Wellness Rest and digest or fight or flight?

Think of a time when you were the most relaxed: your last vacation, a nice bubble bath or enjoying your morning coffee.  Your breathing was calm, you were happy and I bet you still remember the sound of the ocean or the feel of the bubbles on your skin.  This is your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) working, the rest and digest.

Rest and digest or fight or flight?

Now, think of the last time you were out of your mind freaked out.  Like when a centipede ran across the room in front of you or a close call while you were driving.  This is your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) hard at work.

These are two extremes, but how many times do you feel a nagging feeling in your stomach or like you are under constant pressure? This is your sympathetic system in overdrive.  This happens so often, most of us don’t even recognize we are stressed out anymore.  We have accepted this as our everyday life!!

Now, think back to that nice long bubble bath.  Already feeling more relaxed?  This is your body moving toward rest and relaxation and the parasympathetic nervous system and THIS IS WHAT YOUR BODY WANTS!!!!

Great you say, sure, who doesn’t want to feel more relaxed, but I bet you are asking – How do I get there?  There are several strategies to get to this state, but today we are going to focus on the following:

Become more Mindful

Sounds easy right?  But how many of us drive to work and don’t remember how we got there. Or, how often have you said: wow – where did the summer go?  Being mindful is noticing your surroundings and appreciating them for what they are.

So here is an easy exercise:

Take a moment and notice how your next meal tastes, try to chew more slowly and notice the texture and savor each bite.  Go have a piece of chocolate and really taste the chocolate.  Or, walk outside and notice how the air feels – is it windy, cold, or is the sun warming your skin?  Try to do this once a day for the next week and notice how you feel after.  

In the next article we will discuss your sympathetic nervous system in more detail and how that feeling of constant stress is bad for you as well as some more ideas to help you get more relaxed on a daily basis.

In the meantime, please reach out and let me know if you tried the exercise above and how it made you feel or if it helped.  

What do you think?