Health Managing Self Wellness

Breaking the autopilot mode

Have you ever felt like you’re on autopilot? You get up in the morning, get ready for work, go to work, and then at the end of the day fall into a typical routine – maybe eat some dinner, watch tv and then back to bed so you can start another day tomorrow.

When you have a lot of things on the go, it is easy to slip into autopilot mode. This not only affects your physical health, but also your mental health because when we are not “mindful” of our body experiences, we don’t realize there are issues brewing until they manifest in some type of illness or disease. For example, we have been so busy working on our new website launch that I have pretty much been running on autopilot. My body was starting to get run down and exhausted, but I didn’t notice until I finally took a break to sit still. That’s when the cold sore came out, and I suddenly noticed how exhausted I had become and that I needed some time off.

We often see patients who have been battling digestive issues for months without relief, and it is only when they stop and listen to their bodies that we start to figure out the root cause, and the best place to begin with healing.

It’s not easy to break the autopilot mode, but it is possible. Start by doing something small like the deep breathing before you eat. I always suggest to people to place their lunch in front of them and to take a few minutes to breathe before they start eating. As they are breathing they will smell their food which will help activate their digestive system. Notice how you feel as you are breathing – do your shoulders feel tense? Do you actually feel hungry, or are you eating because it’s lunchtime and this is when you usually eat in autopilot. Once you begin eating, chew your food slowly, and thoroughly being mindful with each mouthful of food you eat. By doing this you will notice when your stomach feels full so you can stop eating and allow your body a chance to digest. By eating more mindfully, you may notice digestive complaints such as gas and bloating will diminish.

Another method is to go for a walk in nature. I decided to break up my nightly routine by going for a walk in the park nearby. I went for a walk in the forest and listened as the wind rustled through the trees, and felt the wind blowing gently through my hair. Looking around the forest was still and tranquil, and I could feel my breathing start to slow down and my body relaxing. No longer was I in autopilot, but I felt alive in that moment – more aware of how my body felt.

Depending on your work location it may not be easy to get outside to a park during the day. If you need a small escape I suggest taking a picture of your favourite place in nature, whether it is in a canoe out on the lake, in the middle of a forest, or meadow, or maybe by a beach. Anytime you need an escape you can look at this picture and remember how you felt when you were standing in that favourite spot. If you need to, close your eyes and think about that favourite place in your mind. See if you notice a difference in your body once you start to think of that relaxing, happy place.

By being more mindful about your body, you will begin to notice much quicker how you are feeling before it manifests into an illness or disease.

About the author

Michelle Heighington

I am a registered holistic nutritionist (RNCP and ROHP) who also holds a degree in medical anthropology. Having worked in the legal industry for 15 years I became familiar with the corporate lifestyle and culture, and how the dedication to work – and the addiction to caffeine and sugar cravings that come with it – can get in the way of achieving a desired work/life balance. Through corporate workshops, articles and providing customized nutrition advice tailored to busy lifestyles, I help people to stay healthy at work without losing billable hours or precious time after work. You can reach me at or visit my website

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