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Do you have a NERVOUS System? (Pun intended)

HAS STRESS BECOME YOUR NEW NORM?


Hi friends, I'm back in this space! It’s been some time since I’ve written a blog, but hopefully you've still been following my social media shenanigans in that time.


A lot has happened in the last 2 plus years. The world shut down & lost its brains a little, & who knows if they will ever come back.

I hope that in all of the shenanigans that have occurred, that you’ve been doing as best you can in the circumstances. Adulting is a challenge on an average day, let alone with global & personal dramas being ever present & all up in your face!


I wonder how your nervous system is going right now after the onslaught of the last few years. Do you even know? Have you had space to properly check in with yourself? Do you know how to check in with yourself?


My guess is, & I want to be wrong, but I suspect that you’re on high alert most of the time (& you possibly don’t know it either, because it has become your new norm).


If you are a Blue Mountains local, as I am, first we had the fires of 2019/20 & then the 'big C' hit, following up with relentless waves of restrictions & personal limitations to work & life & boundaries being blurred. Maybe you have actually managed it ok, but have picked up on the collected energy.


All of this uncertainty & change has probably left more of us on edge than we realise. Life had to continue & you probably didn’t have time to effectively process what happened. I wouldn't blame you, it was pretty relentless!


Nevertheless, this is how stress becomes the 'new norm'.


I'm sure you've heard this before, but just in case you haven't... When we're stressed, cortisol peaks & we have a mostly involuntary response, the 'fight or flight' response (also freeze & flop). Our mind & body react in a certain individual way to the perception of stress we experience. But then it’s natural for cortisol to drop once the ‘threat’ has gone, & we naturally slide back into a state of equilibrium again. Phew!


The problem though, is that for many the ‘threat’ is constantly all around them, day in, day out (um... modern life right!). And so, cortisol is always being switched on & running through the body. (I'm not demonising cortisol either, it has many important & necessary functions).


With this in mind though, if you haven’t had enough time to process & reset your nervous system in between stressful events, they are too frequent or there has been a traumatic/serious event, you may unintentionally develop a new high base level of stress because you are in a constant & even chronic state of stress most of the time.


I’m not here to tell you how bad things are & all of the potential for illness & disease that chronic stress can encourage. While it's true, that isn’t always helpful or empowering. Instead, I want to share some tips that can help you regain some power again.


Some stress is actually good for us. It's called Eustress. It helps us to adapt & progress. We actually need some stress & challenge so that we can evolve. This is how we have evolved as a species!


However, it’s this low to high level chronic stress that creates inflammation in our mind, body & spirit. This is the stress that must be managed because it becomes toxic for the body.

The good news is that there are absolutely things you can do.


Regardless of what you do, I want you to know that I see you doing your best everyday. And that is always enough. You show up for life, even when it feels hard & you don’t want to get out of bed. But you make it through every tough day regardless, that deserves some acknowledgement.


Circling back to knowing how stressed you are.


Here are some questions to ask yourself to check in with your Nervous system. Get a pen & paper out or take the time to consider each question & reflect.

  • Do you feel on edge some of the time or most of the time?

  • Do you have a racing mind, always thinking about the things you have to do? Constant to-do list on download in your mind.

  • Do you rely on caffeine & junk food for energy?

  • Are you tired & experience fatigue some of the time or all of the time?

  • Do you wake up feeling rested or still tired?

  • Do you get quality & adequate sleep?

  • Are you too tired to be physically active or workout?

  • What is the quality of your breath like? Is it shallow & strained? Do you even notice it?

  • How clear are your thoughts, do you have brain fog?

  • Can you connect with your feelings & emotions?

  • Are your feelings stable or at either end of the spectrum of awareness? (very obvious & externally expressed or are you feeling numb?).

  • Are you able to maintain your work with ease & focus?

  • What is your general outlook on life? Positive or negative?


These questions are NOT here for you to berate yourself. They are simply here for reflection. We always reflect with loving kindness & self compassion.


Next, some other questions to consider.


When you do experience a stress response what is it like for you? Are you aware of how you react?

Hmmmm, stop for a while & reflect here. In other words, where do you feel stress in your mind/body?


The thing to ask yourself in the moment of stress, how is my body reacting/mind? What is my body/mind asking for right now?

Reflecting on this question can give you the answer on how to proceed. The answer in managing stress is in noticing the communication of your mind & body's reactions to stress.


The good news is that there are two pathways that you can utilise to manage stress & help regulate your nervous system. (For best effect this becomes part of your lifestyle)


The top down approach is using the logical brain. This is housed in the Prefrontal Cortex (the front of your brain, the area of your forehead. This was the last part of our brains to evolve). Think metacognition & executive functioning skills.


Top Down strategies try to bring about psychological transformation by shifting thought patterns, at this level of the brain. If we can change thought patterns, this can shift our feelings & improve physical symptoms over time.


This could be things like talking therapy, talk processing, mindfulness, meditation & others. The process of journalling can be very helpful too.


The other pathway is the bottom up approach. This approach relates to the Brain Stem (the very first part of our brains to evolve), this is our survival brain. And the Limbic brain (involved in our behavioural & emotional responses, including the thalamus, hypothalamus, but two of the major structures are the hippocampus & the amygdala, which you may have heard of).


Bottom Up strategies are focused on the body, how we take in the world through our senses & movement. Learning to notice emotional/physical sensations, as well as learning how to relax & regulate the body & emotions. Sensory & movement base activities are a great way to support yourself here.


Nevertheless, both pathways ultimately aim to achieve the same thing, to bring you back to homeostasis (balance).


In the same way that we can use these 2 different pathways to help self soothe, they can also be used to describe the way in which you experience stress personally. This is where the question & reflection; how is my body reacting/mind? What is my body/mind asking for right now? can be helpful for you. Is one pathway more prevalent than the other? Is your stress response expressed in the mind or the body? Or both?


Now you can uncover the current habit around stress & what your preference (unconscious reaction) has been to date. Once you have awareness of this, you can then access more control over it with your conscious mind. Or do some NLP with me (shameless plug) & we can invite your unconscious mind to join the party too. Accessing the unconscious mind is power stuff, it can help to reprogram the mind.


You can choose to respond rather than react, that is empowerment!


You might have a natural preference for one pathway more than another, however you can also utilise both. There are no limits to exploring your emotional regulation & self soothing.


I created this FREE PDF with a variety of strategies on there for Top down & Bottom up approaches. These are just ideas, please make it your own.

Top Down and Bottom Up Approaches
.pdf
Download PDF • 428KB

Your health & wellness is your responsibility & so it should be considered as part of your daily lifestyle for optimal vitality & quality of life experience. I don’t say that to be harsh, but it is a fact no matter how much we may want others to look after us some days. I have that same feeling often too! But, it is really my responsibility & mine alone as an aware & independently functioning adult.


It’s incredibly important that as best we can, we try to manage our stress levels with as much awareness & self compassion as possible. Speaking from personal experience of chronic stress & burnout as a High School Teacher, these things can get away from us too easily.


I also 100% understand that sometimes we do go through periods of high stress & there may not be much at all that we can do to manage the situation itself. In these instances, just do what you can when & where you can, that’s it. #humanAF


My advice would be to build quality time in your life for things that support you to manage stress. Just 5 minutes a day can have a profound cumulative effect on managing stress. When you manage stress you manage inflammation. And less inflammation means less risk of health issues & better quality of life.


Utilise the FREE PDF (see link above to down load) for ideas on how to do that. At first they could simply be tools to ease stress in the moment, but hopefully over time they become habits & activities that help you to build your stress threshold, so that in times of stress you can manage it with more ease & less impact on your mind & body.


So, as many times as you can & need to, check in with your nervous system (daily even) & take appropriate action to support yourself. Only you can do this (that feels like a Power Ranger statement. Now I'm imagining it in my mind with arms moving through the air! lol).


If you don’t know what to do, reach out for support to a trusted person in your inner circle, a medical professional or someone like me, a Holistic Health Coach that can support & guide you to build this into your life. Even though you are more than capable, you don’t have to do this on your own. There are people where you have been now & they can show be a guide on the side to help you get to a more vital frame of mind & body faster.


Bringing all of my disciplines together as a Yoga Teacher, Holistic Health Coach & NLP practitioner in training, I can support you in a personalised plan for managing stress, specific to your needs. I can provide guidance in many aspects of your life. We work through it together, to design a way specific just for you. The thing that I'm currently loving about learning NLP is that it is like having a manual to your mind. Change doesn't have to be long & difficult anymore.


If any of this intrigues you then please reach out to book in a free discovery call or go to my website for more details. So much love to you friend.


I hope this article helped and you utilse the tips. Let me know how you get on with it.


Keep fighting the good fight!

Big love & peace out xxx



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