We are living in the wild wild west of a digital age. (Oh and the explosion of cross fit.)
Cafes are populated with non-engaged humans on devices.
We are stimulated enough without the millennial hipster elitist-not-elitist cuppa $7 coffee. The fix very well could be the pretentious digital ritual, not caffeine.
In an age where you can get the perfect bean, brewed with exacting measurements and high tech procedures. There are still variables that even young geniuses can not control.
Will the crops be overwhelmed with bugs and destroy your carefully planned organic crop? It’s possible and likely to happen. My bet is with mother nature and her wrath of whether or mold.
Can you plan for all the variables and conditions of life? Are you really in control?
Can you just push through it if you blow out your back because your ego decided on 50 more lbs to deadlift today? Yeah, no, you’re toast. In bed but a bug or immobilized by pain.
Your body said, “Fuck You!…Now you have to listen”. We will get to how shortly.
What about being conditioned to control our personal environment? Thinking it will create a sense of safety.
Or we have the socialized attitude of fixing what’s wrong – “I just gotta get this shit done…then I can relax.” Has your body ever just said, “screw you?” As in crashed because you wouldn’t take time off? Now you have to take time off.
What if it’s YOU?
As in the physical flesh and blood vehicle carrying that high tech brain around..
Yup, you get a virus or crash of exhaustion once you finally take that vacation. So much for pleasure.
Can you plan for it? Are you able to control (or better yet communicate with) your nervous system when it starts falling apart from neglect? Your autonomic nervous system is basically your operating system.
Wait, nervous system…? Huh? Right, you can’t “fix” what you have no awareness of, especially because it’s automatic. Besides nothing is broken.
You are overwhelmed.
When you experience a bug do you sleep it off? Will you take time to meditate? or slow down? More than likely not. Just saying…it’s an observation from seeing dozens of smart and creative people, like you, every week for the past 2 decades.
Most people have the attitude of being able to “push through” because they are “tough” and they get shit done.
After all, if you live in WLA you probably run a cyber company that is about to change the world. You absolutely can’t afford to take time off to smell hippie-dippie roses.
Ok, maybe you just got laid off from a startup and need to hustle to find another cutting edge company to stay relevant in the marketplace. Understood. All systems go.
But grabbing all the tinctures and wellness products in Whole Foods won’t help your nervous system from its inevitable crash if you ignore the warning signs.
The body breaks down when overwhelmed. This is the disease forming process.
First, you may become immobilized with strep or the flu and simply “crash” for no reason. Do you know anyone this has happened to?
The – crash – I’m not talking about the stock market either.
I’m talking about your body. Yes, this is the third time I’ve mentioned it here. It takes about that many times for most people to realize they have a body. (Not Joking, God, I wish I was!).
Your body isn’t just carrying your head around. Yup, your good ol’ fashioned body, as in the rest of you. It breaks down given enough toxic stress.
How did you get to this point you wonder?
“Neglect my body? The thought doesn’t register…”Don’t understand” most people think, initially. The macho program is running. Get it done, the revised edition.
You are probably thinking, “But Amy, give me a break, I eat organic food. No sugar or junk. I get my coffee from the hipster peeps that know what they’re doing to a T, and I work out..hard, it’s a great release”… “Oh and I feels so good afterward”. Yet, here you are overwhelmed, searching for an answer.
There’s no quick fix. I don’t have a red or blue pill for you.
The Good News…
…your body is brilliant and so is your mind. Understanding the language of how they communicate is what you will start to explore here.
You’re not a machine “doing” all the right things is meaningless if you don’t pause and listen to the signals of your body. It’s trying to reach that head of yours to say, “I’m overwhelmed!”
Your head persists and you ask, “What do you mean you wacky woman? Listen to my body, wha-?? I don’t feel anything!”. exasperated the narrative continues…“Just freeeking tell me, what to DO!
Ok fine, I’ll humor you. (because if I say there’s nothing to “do” you might just throw your computer at me!)
What a great question, thank you for asking!
Here are some signs telling you that your nervous system is overwhelmed:
Oh, no doubt you figured it out… YOU are your nervous system 🙂
- Shallow breathing
- Sleepless nights
- Panic attacks
- Easily startled – you jump at the slightest disturbance
- Excessively sweating or cold
- Poor digestion – constipation or diarrhea (IBS)
- Itchy skin/eczema or dermatitis
- Irritability – Anger (easy to snap)
- Low Immunity – you’re getting sick frequently
- Road rage
Your reptilian brain may be in hypervigilant which is why you can’t consciously control, fix, do anything (with logic) to change these symptoms. Have you ever tried to tell yourself to stop hyperventilating everything is ok…? I know, it didn’t work…
You have probably felt out of control for some time. Perhaps even adapted to functioning at this new state of discomfort. But it is exhausting. Eventually, your body will give up, break and health problems creep in. Toxic stress is damaging.
Maybe you’re still reading this because it’s no longer tolerable and attempting to function in this disorganized state of overwhelm is not an option anymore. Great self-awareness, it leads to understanding and self-compassion. So congratulations!
Exploring possible solutions:
Notice: I used the word explore as a reminder it’s not a quick fix, mostly because you’re not broken!
What emotions are surfacing?
Are you willing to get quiet and listen? Hear the wisdom of your internal physician because s/he has the answer inside.
It may not be what you think, it quite possibly may be unexpected and revealing.
Are you willing to sit with what emerges? Because it is already present, ignored or stuffed down so deep it’s cut off your life energy.
Your chest or belly might be tight from it pressing down. If you’re lethargic or depressed this is also a signal.
Do you internalize your anger?
You’re not alone most people stuff it way down to be polite. We’re all conditioned to be “nice” we are civilized after all. So we suffer and become mad at ourselves or worse start hating ourselves. It’s a vicious cycle to please others. There is no reward.
What is your relationship to anger?
How do you handle anger when it arises?
Drop down into the section below your head (you got it…your body) and feel if there’s anything going on. Any sensation? Do you notice anything at all about your body? Tension? Contracted or tight belly or chest? An expansion, open areas?
Notice if you’re aware of anything at all inside…
Do you feel an emotion arise? (sad, angry, disgust, fear, grief, happiness) Perhaps you feel it as a tightness in your chest or pressure pushing down on you as water wells behind the eyes…
You’re starting to listen.
Here’s something to DO:
In the spirit of explorations and listening. (not fixing)
Write it down!
Journaling is a great way to self-awarenesses.
It can be short, bullet points. The things you notice that are different, better.
Tune into your body-mind. Listen and connect with conscious awareness via this physical self-inquiry. What exactly do you notice, maybe it is not so specific because this is new to you. It’s ok.
If you don’t notice anything at all keep trying to sense yourself from the inside.
Try squeezing your joints and notice if you can feel the pressure of your own touch. That’s a sensation!
Be gentle with yourself.
Strong emotions or sensations become more tolerable when you slowly tune into yourself and feel what is already present.
It’s important to note that there’s nothing wrong with you and there’s nothing to “fix”. Sometimes we feel strong emotions leaving us fearful and out of control. It’s a scary thing, it’s natural to press on and ignore them… to let the body bare the burden.
But there is a breaking point, eventually.
Take control of your experience by getting to know yourself in a new way. Your nervous system and reptilian brain. Continue to learn how to track sensations as we continue these posts over time.
Thank you for trusting me in this process of Wellness Alchemy.