Sometimes life slows us down. People pull in front of us while we are driving. The lane at the grocery story is longer than we anticipate. There is a world-wide pandemic that makes us shelter in our homes and stop our routines of eating out, gathering in community, or traveling for business. Mercury is in Retrograde for several months each year–this is the time that planet shifts directions and appears to be going backward in the sky. It is said that during these phases we need to take extra care as communications are often botched, and tasks take longer than usual to complete.
I’ve been looking for strategies to decrease stress, and down-regulate my stress response. Humans were wired for fight or flight… This is that lovely feature that helped our ancestors literally run from predators, and evade dangers. In today’s modern society our “bears” and”tigers” take the form of internal stressors. With the information super highway we are bombarded by stimulus on our phones, computers, and even in social media all day long. Our attention spans has gotten shorter as we scroll for the next article or photo.
Clients share with me that they “think they are handling it” and “keeping it all together.” Yet they have symptoms that they would rather live without–like anxiety, sleeplessness, weight gain, pain in their joints, and an ever growing list of auto-immune inflammatory responses.
Stress (real or imagined) releases cortisol, and adrenaline, those lovely fight or flight hormones that help signal the brain to push more blood to our legs and lungs so that we can successfully outrun those “tigers.” But what happens when those “tigers” don’t go away? We get adrenal fatigue, and that excess cortisol production which causes the body to hold onto excess belly fat (dang it). When we live in a state of continued, and repeated stressors we are taxing our immune response as well. Think of your Immune System as your personal first responders. These are your first line of defense against bacteria, viruses, and infection. IF your firefighters and EMT’s are constantly working, hustling out to respond to threats–well they’re running on empty too and when a bigger threat–say something like a Covid exposure happens–well your first responders may not be as strong as you’d like them to be.
How do we break the stress cycle–especially now, almost one year into a world-wide pandemic?
The best remedies are to develop strategies to bolster your resiliency. Simple things to support your health like making healthier food choices, drinking water for your brain, muscles, skin, and digestion. Going to bed earlier. Getting off your screens sooner, and giving yourself time to wind down. Unplugging the WiFi at night when you go to bed. Taking vitamins (our food supply is not what it once was). Decrease caffeine, shift to decaf and herb teas (albeit slowly IF you’re on the addicted side). Try shifting to “no added sugar.” Sugar is as addicting as heroine and cocaine, and it causes inflammatory responses in the body. Decrease your toxic exposure (perfumes, dyes, chemicals in cleaning products). All of these add insults to our already overloaded immune systems.
Exercise regularly. The American Heart Association has studied the effects of exercise on heart health. People who exercise are better able to handle stress. They feel less taxed when challenging situations arrise, and their heart rates return to normal, more efficiently than people who don’t get regular physical activity. Exercising 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week helps to build your stress resiliency–so that you can run from those proverbial “tigers” and shake it off, instead of carrying stress around.
Personally, I’m taking 2021 and choosing to embrace Intentional Slowing. That bears repeating–Intentional Slowing. Consciously eating slower, driving in the slow lane, and making meals–yes I’m embracing the slow food movement. I’m doing gentle and restorative yoga, sipping my chamomile tea, and working on mindfulness.
I hope you’ll join me. You’ve got everything to gain. We’re likely to be in this pandemic for some time to come. Let’s combat Pandemic-Fatigue and Embrace Every Day Calm.
Blessings, and Thanks for Tuning In!
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