By Reeva Misra
Photo Credits Jaime Mitchell
Taking control of your health is not easy, particularly when you have a busy, stressful job, and live in a society that does not promote an individual’s mental and physical wellbeing. Walking on Earth is your digital wellness coach. It will empower you to take control of your health by creating a bespoke wellness regime grounded in the latest scientific research, and connect you to the most trusted and sought after practitioners in yoga, meditation and complementary medicine.
Last year in the UK, over two-thirds of the population felt so stressed that they reported feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope. Stress caused more than one third of the population to experience suicidal thoughts and was responsible for over half of the sick days from work.
These results are staggering. Millions of us are experiencing damagingly high levels of stress in our workplaces and these incidents are only set to increase each year. Stress is one of the greatest public health crises of our time. It doesn’t just have a negative impact on our mental health, it also causes a series of adverse reactions in our body that, over time, lead to debilitating and chronic illnesses. Yet we live in a society that applauds stress and views it as a necessary byproduct of success.
I witnessed first-hand how stress permeates our society. I studied at the best institutions in the world and received top grades. Suffice to say, I had my fair share of stress. I was always told that I could achieve my dreams in life if I worked hard. Whilst studying at Oxford University, I became passionate about understanding how our brain works, publishing research on the neurological underpinnings of how we perceive the world and how our senses interact in space and time. Keen to experience living in India, where my parents grew up, after university I decided to work for a film production company in Mumbai and stumbled across yoga.
It was as if I had unlocked a superpower. I realised for the first time what it felt like to not be stressed or anxious. The simple act of training my attention and focusing inward provided me with a transformative sense of clarity. It helped remove the clouds of indecision, uncertainty, and noise that had previously dominated my mind and provided me with a strong sense of conviction.
We are permanently flooded by so much external influence that it is no surprise we have lost the ability to be in control of our health. We are brought up by society to view taking time out for ourselves as a sign of weakness. With the constant pressure to adapt and innovate, it feels like time is constantly running faster and faster. Our society teaches us to thrive under pressure.
I completed my 300 hour teacher training in Jivamukti yoga to deepen my understanding of the ancient practice and learn about it’s transformative effects on our body. I delved deeper into the modern day science behind ancient wisdom, and became fascinated by Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine created 5,000 years ago. It amazed me to learn that the ancient rishis prescribed different treatments to people depending on their unique body composition, a concept modern medicine is only recently adopting and terming a personalised medicine approach. I realised that Ayurveda has survived and lived on for thousands of years because of its transformative power in viewing health as an interconnected network of our mind, body and environment, providing a solution to the complex lifestyle related disorders of our increasingly overstimulated lives. I started speaking to the leading modern day scientists in the field of integrative health and found really compelling evidence of the scientific explanations for these ancient, holistic practices.
At the same time, I was working for one of London’s hottest tech startups, creating an AI platform to transform the way we design and develop new medicines. The more I learnt about the industry, the more I realised how disempowered we, as individuals, are when it comes to our health. The drugs that are developed to treat our ill health are chosen by pharmaceutical companies who are driven by sales potential rather than true human need. Insurance companies, hospitals, pharmacies, and physicians are deciding our health and each brings into the equation their own biases that weigh into what medicines ultimately end up in the market. On top of this, the best selling medicines only work in under half the people they’re prescribed for, and that’s before you take into account all the side effects from the treatment.
Coupled with poor lifestyle practices, we have created a society where 70% of deaths are due to chronic diseases for which we have no cure. Our current healthcare system just isn’t equipped to tackle these diseases that require a complete understanding of the mind, body and the environment we live in. We are living longer but we are not living better.
As an aspiring entrepreneur and someone who had witnessed the power of ancient practices in addressing the challenges of modern life, I knew I had to do something to help people take their health and wellbeing back into their own hands. I started Walking on Earth to provide individuals with the tools and knowledge to take control of their health. To help them set and achieve realistic wellness goals through a platform that brings together the most qualified practitioners, and explains the science behind the method.
With so many different trends, fads and new health practices, people find themselves receiving conflicting information and having to spend hours researching to find the right methods, practitioners and health information they need to live better. Walking on Earth meets this urgent need. It filters the latest research, sources the world’s best integrative health practitioners, and leverages technology to design a bespoke wellness programme catered for each user’s specific needs and profile. Each individual’s progress is monitored through the platform and their individual health data is analysed to create a truly personalised solution allowing them to better understand their health and meet their performance goals.
And I realised this had to start in their workplaces. Workplace stress is a problem that we can no longer afford to ignore. It has become so severe that the World Health Organisation officially recognised burnout as a phenomenon of chronic workplace stress. We spend roughly one third of our lives at work. We need to bring our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing back in balance and it is an employer’s duty and best interest to be responsible for this.
In an age where we use technology to advance all aspects of our life, we shouldn’t be leaving the most crucial element behind. Through Walking on Earth, I am creating a new model for health, where we as individuals are conscious of the impact of every action we take, from the food we eat, to the things we put in our body – our every movement and emotion. I hope to create a world where we are able to experience each moment in life, rather than float past it in a distracted, absent-minded way. Where we are in control of our wellbeing and, in turn, collectively create a society that is more empowered, connected and fulfilled.
(This piece originally appeared on Thrive Global)