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But people just needed to “just breathe” — giant slow breaths, in through the nose out through the mouth.
It calmed the body and slowed the mind which, given the pace of life today, was definitely needed, he said.
Mr Burdett, the founder of WARN International, was guest speaker of Rural Support Trust Mid Canterbury, speaking to 180 people at an open community event at the Hotel Ashburton.
It is the second time the trust has brought Mr Burdett to Mid Canterbury, to give people insight in to how their mind works and the skills to switch off and stop negative thoughts.
He also spoke to pupils at Ashburton and Mount Hutt Colleges.
“Our brain is working five to eight times faster than before — it’s in continual fight-or-flight mode.
“It’s way too much information going in, way too fast. Urban or rural it doesn’t matter everything we do today has become so complicated.”
“Life has got too busy ... Our default setting is anger — that’s how we survive.”
It had led to overthinking with increased negative thoughts, sleep problems and much worse.
He said as a result of life’s fast pace, there was more internal narrative going on in our heads.
It needed to stop, or be directed into more positive thoughts.
“Sleep’s not important, it’s critical” as a way to combat mind fatigue.
In explaining ‘‘the science behind our brains” he offered tips to handle different situations and also encouraged people to sigh deeply, to release pressure in the body and create oxygen flow.
Mr Burdett said times had changed since the days of our prehistoric brains; we did not talk to others like we used to, there was too much information being processed by our brains and we had higher expectations of ourselves and wanted more for less while looking after the environment.
He encouraged people to “run to the fire. Do something about what you’re worrying about,’’ rather than letting the small things fester.
He suggested writing down a problem or issue, then listing ‘‘what could happen’’, followed by ‘‘what’s likely to happen’’, with a list of ‘‘what can be done’’ about it.
He also said speaking to others used to be the first thing we did when we needed a problem sorted, but now we internalised them.
“We are just not talking with each other the way we did before.”
With our brains overloaded with everyday life choices, it was on heightened alert and on the lookout for signs of danger — another hark back to our prehistoric brain.
‘‘We have relaxed. We don’t have to think anymore. We have technology. We’ve lost control.’’
He said it was natural for people to talk to themselves but ‘‘we all have a negative bias’’ and most of that talk was going to become negative self-talk. Any negative emotion caused a state of alertness — with the default position being anger — but positive emotion was calming.