Many of us in the North East recently lost power in a large ice storm. Sitting in the dark gave me some time to think. Disease of aging, heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and stroke are all on the rise. This is due in part to the fact that our society is getting older. People over 85 are the fastest growing age group. But the rise in chronic disease is also due to how we live our lives. We exist in an almost alien environment from that of our ancestors and evolution has not had time to catch up. Processed food, high stress, little exercise, and less sleep are today’s norm. Each of these factors is an independent risk for most, if not all of the diseases of aging. They promote inflammatory pathways that in turn increase our risk for disease.
We live in a society that places many demands on our time. Even after work and family there are cell phones, the internet, social networking, email, television, and video games; all of which are constantly available and clamoring for our attention. We sit more, we stress more, we eat more.
When the power went out, all of that went away; no computer, no television, no lights to stay up late. In addition, we were blocked in by downed trees and it was very difficult and dangerous to drive. So we sat together more as a family, we talked and walked outside enjoying the beauty and devastation of the ice storm, we went to bed earlier (there’s not a lot to do after it gets dark at 4:30pm).
While I do not recommend going back to a life before electricity (the ice storm really made me appreciate it), I do recommend trying to simply. And maybe, every once in a while, turn off the lights for your health.