Calming the Chaos

It doesn’t appear that the world will be slowing or calming down any time soon. I think most would agree that it seems to actually be amping up (hopefully not for long!). This has an effect on all of us, on a daily basis.

Because our nervous systems can’t tell the difference between an actual threat or a perceived one, when we are focused on what wasn’t good in the past or fear of potential future outcomes and feel worried or stressed about it, we are telling our systems that we’re in danger. 

We trigger, and maintain, the fight-flight-freeze-fawn response that’s supposed to be reserved for momentary action, like running from an adversary. Instead of being in that state briefly, then returning to the rest-digest mode our bodies want to be in most of the time, we remain on high alert. 

According to the American Institute of Stress the rates of stress, as well as mental and chronic physical illness, have skyrocketed in recent years. As a coach and sensitive, I know that these documented rates of stress are likely lower than the actual numbers, as some are not comfortable acknowledging that they’re struggling, and still others aren’t even aware that they’re being affected by various stressors.

A constant state of stress increases adrenaline and cortisol and other hormones and creates imbalance in the body. This affects our heart rate and blood pressure, immune system, even cell health, as if we are ingesting increased numbers of free radicals.

Because everything is energy, and our thoughts and emotions affect our physical bodies, it’s not so much what’s happening out there as what we think, feel and do about it…what’s happening ‘in here’. If we absorb everything deeply and don’t take care of ourselves, and we tell ourselves that it’s awful, won’t ever change, is hopeless, etc, we’re primed for disaster.

How can we calm our nervous systems and move out of chaos into rest and digest mode?

1. Get plenty of sleep. With more expectations and to-dos in our midst it’s ever easier to go without those precious hours of much needed sleep. We have to make it a priority.

2. Eat a healthy diet. If we fuel ourselves with things our body can’t use or too much of certain things, we can’t function at an optimal level. Our bodies start to work against us, to use up extra resources in the struggle just to process and maintain.

3. Take time out to recharge. We need down time to allow our systems to move back into rest and digest. This is not selfish…it’s necessary. We don’t expect our cars to run on empty. We can’t either.

4. Engage in mindfulness. Having a daily practice of techniques that keep us in the moment, letting go of the past/future worries, helps us regain the balance and peace our systems crave…and need.

5. Focus on joy. It’s important to have fun on a day to day basis. “All work and no play…” can not only make us dull, but adds to our experienced stress levels.

6. Connect. Having others to talk with who understand us, not to commiserate, but to buoy us up and feel supported, goes a long way toward feeling good.

7. Shift mindset. It’s so important to be aware of what we’re telling ourselves about the stressors in our lives. There is a lot we can’t control, but we can change what we think.

8. Be helpful. When we help others or make a difference in some way, no matter how small that way might be, we help ourselves. We change our perspective and actually increase the happy hormones, like oxytocin. 

Calming the chaos is possible, at least on the inside. We can help ourselves achieve balance even in a world that is very out of balance.

If you’d like some guidance with any of these practices, please do reach out. Asking for help is one one of those things that can immediately shift perspective and create hope.

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