The Art of Slowing Down
I’m so busy! I’m so stressed out! These two catchphrases seem to be our mantra for life these days. And we are busy and we are stressed but that’s not necessarily such a good thing all of the time.
Many of the health issues that we see here at Mura are contributed to by our hectic and stressful lives and this needs to be addressed if we truly want to restore our health.
When our bodies feel stress there are some physiological changes that take place. These changes occur so we can survive the cause of the stress and live to tell the tale. Now that “stress” may be a tiger trying to eat us (not likely in Canberra) or a deadline for our boss (incredibly likely!) If it’s a tiger then the stress hormones our body releases to help us run faster will be rather helpful. If the stress hormones only get us worked up about the deadline and leave us having to deal with the spent up energy they are not so helpful.
We may face several stress hormone inducing situations over the course of a day. Running late to pick the kids up from school, peak hour traffic and frantic days at work all initiate our stress responses and can be detrimental to our health.
When we are in stress response mode our body takes its attention away from growth and repair functions (important for keeping our immune systems healthy). So we need to find ways that we can counteract the impact this has on our bodies.
There are lots we can do to help manage stress in our lives. Exercise is an unpopular although very effective one! Exercise switches our minds off and can help use up all of the adrenalin we have produced in response to stress. Exercise also releases endorphins or the “feel good” hormones. A good way to fit exercise in to your week is to put it in the diary. Just a half hour walk or a trip to the local park with the kids and a soccer ball each day will also help.
Meditation and yoga are other popular and effective ways of switching off our busy minds and allowing our bodies to calm down. Booking into a regular class is a great way to ensure you take the time to do this at least once a week.
We can also take small moments throughout our day to consciously relax. Even taking a few minutes on a regular basis can have an important impact on our health. When you stop to have a cup of something (we recommend herbal of course!) sit with your hands wrapped around your cup for a few minutes and just enjoy. Don’t read any emails or make phone calls just be in the moment. Look out the window or take a few deep breaths. This conscious slowing down can be applied in many situations.
When I am sitting at traffic lights I like to practise my breathing. Take a deep breath in, hold for the count of 4 and then breathe out slowly. Taking a walk outside at lunch time is another great way of slowing down. Even if you just go around the block you are switching your mind off and giving it that much needed break.
Find ways that you can slow down in your day. Not only are you positively impacting your health but it may replace your tension headaches with a smile!
By Fiona Joiner