For many of us, from the moment we wake up in the morning until we plonk ourselves down in front of TV at night, the day has been a relentless blur of To-Do lists; worry about things that have yet to happen; less-than-healthy choices and reliance on technology.
For me personally, the result is stress, anxiety and disconnection. Disconnection with body, heart and spirit and the people that matter to me.
Whatever your world view, the stress of the modern world on the human body and psyche can’t be argued. Time saving devices seem to take away time; and a conventional diet, work and the constant pressure to ‘do more’, ‘be more’ takes it’s toll on our health.
Stress, or rather our body’s innate ability to react to stress, was designed to protect us. In primal times stress triggered our nervous system into ‘fight or flight’ to run from predators, to protect our young. But today’s stress isn’t a sudden tiger attack, rather it’s lifestyle stress and it’s constant, it’s chronic and increasing evidence is showing, stress can be a killer.
In modern times we have changed the way we ‘handle’ stress; suppressing it with alcohol; stimulating it with nicotine or fueling it with processed food. Often we then respond with over-exercise, placing further strain on the body and nervous system. This can only be maintained for so long until cracks start to appear.
There is an ever increasing catalogue of evidence that shows illnesses such as adrenal failure, Alzheimer’s, liver disease, heart disease, depression, mood swings, digestion issues and many others could be attributed to stress.
The way to combat stress isn’t to do more, but to do less. To stop. To reset. It’s only when we give ourselves permission to pause and relax that the important process of calming the nervous system down, can begin.
It’s from this place of calm that you find ‘you’.
Here are four easy ways to soothe your nervous system and give your body a break:
1. Develop a regular ‘centering’ practice, like Yin yoga or meditation
In times of pressure it’s really important to be still and mix some ‘down-time’ into your life. Sitting quietly for a few moments in the morning before the day starts and in the evening before you go to sleep, on your breath, will have profound effect on your day. Yin yoga is becoming increasingly popular as a countermeasure to the ‘yang-ness’ of modern life. A very meditative form of yoga, is especially beneficial if you favour intense physical activity like Cross Fit, Running or high intensity workouts.
2. Cut the coffee
This has been a game changer for me. Caffeine stimulates the body to produce the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, and in times of stress, we don’t need more of those!
3. Cultivate a diet that supports a healthy nervous system
Don’t let your diet become something that stresses your body. Choose real, unprocessed food, emphasizing fruit and veggies. There are some crucial vitamins and minerals that help in times of stress that profoundly affect the functioning of our nervous system. You can do this both through choosing the right foods and taking supplements. Magnesium, licorice and maca are your adrenals’ best buds.
4. Get outside
Connecting with nature is an incredibly effective way to reset. Take a walk, sit on the beach, walk up a mountain and appreciate a view. Nature and the outdoors have a beautiful way of giving us perspective and helping us feel the flow and energy of life.
The most important thing to remember if you know you’re under stress or feeling run down is that ‘this-too-shall-pass.’ Especially if you take the time to nurture yourself.