In honor of this week's celebrations of Hallowe'en and Day of the Dead, I've been thinking about the ways in which we become "zombie-like" when it comes to our own wellness and self-care.
Are we zombies?
While zombies are popularly known as flesh-eating monsters who've been raised from the dead, I also see zombies as creatures who live by habit and think nothing about the future or the past, only their immediate needs.
Zombies are also described as hypnotized individuals who have little or no powers of self-awareness, essentially mindless creatures who are able to move and walk yet seem to be relatively unaware of their own existence.
Aren't we sometimes like zombies?
Autopilot is Easy
It's admittedly easy to live on "autopilot" or "zombie" mode in our daily lives. We're busy, and when there are many demands on our time and energy, some things tend to fall by the wayside and we become more like robots (or zombies) than humans.
When many of us are experiencing stress, one of the first things to be left behind in the mess is self-care and personal wellness. While this may seem ironic and counter-intuitive, it makes sense since we often spend more of our time caring for others (and our work!) than ourselves.
So, under these types of circumstances, we fall into old habits and ingrained ways of being. Allthough this can be comforting and easy, sometimes we pay for it in ways we don't foresee (or maybe we do but we do it anyway!)
Is this zombie-like behavior? Maybe!
Staying Awake and Aware
If you're in a period of your life that's significantly stressful, do you notice ways in which you "fall asleep" in your life? Are there ways in which you operate by reflex and habit rather than by actual thought and planning?
One of the secrets to not falling into zombie-like autopilot is to stay awake and conscious of how you're living your life. This may sound silly, but since many of us spend so much time living on so-called autopilot, then it figures that we can stay in that place for months (or years) on end, ignoring habits and ways of being that need to change.
Without conscious awareness of what we're doing, it's impossible to change, so staying "awake" to how we live our lives goes a long way to actually changing when necessary.
In terms of how to stay awake, here are some ideas and suggestions that can get you thinking:
- Check in with yourself: sometimes we have to consciously plan to check in with ourselves about how we're doing. A quick two-minute meditation simply sitting in a chair or lying on your bed can be enough to bring you into the awareness of how you feel. Scanning your body or just asking yourself, "How do I feel and what do I need?" can be a great way to identify what's going on. A zombie would never do this!
- Partner with a friend or loved one: an "accountability buddy" can help you stay on task, so sometimes partnering with a friend, colleague or loved one to check in with each other can be wonderful. In this way, you check in with each other on a regular basis, and this can be done by phone, in person, or by video call. Doing this can be a motivating factor since you will want to have some positive things to tell your buddy! Do zombies ask each other for advice?
- Seek professional help: a coach or therapist can also hold you accountable and keep you on track. Just like a personal trainer, a coach might give you homework, assess your progress, and help you stay focused on what's most important. Some psychotherapists specialize in "body-centered psychotherapy" in which issues are addressed through the body and not just the mind and feelings, so this could be a fruitful approach for specific types of issues and concerns. Ever heard of a zombie therapist or coach?
Don't be a zombie!
Being a zombie and falling into rote ways of being is easy, but it's so much healthier to remain awake, aware and conscious of your needs. Take good care to stay awake--no matter what it takes--and fight the modern-day habit of being a self-care zombie who relies on bad habits to get him- or herself through the day.
If you need help and support, enlist a friend, colleague, loved one, coach or therapist to be your cheerlearder and accountability buddy, and enjoy the feeling of conscious awareness and the avoidance of a zombie-like existence that doesn't support your highest good and your greatest happiness and well-being!