The Mind - Body Connection
There's a tangible connection between the mind and the body and it's called the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve, also known as the vagal nerves, are the main nerves of your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). This system controls specific body functions such as your digestion, heart rate and immune system. These functions are involuntary, meaning you can't consciously control them.
Remember the last time you were under stress or emotional overwhelm? Did you get sick? Did you suffer from constipation? Remember the last time you had a great night's sleep? You felt relaxed, energized and calm. There's a big difference in the way our body responds depending on lifestyle choices, mindset, and attitude.
Our thoughts are intimately connected to the reactions of our body. The implications of this fact are far and wide. We have the opportunity to control the overwhelm, release the tension, let go of anxiety, and make sense of all the hurts that we've experienced. It's not always easy but there is a way out of the chaos!
Stress and trauma remain in the body well after the situation is over. It shows up in all sorts of ways. You may have skin issues, anxiety, digestion problems, and more. Your body doesn't know if something happened to you last week or six months ago. If the mind continues to draw on that memory and emotion, your body will responding by activating the stress response.
The Stress Response
Your body is wonderfully designed to protect. Right down to your cells and nervous system, your body always wants you to succeed. It's designed to make you flee away from danger and think clearly in times of extreme stress. It's called the sympathetic nervous system.
The problem is, our world deliberately pushes us into this sympathetic space downloading a cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters that are meant to save us from being eaten by a saber tooth tiger. Back in the cave man days this was a useful design. With the state of our world today, watching the news will throw us into the same stress response. Your career, relationships, household chores, food choices, organizing and planning, and the lack of time we all feel, can create a space for stress to throw us over the edge and engage the sympathetic nervous system.
That stress response was made for short spurts not the long haul we've been experiencing for the past few years. Staying emotionally and physically elevated can cause major physical issues such as weight gain, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hormone imbalance, increase heart rate, lower immunity, increase blood pressure, sleep disturbance and so much more!
While there should be a healthy tension between sympathetic and parasympathetic space, the scales get tipped into sympathetic (stress response) more often and it seems that we're not doing enough to come back down into the rest and digest space.
This MUST be intentional! Look at your calendar, find some time to carve out to start making daily deposits into your life accounts.
Find Your Flow
It doesn't take much to start living in that flow space. But here's what you need to know.... Your life is like a bank. Making daily deposits into your life accounts will keep the stress response from taking over.
Your Life Accounts
Most everyone has 5 Life Areas that I refer to as Life Accounts. If you are living the retired life, replace #5 with what has taken over your work-life.
Our job is to make "deposits" into these accounts daily to provide the calm (rest and digest) making sure that no account is depleted. Deposits look like:
Mental: Meditation practice
Social: Connecting with loved ones
Spiritual: Connecting with a higher power
Career: Creating boundaries
The Problem with Stress
What we fail to realize is that stress takes withdrawals from every single life account. Just like a bank, you can be bankrupt in a life account by a major unexpected stressor. How will you handle it? Just as you can be bankrupt, you can also have compound interest. All those deposits add up! When stress does hit, you'll have a surplus, easily able to handle what comes your way like the boss you are!
Our job is to allow the thoughts of our mind to create calm, ease, and flow in life. In doing this simple act, we are calming the body, relieving inflammation, coming back into physical internal balance.
If you need some quick ideas for making daily deposits, take the quiz and download a list of simple do-able actions that will help bring you into the rest and digest space. If you're ready to Bank Your Health and explore your life areas and daily deposits, let's have a chat about next steps.
Until next time, go live your best life remembering to make daily deposits into those life accounts with joy, adventure, and in community.