So you want to relax? Seems we all do. When we’re so caught up in our whirlwind of thoughts we often fantasize about escaping it all and finally relaxing. So with the holidays approaching how are you going to relax?
What if that glass/bottle/carton of wine doesn’t cut it? What if when you’re sitting at the beach working on your tan, you’re still stressed? What if zoning out on the couch with the air con on, TV remote in one hand and phone in the other isn’t very relaxing? What if you plan to catch up on sleep and you can’t? While these things are all fun, they don’t revitalise the mind and body and may actually make things worse.
The stress loop
In order to truly relax our mind and body, we need to reset our nervous system. Many of us are trapped in a perpetual stress loop that we can’t escape. The body is tired but the mind is wired. We want to sleep but we can’t. The only way out of the morning brain fog and fatigue is several cups of coffee that leave us wired all day and unable to be still. Sound familiar?
In order to reset the nervous system, we need to convince the brain to relax. The brain receives signals from our body and can sense danger from the way we hold our body, the way we breathe and what thoughts we’re having. When the brain perceives threat, the stress response kicks in:
- the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol are released into the blood stream.
- our pulse and blood pressure increase while our breath becomes short and shallow
- digestion is halted as blood is shunted to our muscles (in preparation for fight or flight)
- the amygdala (fear center of the brain, animal brain) hops into the drivers seat – making us tense, irrational, reactive and a bit crazy.