Here is a slightly different piece - on relaxation. Maybe it's because I'm getting excited about our holiday at the end of August so relaxation is on my mind!
But in all seriousness, our state of stress or relaxation plays a huge role in how well our digestive system, immune system and brain/nervous system work as well how much muscular tension we carry around.
You may have heard of the fight, flight, freeze response. This is something we work a lot with in Kinesiology. The fight/flight response is an inbuilt survival response to situations of danger. Without needing to think about, the body will react to perceived danger by getting us ready to fight, run away or freeze.
Imagine walking in a park when you see something that looks like a snake slithering across your path. What is the first thing you do? (Answer = hopefully freeze or run away, unless you're a snake catcher in which case you may feel very at ease!) When the fight/flight response is active we are working out of our sympathetic nervous system (SNS). When we realise the snake is just a stick that looks like a snake, the fight/flight mode will switch off and we return to the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) or rest and digest mode.
In our day to day lives we have all sorts of perceived dangers or stressors that can elicit a SNS response. An argument with the children trying to get them ready for school, an unachievable deadline at work, ongoing back pain, hormonal imbalances, financial stress, postural stress from sitting at a computer all day, viral stress from the cold that is going around the childcare centre...
Enough layers of stressors build up and the SNS kicks in and sometimes stays on because we keep thinking about the financial stress or they are ongoing such as chronic pain. When we are functioning from the SNS many changes occur in the body:
blood flow is directed away from the digestive tract to the heart and the large muscles of the arms and legs so we are ready to fight or run
the immune system is suppressed
blood flow is redirected from the top part of the brain into the mid-brain and brainstem so we become more reactive and less able to think clearly, rationally and problem solve
the muscles of the calves, lower back, shoulders and jaw tighten ready to fight and to protect the neck and brain
This is all very useful for the 10 minutes when we are running away from a crocodile but it can cause many issues if we go in and out of FFFR all day or stay stuck in that mode and working from the SNS.
So...one of the best ways to return to the parasympathetic nervous system and come out of fight/flight response is to do a guided relaxation like Yoga Nidra, meditation or breathing techniques. There are many types of guided relaxation and meditation so find one that you enjoy and that resonates with you. Here are some examples:
Insight Timer - free app with lots of different Yoga Nidra and meditation examples.
Ananda Meditation - free app with multiple meditations based on the work of Paramahansa Yogananda.
Smiling Mind - free app about meditation and mindfulness appropriate for adults and children.
Yoga Nidra - Here is a link to a 20 min Yoga Nidra track that I use regularly: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1iLuyEJ2VztL7P-A7G1FS0TZNXENBj2m1
Or, of course you can go on holiday!
p.s. For lots of great information have a look at the previous blogs at www.collectivelements.com.au/blog