PEACE AND CALM OVER FIGHT -FLIGHT -FREEZE
PEACE AND CALM OVER FIGHT -FLIGHT -FREEZE
Today, I want to talk about how do we ignite peace and calm over fight, flight, freeze. We hear a lot about fight or flight, and it really is fight, flight or freeze that our nervous system can go into when it is triggered into the stress. The parasympathetic nervous system is the place that we want to be igniting, and that is our peace and calm wing of our nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system, which is our fight or flight or freeze a, is easily triggered and it is supposed to be on when we are in danger and need it. What happens is when we have anxiety panic, when we have PTSD, when we are struggling with phobias or just living a very high-stress life, we can get stuck in the sympathetic nervous system, being highly, triggered. It just flips on. It can only be the wind blowing across our face, and we are triggered. If something's wrong, we need to fix it. And today I want to talk about some of the ways that we can ignite the parasympathetic nervous system, our rest and digest, our peace and calm side or wing of our nervous system.
So first off, what is the parasympathetic nervous system? For those of you who haven't listened to many shows or haven't listened to the particular ones where I talked about this I'll just give a quick review of the parasympathetic nervous system, is where we naturally rest, where we live. We live in the parasympathetic wing of the nervous system, and this is where meant to be peaceful and calm and go through life being able to be resting, digesting, gathering new information and having all of our brain functioning. And that's what happens in the parasympathetic nervous system. It is the place where all of our healing takes place. Everything. It's where we are when we are sleeping. And so one of the beautiful parts of being human is that we also have the sympathetic nervous system wing that flips on when we need it. We can be, I often use the visualization of stepping off the curb with your cup of decaf coffee from the coffee shop, and a car is zooming around the corner. You automatically jump back, maybe spilling the coffee. It was also automatic and quick, and your heart is racing. You moved very quickly, and the car zooms away. You got the green light to go, you're across the streets safely, and then you still can feel your heart pounding, and your muscles might be tense, you may have walked across the street pretty quickly, but then you notice, okay, I'm safe. All of that that was happening so quickly so your sympathetic nervous system flipped on keeping you safe, giving you the opportunity to be able to move quickly, to react in an amazing split second and that's exactly what that nervous system is there for. That sympathetic nervous system is there to get you to safety. Let's leave it at that. It's there to do all the physical and mental things it needs to do to get you to safety.
The problem arises when we are in that state, much of our brain, other parts of our brain, our human brain, these frontal lobes that are doing all of the executive functioning and thinking and planning is all kind of taking a back seat to when the sympathetic nervous system is on. Because all the energy is going to survival. So you get across the street, let's go back to crossing the street with our decaf coffee and we get across the street and we're safe and we realize it and we can still feel the heart pounding and maybe sweating and we're now don't need to be moving so quickly. We start to calm down. It's about 90 seconds. Once we register that we are safe and secure our hormones that ignite the body to make all those changes so that you can act so quickly and be safe all starts to settle back down again, and you naturally flow right back into your parasympathetic nervous system.
So that's what it is. The parasympathetic nervous system is where we live. It's where we spend most of our time when we are not caught in a cycle of fear, anxiety, fear or stress and fear, right? And the hormones of stressful life keep triggering the sympathetic nervous system and the body is stuck in fight or flight over and over again. That's not where we're meant to live. And so we want to focus today on the place we want to spend more time, which is our parasympathetic nervous system.
Why do we need to practice igniting it? Because it's very easy in this world to get caught up in living in the stress cycle, right? Living in the sympathetic nervous system, only being frightened, only feeling your heart pounding, clenching down off your, your muscles scurrying from one place to the other quickly. Everything being an emergency or urgent. And the reason we need to practice moving into our parasympathetic nervous system is because of the culture we live in. It isn't normal or natural to be on like that 24 seven. Thank goodness that we rest and go back into our parasympathetic nervous system when we are sleeping because at least we get the break there.
Now let's get on to a number of ways that you can ignite your rest and digest wing of your nervous system. I have a list of these that I talk about with clients when I get to know you better as an individual, I can see where you may be heading and what might really help you to ignite this rest and digest part of your nervous system. You know some people have, more things going on in one direction and some in another, but we can all take some time out for laughter. I'm going to read you some of this list and see if you can jot some of these down four things that you can try because you're going to be surprised what it is that can actually move you into your parasympathetic nervous system. Move you into a little more peace and calm. And the more time we spend there, the easier it is to get there. So don't be fighting with the stress. Don't be struggling with your fight, flight or freeze response to life. It's just your mind and body trying to get you safe. If you are thinking scary thoughts, your mind and body are going to react in a way trying to get you to safety. So if we can leave that all aside for a little while and focus and the parasympathetic nervous system, let's see if we can't have a bit more fun.
Laughter is the first one. Laughter. You know, Norman cousins, healed himself but with laughter. I forget what comedy movies he was watching back in the day, and he used this to keep himself healthy, to keep himself in his parasympathetic nervous system so that his body could do the healing. Laughter is so important, and we can watch so many things, so much easier these days. We can even listen to funny podcasts. So you can watch comic movies. You can watch reruns of sitcoms if that's your thing. You can read funny books, you can find some things in your daily life to laugh about. I'm a big one.
I like to laugh, and I love finding humor in the day in places where it may not have been coming up naturally. Just kind of making even a little fun at myself just to keep the mood lighter and let things go more to that side rather than trying to have to fight everything. The next one on the list is intimacy. You know, this can be very calming to the nervous system and intimacy is being in that closeness with another being and it can be a person. It can be a pet, and it can also be in the spiritual realm, meaning that you have an intimacy with your spiritual side of yourself and being able to relate that feeling, that deep, heartfelt connection. And getting back to pets. Just patting your pet is calming and people know this. This is why so many people have dogs with them or even cats now too as their therapy pets and being able to have them close with them and being able just to pet a pet doesn't even have to be yours. It can be the neighbor dog that's come over to visit and just to be able to hug and love that little pat up. Petting a dog or a kitty or whatever the pet is, is really relaxing. It really is igniting your parasympathetic nervous system.
The next one is gratitude, and we talk about gratitude here a lot, but I would not want to leave it out because it really does move us into feeling that we are calm and peaceful when we are grateful.
Don't leave this out of your life. It is essential. The next one is generosity. Another one that can be easy to incorporate in our lives on a regular basis by just sharing, by just being generous, by being kind, by opening a door, generous with our time, generous with our caring, generous with our money, generous with our service, whatever it is that we can share with another.
The next one is , and we can all do it whether you do it in the shower or in the car when you're alone is singing, so we can all do this. This changes us on many levels, but it does ignite the parasympathetic nervous system. It also improves our breathing so that we are breathing more deeply and we are not stuck in our off breathing pattern which we can get stuck in the top third of our lungs when we are stressed and scared, and so we can sing, and we can flip all that around. I hope you'll give that one a try. I know we can all do that. The next is repetitive motion activities so this can be everything from walking. Its repetitive motion to knitting, crocheting, anything like that where you are doing the same thing. It becomes very repetitive. It goes into a flow state. Oh, it's terrific. There's no reason that you can't do something that has repetitive motion and pick it up as your new hobby. Inspirational reading will also flip us over into our parasympathetic nervous system. It will help to cultivate our way back to that peace and calm again. Now, this doesn't mean you can be in the middle of a panic attack and read an inspirational piece and be fine. We want to keep in mind that this is always pointing us back to peace and calm. Now it's going to take time to incorporate some of these. It's going to take some, some of us are going to need to write this down, right? How I want to remember today to have some laughter. I want to remember today to do some inspirational reading.
Don't stop doing these things because you didn't get immediate results. We have to back out of that instant gratification that will keep us stuck. That will keep us down the wormhole. We have to let that go. Do these things for the goodness that they bring in and of themselves and let the rest of it be gravy. Let it just be the icing on the cake. Please don't stop because you haven't received the gift of it. Immediately. Prayer and meditation are next on the list, and we talk a lot about those here. Being quiet in nature is on this list. Being able to, just this morning I sat on my [16:31 inaudible]. It was actually quite still this morning.
We didn't have any Trade winds. It was; still, the Sun was at a beautiful angle, was early in the morning and it was peaceful. It was calm and just looking at the different shades of green and the blue sky and the whiteness of the clouds. Just looking at it being quiet out there with nature and we all have a chance to be with nature. You can look at the sky, please just use these little moments as times for you to ignite that parasympathetic nervous system, the body scan. Don't forget to use the body scan. This one will take a little bit more time, and this one is separate from just walking through your daily life and appreciating or sharing, but you can get the body scan by going to our website and clicking on the body scan tab, and you'll get the 10-minute body scan, meditation audio. I won't talk more about it here, but I hope that you'll give it a try.
It's only 10 minutes, and it can really begin to settle the mind and body down enough to be able to ignite the peace and calm again.
Sleep, I don't want to ignore our sleep, and thank goodness we go there because it does get us into our parasympathetic nervous system. So that's why often when you lay down to take a nap, you feel different when you wake up, even if it's only a 10 or 20-minute nap, it's like boom, things have shifted. Give it a try. Let your nervous system rest. Compassion for yourself and for others. Again, we talk a lot about that here at different times. Light therapy can be helpful, especially if you are prone to seasonal affective disorder. And finally journaling joy. And so there are lots of different ways to journal, but one of the things you can do is to have a joy journal. You can write down the joys that you can think of, the blessings in your day, the things that make you smile, right? So start putting them down in a journal. You won't regret it.
We're all different, and each of us will have our favorite` ways to enter our parasympathetic nervous system. But the point here is to make the time and the space to do it. It's not frivolous. This is true healing. I hope this has been helpful to you. I hope you will be able to take some of these things. Find a couple that will work for you, and make sure that you add them into your day almost as little vitamins.
"For me, singing sad songs often has a way of healing a situation. It gets the hurt out in the open, into the light, out of the darkness."