Arguably every dis-ease the humxn experiences has its roots in, and/or is made worse by, stress. Stress, both long- and short-term, creates a whole range of impacts in the body – on a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual level.
The cascade of stress response hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, norepinephrine, and the like, surge, which increase heart rate, blood pressure, and our breathing, as well as impact normal and smooth functioning of the digestive system, our other hormonal systems (we have a lot!), our ability to think and feel clearly, and so much more.
While this may not sound like a huge deal, it all compounds over time, and dis-ease results. The worst part is that many of us are in this “switched on” stress response mode for much of our day…
Things like sitting in traffic, arguing with a family member, ingesting substances that your body doesn’t digest well, continually consuming information, skimping on sleep, using stimulants, etc. are all examples of stress in the system that deplete our reserves and assault the nervous system.
Replenishing Our Reserves
If we think of ourselves as having a lovely inner reserve storage, like a savings account, the impacts of daily life (when left unchecked) quickly deplete the account and put us into a negative balance! Those things we think are “energizing” us like caffeine, sugar, brutal workouts, etc. are actually even more depleting.
We must consciously choose thoughts, actions, behaviors, and practices that replenish our inner reserve to build our resiliency, immunity, clarity, and long-term joy.
Stress can also be positive: appropriate and enjoyable exercise, excitement, anticipation, trying something new, sex, working hard on a project you love, etc. While the body responds slightly differently to what we experience as positive or negative, the differences in the system aren’t all that major.
Our bodies don’t know the difference between being chased by a tiger or yelling at our printers for not working.
Don’t misunderstand me. Stress is necessary. It becomes detrimental when it’s all we know and rather than enjoying gentle waves of times of stress followed by times of restoration, we only know a flat line or an upward trajectory of stress.
Switching Into Rest Mode
We need ways to switch off from being in stress-mode and into chill-mode. From sympathetic nervous system to parasympathetic nervous system, respectively. We weren’t designed to exist with the amount of stress we receive on a daily basis, and certainly weren’t meant to sustain it.
Telling someone who’s chronically stressed and just trying to make it to “rest” can almost be insulting. The last few years, regardless of how you feel politically, have been trying for many people. Rather than add tasks to our lists or scare us with the negative impacts of chronic stress, I am inviting us to simply open our awareness to some different perspectives and ways of being.
While in “switched on” stress response mode, it can feel as though we’ve lost control and the walls are closing in around us. The following invitations are ways to see what you actually can influence and how subtle changes can make some profound differences!
The Link Between Stress + Shame
It’s so important to acknowledge the programs of shame that underlie stress. Why are we working ourselves so hard? Why are we resisting replenishment? Why are we settling for something in our lives that is so depleting?
- Be selective about what you consume; it all must be digested.
- Everything we consume through the senses must be digested. TV, media, images, scents, music, sounds, textures, foods, experiences, emotions, etc. Every input creates a response. I spoke about this with the principle of cause and effect. How can you limit or remove consumption of things that aren’t supporting you?
- Be mindful of your attitude and your thoughts.
- This is probably the most important aspect of adopting a mindset of restoration and nervous system care that over time will have greater impacts on your overall wellbeing than anything! No one else controls what’s in your own head. That’s all you and it’s empowering. Take advantage of it. Be aware of how you’re running your energy. The InnerSpark Energy Management Tools are a phenomenal resource.
- Be choosy about your circle and your boundaries.
- Are there people in your life that feel depleting? Are there people in your life with whom you’d benefit from setting better boundaries? Check out my podcast and blog post on setting boundaries.
- Engage in meaningful rest and rejuvenation such as meditation, breathing exercises, restorative or yin yoga, snuggling with animals and/or people, and of course, simply sitting and doing nothing.
- These suggestions are the cherry on top of living a mindset of restoration and nervous system care. When first beginning a practice of intentional rest and nervous system care, sitting still to engage in these practices may feel scary, impossible, unreachable. Meet yourself where you are and be compassionate with your system. When it’s been “on” for so long, it’ll take a while for it to come down.
- Practice adopting an attitude of restoration and nervous system care. It’s a mindset that can be applied anytime – even during your busiest seasons of life.
- Release the need to rush, to hurry, to be productive all the time, to override the needs of your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies.
- Align with your own internal seasons and observe the invitations of the external ones, too.
- Nature has given us a natural blueprint for optimal living. All we have to do is follow it. Observe Nature and begin to align with her wisdom to find a sense of permission and inspiration to have your own cycles of rest, acceleration, action, and slowing down.
Bottom line, the idea is to consciously switch out of “on mode.” And although modern life tries to keep us on all the time, we actually do have a tremendous amount of influence over this ability. It’s a mindset and a conscious choice that will positively impact every single aspect of our life.
Share with me: How are you practicing an attitude of rest and nervous system care?
The InnerSpark Method is a revolutionary, whole-person approach that guides deep-feeling, sensitive women in identifying, uprooting, and transforming shame into a positive influence that has the potential to guide them towards wholeness, self-trust, and thriving in body, mind, and spirit.
Ready to get to the root of your burnout, ditch people-pleasing, self-sabotage, and anxiety, and discover your true, shame-free nature?
Sweet Soul, it’s time to live from your InnerSpark.
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