Important to take a break from stressful information gathering once in a while

Avoiding 'future shock'

I grew up in a small town in the West Kootenays in the late 1970s and early 1980s. We had a black and white television with five channels. We had a big garden where we would grow our vegetables and several fruit trees.

While we had electric baseboard heaters and a furnace, we relied on a wood stove to heat our house in the winter. Despite spending countless hours outside in different endeavors, we would always make it back home for a sit-down supper with other family members.

Al was my Grade 4 elementary school teacher. He was an animated primary school teacher who, along with his family, was our nearest neighbour. He played accordion, was artistically inclined and he let me borrow his small telescope to look at the moon and stars. He also let me borrow a book called Future Shock.

Future Shock was the best-selling 1970 book by futurist author Alvin Toffler. The main theme of the book was that too much change and too much information was deleterious to human health. The rapid rate of social and societal change contributes to personal disorientation and stress. That accelerated rate of change would leave people disconnected, burned out and disoriented.

“Future shock” was the term he coined to explain the effects of this accelerated rate of change on the human body. If anything, the effects of future shock are even more relevant today in the 21st century. Stress is a natural phenomenon that occurs to an organism when change is needed to adapt to different circumstances. Stressors can be physical, chemical, mental or emotional. Surviving in a changing environment requires adaptation to different circumstances.

A little bit of stress is good to help maintain proper homeostasis within the human body. A high level of intense, unrelenting stress can overwhelm normal homeostatic mechanisms and lead to ill-health.

The adrenal glands are the main organ of the body that deal with stress. The adrenal glands are a pair of small, triangular tissue that sit just above each kidney in the abdomen. Their main function is to secrete hormones in responses to different stressors. The hormones produced include adrenaline, cortisone, aldosterone and secondary male and female hormones, like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

Adrenaline is the “fight or flight” hormone produced in response to acute stress. It increases the heart rate and blood pressure, and acts as a strong general stimulant for the body. Cortisol is another stress hormone that increases blood pressure, decreases inflammation, suppresses the immune system and increases glucose metabolism.

Adrenaline is produced mainly in response to acute stress while cortisol is produced in response to chronic stress.

“Adrenal fatigue” is the term used to describe overworked and exhausted adrenal glands. It is a consequence of chronic and unrelenting stress on the human body. While probably not an actual disease, “adrenal fatigue” is more of a collection of stress-related symptoms or syndrome. The main symptoms of adrenal fatigue include fatigue, poor sleep or prolonged unrestful sleep, frequent infections and diffuse muscle aches and pains.

While the body has an incredible innate capacity to adapt to different situations and maintain homeostasis, the effects of chronic high-level stress can upset this balance. Future shock and a rapid rate of change without time for proper adaptation can lead to adrenal fatigue.

Nowadays we are bombarded with information overload, rapidly changing parameters and constant stimulation. The internet, computers and cell phones contribute to the 24/7 availability of news and social media. It is hard to turn our minds off, relax and dissociate from electronic devices.

The amount and rate of exposure to useless information is overwhelming and staggering. The short- and long-term effects of this exposure on human health is just beginning to be understood.

A digital detox can help treat information overload. Dropping out, tuning out and turning things off for a while can help mitigate the effects of future shock and information overload. Limiting exposure of electronic media can be helpful to help the body recuperate. Limiting viewing time on computers, televisions, cell phones and other forms of electronic media can be beneficial. Decreasing reading newspapers, and curtailing listening to news reports on computers, the radio and television can be useful.

Practicing mindfulness or purposeful focus of the here and now can moderate the effects of future shock and information overload. Spending quality time outdoors with yourself or others without media can be helpful. Breathing fresh from green spaces helps the mind relax and connect with nature. Getting involved in a hobby or craft that involves intentional focus is beneficial.

Connecting with nature can help mitigate the effects of future shock and unrelenting information and rapid change.

The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute medical advice. All information and content are for general information purposes only.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Doug Lobay is a practicing naturopathic physician in Kelowna, British Columbia.

He graduated with a bachelor of science degree from the University of British Columbia in 1987 and then attended Bastyr College of Natural Health Sciences in Seattle, Washington, where graduated with a doctorate in naturopathic medicine degree in 1991. While attending Bastyr College, he began to research the scientific basis of naturopathic medicine. 

He was surprised to find many of the current major medical journals abounded with scientific information on the use of diet, vitamins, nutritional supplements and herbal medicines.

Doug is a member of the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia and has practiced as naturopathic family physician for more than 30 years.  He maintains a busy practice in Kelowna where he sees a wide age range of patients with various ailments.

He focuses on dietary modification, allergy testing, nutritional assessments, supplement recommendation for optimal health, various physical therapy modalities, various intravenous therapies including chelation therapy.

An avid writer, he has written seven books on various aspects of naturopathic medicine that are available on Amazon and was also a long-time medical contributor to the Townsend Letter journal for doctors and patients, where many of his articles are available to view on-line. He has also given numerous lectures, talks and has taught various courses on natural medicine.

Doug enjoys research, writing and teaching others about the virtues of natural health and good nutrition. When not working, he enjoys cycling, hiking, hockey, skiing, swimming, tennis and playing guitar.

If you have any further questions or comments, you can contact Dr. Lobay at 250-860-7622 or [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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