In our world today, there are uncertainties, worries, fears, and major challenges on a day-to-day basis. This leaves our bodies in a constant state of overwhelmed exhaustion constantly triggered by our frantic efforts to do more, to keep up, and to just maintain our sanity.
Cortisol is a hormone our body releases when it feels stressed, in danger, or unsafe from the outside world. Our adrenal glands secrete this hormone whenever the body is triggered into one of these states – which can lead to adrenal fatigue, inflammation, and a variety of other physical effects. Constant, high levels of cortisol overloads our adrenal glands which plummets our mind, body and spirit into ‘burn out’, a bone-weary fatigue.
Your Nervous System Affects Your Health
The most effective treatment for adrenal fatigue is restorative rest. With restorative rest we engage our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), our rest, repair, and digest system. This is the opposite side of our “fight, flight, freeze” sympathetic nervous system (SNS) which is engaged when we are stressed.
Both the PNS and SNS are functions of our autonomic nervous system (ANS). These systems function independently from our conscious mind. However, through mindful awareness we are able to communicate with our bodies and regulate our effects of stress. This awareness begins with our breath.
When we breathe in shallow, short inhalations and exhalations, we are communicating to our body that we are in danger, unsafe, and needing to fight back, run away, or freeze (disappear). How we breathe can create symptoms of anxiety, panic, anger, and overwhelm. This becomes a lifetime habit and trains our nervous system to react and be triggered by outside circumstances in a never-ending stress loop.
When we practice mindfulness, we learn to communicate with our body by choosing long, slow breaths that moves our diaphragm, creating a sense of safety and down regulating our stress responses. When we learn to tune-in and become aware of our posture, breathing patterns, and eventually our thoughts, we are better able to choose our stress responses rather than reacting unconsciously.
Plumas Rural Services is a Northeastern California community based, non-profit organization providing services and opportunities for the well being of local residents and families to improve quality of life and self sufficiency by promoting health, education, prevention and treatment.