When patients come to see me for the first time, it is often the case that they are unaware of how much their stress is playing a role in how they feel physically. Believe it or not, your emotions have very real implications on your physical body.
You will never catch me saying: “it’s JUST stress”. Stress should never been downplayed or undervalued. When our body is in a state of stress, our nervous system is interpreting its environment as a real threat. This means it will move into a sympathetic state (AKA flight or flight), this urgent “gotta get things done” state means our body is not in a state of relaxation. Our digestive processes will not be functioning as ideal and our body is consuming energy at a higher rate. Hello, burnout!
Our flight or flight response is not a bad thing – it saved our ancestors from those saber tooth tigers. It can be harmful when we don’t know how switch it off or simply don’t make the time. In that case, we are always on the go and running on that never ending hamster wheel of life.
Ok, the up side to all of this: it can get better with a little intention. Intention being; making time to do things just for the sake of that thing, not merely to just get through it or have it done. For example, creative activities like dancing, crafts or music.
Watching nature or time with uplifting friends is another great example. When we engage in purely experiential activities (not activities as a means to an end), it tells our brain “hey, there is no threat here – nothing to get done or run to”.
This moves us into the parasympathetic state (AKA rest & digest). Every person is different in what will work to switch them into rest – best advice I could give is have it involve some gentle body movement (checking out with television doesn’t count as much as you think) & be INTENTIONAL. Tell yourself; “resting is good for me”, “I welcome rest now” & “all is well”. Happy Resting.
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