If you are feeling like you are alone in the world and everything seems hopeless, unkind and you feel disconnected or isolated it might be a time to start noticing what you are noticing. If you listen to the news or any general conversation it may appear our world is hostile and unsafe even though at the particular moment you are in no imminent danger it sure doesn’t feel like it in your body.
It seems many human being are existing in a constant stress response state. It may be helpful to understand what is actually happening in your body and how it creates your inner state.
The body’s neurological system has two regulating systems. The sympathetic system is our flight or flight response system and is activated when we feel frightened, threatened or unsafe. According to the Centre for Disease control, stress can cause the accompanying symptoms:
Rapid heart rate
Dilated pupils and flushed skin
Clenching of the jaw
Nonspecific aches and pains
As you can relate, on a short term basis this can be very helpful and can enhance our instinct for survival. What if this response has been activated a co-worker because they are 15 minutes late coming back from their lunch break and you have an appointment scheduled to find out the results of your blood work? What if you are laying in bed at night and your 17-year-old has missed their curfew by an hour and is still not home and they aren’t answering their phone. What if your phone goes off at 130 am with an Amber alert that a child in your area is missing?
I could write a novel with thousands of example but I am sure you get the general idea. The issue now becomes the flight or response system has been activated and now the chemicals that are responsible for the symptoms mentioned earlier are rolling around in your body. Where do they go and what is the long term effect on the body? We know that according to the Centre for Disease Control stress is the underlying cause for a significant number of physical and mental illnesses.
Could developing and committing to a regular wellness practice discharge this sympathetic response and potentially put our bodies back into a state of equilibrium?
The following symptoms accompany a parasympathetic (relaxed) response:
Blood vessels dilate leading to the GI tract, increasing blood flow.
The bronchiolar diameter becomes constricted when the need for oxygen has diminished.
Salivary gland secretion is stimulated, which accelerates peristalsis (gastric mobility).
Respiratory rate is slower and deeper.
Heart rate is slower.
Sexual arousal is stimulated
Now doesn’t that sound like a better way to spend your days and evenings?
Because we know that we are constantly stimulated by a stress response we could adopt a daily practice of discharging stress. The practice should be individualized with what you feel drawn to. I will be writing entries on all the options of practices and you can pick what works for you.
A daily wellness practice is the beginning to thriving in a perfectly imperfect life.
Select something to journal in, it could be anything, a scribbler, a beautiful notebook and think about your favourite activities you had as a child. Write them down in your journal. It is uncanny how many of these activities will actually become part of a thriving practice of your daily commitment to discharge stress.
The road to building a practice for yourself is not a linear journey. The journey for me was similar to a labyrinth. I became deeply fascinated by how the labyrinth is metaphorically so aligned with our own personal journeys through this thing called life. There is an entire labyrinth society….check it out https://labyrinthsociety.org/
The interesting this is that there are labyrinths symbolically used in many of the different cultures. As I began studying the practice of shamanism the circle ad spiral are prevalent in ceremonies and practices. It is important for you to understand what triggers your stress response so you may observe why and when it’s happening and then apply your practice to address your triggers. This is yours to figure out. When you begin to witness yourself and not get pulled into the tornado energy of a stress response, you can reclaim your life.
Think of your emotional pattern as a potential map. Notice when you feel activated by an emotion that feels uncomfortable such as anger, fear or jealousy. Notice when you feel joy, gratitude and compassion. According to a article published by Alan S. Cowen and Dacher Keltner entitled Self-report captures 27 distinct categories of emotion bridged by continuous gradients.
If you use the potential emotions as a compass, the emotions can become your best ally and teacher in understanding yourself as you progress through the labyrinth of your life experiences.
Are you ready to transform your life?