There’s a lot of information about stress out there- pick up any life-style magazine and you’ll get the ‘Top 10 things to de-stress now’, or ’30 days to a stress free life’. There’s some pretty good info there, but you have to ask yourself, if it’s so easy, why is the media still telling us what to do day after day, year after year? The reason is, it’s not really working for us, and we still are looking for a way just to feel good.
If you start from the bottom up, you can make lasting change and imprint your cells and the systems of your body to be calm and joyful, and actually ‘re-set’ your happiness level.
Many helpful hints advise de-stressing from the top down- that’s thinking about stuff. Positive thinking, affirmations, creating the intention to bring relaxation and let go of stress. These are all good ideas! But when we are also working on a deep level, right down to the cells of our body, it builds a foundation that supports us, allowing our best intentions and all that thinking stuff to really work.
Your body likes to do one thing at a time.
Here’s what your cells have to do with it: All the cells and systems of our body are working together. There are 2 main states for them to be in, one is active, one is resting. If you’ve just eaten, it likes to digest. When all the cells are packed full of nutrients and energy, then the cells get active. Your liver cleanses the blood, your brain solves problems, or you run, dance, ski…you get the picture- but it can only do one thing at a time. It does not digest while you run.
When we try to do to much, the system breaks down and we get ‘stressed out’.
Some of our body’s activities are inherently stressful- physical and mental activities for example. Some are rejuvenating, like sleep and digestion. What our body wants is clear messages about when it’s safe to focus on what. In today’s society, our bodies aren’t getting clear messages, we are getting caught in a ‘catch 22’ in which we don’t get enough rest, enough time to absorb nutrients, reflect on our lives and what we are doing and where we’re going, and so on. As a result, when we want to work hard we lack the energy to accomplish what we need and want to do. Which makes us more stressed out! If we get over-whelmed, we may end up on the couch, with no energy left at all!
We have to get the ‘switch’ between rest and action working better.
When we are active our heart beats faster, our breathing is quicker, depending on what we’re doing, hormones are activating different systems of our body, and our nervous system is stimulated. After this excitement, the body needs rest, the heart rate and breathing slow, a whole new set of hormones signals the body that it’s time to rest and renew. This is going on at a level beyond conscious control, and like I said, the switch is getting sticky. Most of us are either too busy, doing things like eating on the run, or thinking about our problems when its time to sleep.
What happened? Why do we think we need to be constantly on the go to justify our existence? Or, maybe you’re like me, a busy mother and householder, comparing myself to all those full-time working women who somehow manage to do it all. Either way, we may be thinking we’re not good enough or haven’t accomplished enough and can’t sleep at night ’cause we’re worrying or obsessed about something or other. Whatever trauma or loss has us on this tread mill, the good news is, you don’t have to know, you just have to decide you’re going to do something about it.
Practicing feeling good is what I call connecting to your joy core!
Along with all the other stuff, like proper diet, exercising, and creating a positive attitude, you just have to practice slowing down. It feels terrific, and your body remembers. It learns to flip that ‘switch’ easily, and it learns to go deeper every time you practice. The daily practice supports you when the s#!t hits the fan. If you wait ’til you’re wound up like a helicopter, it’s way harder.
Do it every day, and when you need it, it’s there.
So, do yourself a favor, learn some yoga, practice it, and feel connected to your Joy Now and Forever! Because being joyful is a habit.
Frances Adamson teaches yoga in Oshawa- 279 Central Park Blvd. N