One of the biggest lies some of us have been told is that being ‘run off your feet’ means you’re somehow on an incline, professionally, personally and physically. Sometimes it’s important to take the slow road in some areas of life, because to give stress it’s marching orders by simply slowing things down and shifting your mind-set boosts productivity, your health – and as a result, more fulfilment in your life!
So how do we get there?
Get in touch with your primal instincts
Integrating what we know about ourselves as having been primal beings living in the wild. Adapting to this tech infused, ‘non-stop’ modern society is one of the best places to start when it comes to decreasing stress levels.
‘We have incredibly ancient mechanisms truly with our best interests at heart, governing so much of our preferences.’ Says Libby Weaver, internationally acclaimed nutritionist and biochemist. ‘Adrenaline communicates to the body that we’re very much in danger, when it’s a response to a physical stress, you’re primed to respond to that, and you utilise all the biochemical changes that adrenaline offers you. What happens today, is that our stress is psychological, it can come from our perception of pressure.’
So, in short, a busy day for in the modern day doesn’t involve fighting off a Sabre-toothed tiger, or avoiding spears being thrown at you from an opposing tribe. Instead, our endless to do lists, emails, family, meetings and deadlines mean we unknowingly put our bodies into fight or flight mode a lot of the time. Our adrenaline levels are increasing throughout the day but we’re often pretty sedentary. Through the development of the part of the brain called the Neocortex (the part of the brain where we rationalise and think), we’re giving our bodies the message that they need to go into fight or flight mode without actually needing to utilise the biochemical changes happening within. But we still feel the effects of it, and it’s translated as stress.
Shift your perspective
Our minds are super powerful tools when it comes working with our own primal instincts and the often mislead messages sent from our Neocortex to the more primitive part of the brain. We all have free will, and yes life does come with a good side portion of real pressure, but more often than not a busy day is chosen by an individual. Especially thanks to being considered successful being falsely sold to us as some kind of ‘badge of honour’.
‘If we could shift the perception to save pressure for when there really is pressure, and to see a day filled with meetings as a rich, fulfilling, opportunity filled life where you have the chance to connect with others and make a difference,’ continues Libby, ‘if you can shift the perspective to that its game changing on your nervous system, on your health and therefore on your enjoyment of life.’
Meaning that in understanding why we feel the need to be ‘on the incline’ all of the time and the primal reasons behind it, we can almost trick our brains into better receiving these modern day pressures!
Ease off the Caffeine
Caffeine can be a controversial subject, but when it comes to taking stress levels down, it’s important to consider how your body might be responding to your personal intake. Caffeine pumps adrenaline into the body meaning your adrenals are working in a way they wouldn’t work naturally. It puts us on high alert, which may seem beneficial when life throws so many demands, curve balls and hard-hitting news our way, but this level of stress sends a message to the body to hold off on ‘non-essential’ bodily functions like digestion, when really, in times such as now, we need to send a message to our bodies they are safe to rest and repair.
Prioritise Diaphragmatic breathing
Most adults subconsciously breathe high into their chests, they use secondary respiratory muscles that are up near their collar bones and closer to the thinking mind. When we look at a baby breathe, they know to breathe in through their nostrils, their chests and deep into their bellies. This is called diaphragmatic breathing or deep belly breathing. The diaphragm is shaped like a balloon and we can consciously breathe there and feel the rise and fall of the lower belly. The phrenic nerve runs down the sides of the diaphragm and when you breathe in this way, the phrenic nerve activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest state. ‘When we breathe diaphragmatically it communicates to every cell in our body via our nervous system that we’re ‘safe’ adds Libby ‘From that place I believe health is incredibly optimal.’
Rest before you sleep
Ever wake up and feel like you could just fall straight back to sleep again, with little to no energy to begin your day? Sound familiar? When adrenaline is dominantly circulating, the body doesn’t want to sleep restoratively because its concern is that if you were under threat, you wouldn’t be able to wake up quickly and defend yourself. ‘We live in a world that’s forgotten what rest is.’ Says sleep and dream specialist Rubin Naaman. ‘Going to the movies or going on a hike is recreation, not rest. Reading a book isn’t rest. We’re literally restless.’ As a result, our sleep isn’t restorative, we’re subconsciously still on alert.
Consider the fabrics on your body.
Let’s face it, your body is at its happiest when it’s in its birthday suit, and your primal instincts will love that too! But unless you want to get arrested, modern society suggests we wear clothes. But you guessed it, the fabrics we wear have a huge impact on our well being too. Our skin is our largest organ and the only one we can touch, a lot of man-made fibres don’t allow the skin to breathe and can cause irritation, trapping moisture and even letting toxins enter the blood stream. When kicking back and actually allowing the body and mind to rest, we might be biased but BAM’s smooth, soft, natural fabrics are as good to your skin as they are to the planet.