Most of the blogs I write are about stuff I need to hear myself. This one’s a good one! When we are afraid, our Sympathetic Nervous System kicks in (ie “fight or flight” part). And when the SNS kicks in, it releases all kinds of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones are necessary when being chased by a rabid dog, but not so helpful when we are trying to improve our Health and Wellness. The first thing clients get from me when we work together is my Guiding Principles of Wellness handout. These are 8 simple principles that have a big impact on our wellness, such as choosing the best quality of food you can, making some kind of physical movement a priority and so on. Guiding Principle #8 is “Keep it Simple!!! Don’t let yourself get too stressed out over making changes to improve your health”. This is so important!!! It will allow your Parasympathetic Nervous System (the "rest, digest and repair" part) to be in the driver's seat!
I have recently been studying anxiety and “trauma informed” behavior and what I’ve learned is that, when it comes to making changes to our Wellness, it’s important to approach these changes with a lens of Love and not Fear! In other words, have the perspective that you are eating more veggies, or moving a little more because you love yourself and want to nurture and care for yourself, as opposed to being afraid of getting sick or feeling “less than” because you don’t like how your look. Here’s some examples of what I mean:
1. You know you need to reduce the sugar and processed food in your diet:
a. With a Fear based perspective, you might be having thoughts such as “I am overweight and I’m really worried I’m going to get diabetes” or “I better get it together or I’m going to get heart disease just like my father”. You try to do a crash diet of eliminating everything at once, in a panic because your blood sugar or cholesterol numbers are climbing.
b. Instead, with a Loving perspective you might say “I want to care for this one body that I’ve got, so I want to nurture her with whole, nutritious foods” or “I want to be healthy and have quality of life so I can enjoy time with my loved ones”. You make a slower, more sustainable plan to improve your eating, one that you can enjoy and live with for lifelong wellness.
2. You are having a chronic pain issue (ie something that has been going on for a long time, like joint pain, IBS, headaches, anxiety etc):
a. With a Fear based perspective, you might be going to a million doctors, feeling desperate to “make the pain go away” or feeling fear that you won’t be able to do the things you love to do. You anxiously do the PT, the acupuncture, the herbs, the supplements, just waiting to feel better and feeling panic if it doesn’t “work”.
b. With a Loving perspective, you accept where you are right now with the pain, maybe you do some treatments because you want to love and soothe your body but not to “make it go away”. Calming our nervous systems with meditation, massage, hot baths, activities that bring joy will make these chronic conditions better. You can take the herbs or do the acupuncture, but do them as a loving act for yourself and not an overwhelmed attempt to improve things.
This is a simple concept but not always so simple to achieve. Our emotions often get the better of us and we don’t even realize it. This is a good time to employ the Mindfulness practices that I’ve talked about before…be Mindfully aware of all of your thoughts, feelings and physical sensations with NO-JUDGEMENT, with Compassion for yourself and with curiosity about it all. Journaling about whatever is coming up is a good way to release trapped emotions, as is talking about it with a trusted friend, therapist or your friendly, neighborhood Health Coach😊. Here’s to more Love and less Fear!