challenges to My Well-Being
This report will serve as a record of what was discussed in the debate in order to compile an action plan by creating more consciousness about well-being, highlighting barriers and drawing solutions related to our health. One of the most salient points is the use of free time, and the excessive use of social media as a form of procrastination, leading to the illusion of the absence of free time and the lack of discipline when it comes to focusing on developing goals and being active.
Humans are creatures of habit and are ready to adapt to change. Not only do we affect the environment, but the environment affects us. Modern life has made us feel mechanical and unconscious of where our present actions will lead us. Consequently, these have impeded our well-being, specifically the lack of awareness that there is when it comes to the psychosomatic perspective of having the mind and body both affecting each other.
The working life has made us become inhumane, causing us to be unaware of minute decisions which have a cause and effect on us, like a domino effect. Letting go of our decision making, we allow current advertisements of products to think for us. So the questions remain: How can this awareness be brought up for society to be conscious of their decisions? Some of the main barriers discussed which affect our well-being are;
- The misuse of time.
- The lack of discipline.
- The maintaining of habits.
- Sleeping patterns.
- Social media in the form of F.O.M.O and procrastination.
The Maltese Islands rank in the top 10 of people who suffer from heart disease, lung disease and diabetes. On a national scale, 70% percent of our fluctuating population are obese. Have families become a lack of compliance? Have people forgotten what it means to be responsible; the ability to respond effectively to external situations? Have we become easily influenced to let people and advertisements do the thinking for us, instead of being active decision makers? These are all questions that need to be addressed keenly and with the right attitude.
It can be said that people suffer from two types of syndromes;
- Jesus Christ Syndrome – The belief that there is something external which will change my life to the better, only if it is pursued and achieved.
- Amazon Syndrome – Instant gratification through the purchase of items either online or in stores.
These are products of today’s society. The common element between them is that if a person does either one of them, their body will release dopamine, a hormone which makes them feel good and happy. In the former, dopamine is prolonged until the achievement of the external item that we initially decide to base our finite happiness, the latter releases dopamine instantaneously, without the need to wait.
Social Media and Modern Life
In modern society, people have become more connected with each other through means of social media, but at the cost of becoming more disconnected with ourselves in the process. Where before, people used small periods of free time to commute to reflect on their day or read, they now listen to music on their phones while scrolling through social media, an endless to-do list at the back of their mind. Now, time is handled by not being handling it. Time is not used by staring at blank space or on social media, and reflective time is substituted with technology.
The constant sharing of Instagram stories and updating tweets make people compelled to share what they are doing with others whom they may not know at all, as if they are seeking validation for the minutest thing that they are doing. This concept, known as FOMO (fear of missing out) is what runs social media, and what makes people think they need to be better than others, or to at least share what they do so that they don’t feel like they are alone. As a result, one might say that social media has made us feel afraid of being alone, as we would have to confront and form our own thoughts, instead of being passive thinkers. The body has become overstimulated from the abundance of advertisements, push notification and the numerous applications in our phones. When we confront ourselves during our time alone, there are no stimuli.
The body recovers physically and mentally from our time awake through sleep. Every second, we visually absorb around 70GB of information. This enormous load of information does not include the information absorbed by the nerve cells, the hearing process, smelling, and others. All of these functions need to be combatted and enhanced with the right amount of sleep, moving information from the short term to the long term.
There are several factors which determine how well we sleep. Research shows that 7 to 9 hours is the best duration one can have to sleep, but this is not always achieved.
Our entire day is dedicated to things that need to be done, and our mind needs time to relax before we sleep to feel less stressed. Yet, we spend the time before we sleep on our phones scrolling through social media, hoping to feel lethargic while doing so. Our eyes are exposed to blue light when they are open. At the moment we shut them, melatonin is secreted to induce sleep. LED screens prolong and hinge the release of melatonin before sleep, therefore making the use of technology a factor of how well we sleep.
People working night shifts have a drastic difference in the sleep pattern that is naturally followed by. Diet also contributes to how we sleep. Some prefer to eat before they sleep, as the blood flow from the brain increases its concentration in the digestive system, making the body feel lethargic. The common sleeping pattern today is monophasic, meaning that people would sleep once during 24 hours. Biphasic sleeping patterns, meaning sleeping twice in 24 hours.
People value the relationship that they have with food. Apart from being crucial to our health and diet, it can be an experience of life, as some people create an emotional attachment, either as a habit or due to the culture that they are brought up in. This relationship is reflected in certain experiments carried out on food, where the intermolecular structure is affected by the channel of energy and vibes exerted by people around it, creating a different or mutual frequency. From a young age, children dislike foods such as vegetable because of its dry taste.
If you’re in the habit of, for example, always eating meat, a food which as a strong taste, and then eat an apple, then you taste nothing. The bacteria in the biome of your digestive system would be used to the taste of a specific food. In this way, if society advertises a type of food which is cheap and unhealthy, the body would get used to its taste and build a habit of cultivating bacteria specific to it.
Although food is a big factor in our health and is a very sensitive subject to approach, an active lifestyle goes hand in hand with it. Some people who eat a lot and do a lot of sports are more strong than others. Exercise is extremely healthy, as bodily movements are dependent on muscles that relieves toxins and filters the body.
Habits and Time-Management
In today’s society, if you cannot manage your time, then you can manage nothing else. Time is a resource that never runs out, but time used wrongly can never be recovered. The only free time we have is wasted on procrastinating through social media, as they wouldn’t be gaining anything from what they do. For example, a person has a personal goal of becoming a writer, but is currently working a job he doesn’t like to pay the bills. It’s not the 9-5 job that is important, but what you do after when you get home. Instead of cultivating the habit of writing, he ends up procrastinating on social media.
We are expected to think that someone is waiting for us on social media, so it is at the top of our mind and it makes us anxious throughout the day and less focused on our current task, making us feel overwhelmed. Most students today and children spend their time indoors studying and playing on technology, further decreasing their health by being deprived more time outdoors.
Relationships have changed throughout the years as well. Before technology made it easily accessible to be a phone call or a text message away, friends did not meet that often and only by circumstance or chance. Now, we are available at any time needed, meaning that we have reduced the time we have for ourselves. Consequently, where friendships used to be quality over quantity, social media favours quantity over quality.