How often do we say this without really understanding what it means? I thought it would be useful to do this week's blog on a bite size intro to the stress response and how we can manage it better.
It all starts with the autonomic nervous system, which activates the sympathetic nervous system and sets off the fight or flight response. This is when lots of physiological symptoms start: a racing heart, sweaty palms, a need to go to the toilet... And these (plus lots of others) signify that the body is ready for action, to run away or to face something. Usually, after whatever has prompted the fight/flight response has gone away, the body can return to normal, and this is where the parasympathetic nervous system will kick in. It calms the body and allows us to return to homeostasis, where the body is working optimally and adrenaline levels have returned to normal. This usually takes about 20 minutes.
However, for anyone who is feeling a bit physically or emotionally depleted, this process can take longer, or indeed it might not happen at all. Therefore, the body is left in a state of high adrenaline and high 'stress'. It can be very debilitating and uncomfortable. So what can you do about it? Well, this blog has never been about giving medical advice, so please see a doctor if you are at all concerned about your health.
Something you can try is practising calming yourself down and leaving little room for stress and anxiety to creep in and linger. You can practise 'emptying your bucket' daily, so you don't carry around unnecessary stress from one day to the next. The simple act of breathing properly deep into your lungs can help get you back to homeostasis. You can try meditation (plenty of calming meditation guides online). Exercise, especially outside, can work wonders. Making sure you have enough sleep is another way.
But if you need a bit of assistance with this, you might benefit from having someone else's help... which is one of the reasons why I love the retreats I run with my friend Julia. We both guide people through the process of calming down, through movement and through being still. Spending a couple of hours relaxing at the beginning of the weekend is rejuvenating, as it reminds your body how good it feels to be at ease. Our next retreat is on the morning of Saturday 21st April in Abingdon. Let me know if you'd like a place. Your body and mind will thank you for it! (More details at www.cleanwellbeing.com.)
Hi, I'm Joanna from Clean Well-Being.
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