“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”
~ Soren Kierkegaard
Is it a cultural phenomenon with so many self imposed expectations in our fast paced lifestyle? It’s astounding how hard we are on ourselves.
Is it due to constant overstimulation of our nervous systems? A hundred years ago, computers, TV, cellphones and even light bulbs didn’t exist. Perhaps our system hasn’t had a chance to adapt to this constant bombardment of light & sound.
Is it due to the nature of our human existence? We have the capacity to think and plan for the future and our minds inevitably are overwhelmed with worrry and uncertainty of the unknown.
I don’t know the answers to my contemplations. But I do know that I constantly see my patients (and sometimes myself) stuck in “fight or flight” mode. In neuropsychology we call this the sympathetic dominance of the nervous system. It protects us when we are under stress and stimulates the stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine. The problem is our nervous system is not designed to stay in this mode and over time this leads to problems such as anxiety, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and insomnia.
So what do we do to shift ourselves into a deeper state of peace and relaxation. This journey is different for everyone but it starts with making an intention to make your health and wellbeing a priority and shift the habitual patterns of stress and anxiety. It is a journey of getting to know ourselves and being compassionate with ourselves. It is listening to what our feelings and our bodies have to tell us.
This may help to support this journey of relaxation:
This seems so ridiculously simple. Deep, diaphragmatic breathing promotes the nervous system to shift from the sympathetic “fight or flight” mode to the parasympathetic “rest & digest” mode. Practice taking a deep breath through your nose for a count of 4 and out through your mouth for a count of 4. Feel your belly softly rising and falling.
Meditaiton allows us to practice being in stillness. Something as a culture we are not used to. It allows us to see the business of our minds. It’s a wonderful and challenging practice which has made a tremendous difference in my life. Take 5-30min every day to sit quietly, undisturbed. Here are a few free resources for you if you’d like to try:
21 Day Meditation Challenge: www.chopracentermeditation.com
Open Heart Challenge: www.susanpiver.com/open-heart-project
Nothing helps us unwind & relax like a good sweat. Find something that you enjoy. Exercise can be a fun, social activity too. Added benefits if you exercise outside in the sunshine.
Nutriton & Herbal Medicine
Coffee & sugar are overstimulating to the nervous system and can aggravate anxiety. I know they offer immediate comfort in the moment and are highly addictive but are not helpful longterm for our emotional wellbeing. Focus on whole food nutrition and avoid the junk food.
Try green tea as an alternative or one of my favourite Shanti tea blends ~ Focus & Concentration as a coffee alternative which is simultaneously energizing & relaxing. To help our nervous system unwind try herbal teas such as chamomile, passionflower & oat straw.
I love acupuncture for stress & anxiety. Amazingly we know scientifically that the needles send a signal that calms the nervous system.
Sometimes we all need a bit of support on this journey of life especially when it is overwhelming. I wish you deep peace & happiness.