It was my birthday last month which is always a trigger for self reflection isn’t it? I’m the oldest I’ve ever been and am continuing to lay the foundations for long term physical and emotional well being.
…Which is easier said than done; I work full time, I’m studying for a Masters in London and almost completed my fourth Yoga teacher training. We’re all busy and hard working and experience stress. Stress isn’t good or bad, ‘stress’ simply means a provocation to a challenge, a call to act or react.
In the morning, you’ll experience a motivating wave of stress when you hear the alarm, and that’s what gets you up and out of bed. Stress can become harmful when we’re exposed to it for prolonged periods of time, without re setting, or when the stress response is triggered often, which it can be by the most simple task of opening your inbox (or just thinking about how many emails are in your inbox).
Here comes the science part:
The resting brain uses 25-30% of our body’s energy. It’s not 25-30% of our body though, so it’s a very demanding organ. The stressed brain uses up to 75% of energy in your body. It will take energy from other systems and processes in the body to meet its needs. Have you noticed when you’re mentally taxed you lose the desire to get up and move, you’re physically exhausted from mental exertion? You wake up with every intention of going to your Wednesday evening Yoga class, but by 5pm you’re shattered and want to rest on the sofa…
A lot of time is spent sitting and worrying about anything and everything, to quote a friend ‘I worry if I have nothing to worry about!’ The call to action we feel with an alarm going off is motivational, however a lot of the exhaustion, burn out, and anxiety we experience is due to keeping the body in a continually excited zone.
What we’re talking about here is psychosocial stress; worries about where we are in the social pecking order (physically or online), those emails again, money, safety, very much the first part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. When we sit and worry tissues become tense, we become smaller and tighter, more rigid. This hunkering down is our survival mode. We can’t survive and grow at the same time. It’s one or the other.
We’re not machines, but an analogy can help; Think what would happen to a car always driven at 100mph rather than being allowed to go up and down through the gears. 100mph would make crashes more likely, increase wear and the need for repair. This is how we treat our bodies ‘I’ll catch up on sleep at the weekend,’ but then never do.
The pace of life feels frenetic at times. I heard that have been a few TV series very well made and much loved, but received low ratings on Amazon and Netflix, and part of the criticism was because it released episodes weekly, rather than the whole series in one. We’ve sped up so much we can’t wait for things, expecting everything right away. I hear that sometimes from new students, how they need to ‘learn to switch off.’ We’re not machines (see above) we can slow down, settle and re set… But switch off??
I’ve reached the ripe old age of 33, and move and feel better than I did when I was in my twenties. In our society most people begin to ‘get old’ early in life. Our technology lets us live a long life, but also condemns us to live out those years in discomfort and fatigue. This can be a challenging concept to confront because it’s a problem of our own making.
My hope is this article, read on a device which is a little stressful for your nervous system is a gentle nudge to make a life long commitment to yourself. Receive a message from your body and mind spoken quietly, rather than waiting for a scream.
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