You find yourself face to face with a lion. Your brain and body recognise this as a survival situation and immediately hit the survival mode button. The blood rushes to your arms and legs. The blood in your brain floods to the survival areas such as the amygdala and hypothalamus. Your frontal lobe becomes foggy as it loses the blood it needs to focus, be logical and rational. Your heart starts to race and your lung action increases as you now enter fight/flight mode. Do you fight the lion or run? Whichever option you choose, your brain and body is prepared. After you survive the event, you go home to your cave and relax with your cave people. Or not.
The story is the same for modern day living. We’ve just replaced ‘lion’ with the stressful situations we face in daily life – conflict with colleagues, meeting deadlines, traffic, chasing children, or learning new skills. The only difference being modern day ‘stress heads’ once home, don’t wind down. You might not think that you are a stressed person but ask yourself – what do you do for yourself at the end of the day to tell your mind and body that all is well, you are safe, it’s time to relax and the day is done?
As days pass and we fail to switch off our survival mode, our body becomes tired from releasing stress hormones to help us respond in fight or flight times. Soon enough, little things become difficult, our mind function declines and we find ourselves tired. Our adrenal glands, responsible for releasing stress hormones that help us to manage stress, have run out of steam; they become locked on. So when you’re late for that meeting or to pick up the kids, you’re raging at other drivers and taking the long way around because you’re not thinking clearly. What are you doing? You’re never like this! Not until you stopped listening to your body and taking care to balance the high stress times with relaxation and recovery. Now when you try to relax, you can’t.
We need to turn off our adrenal glands at the end of each day. It sounds so simple, but can be difficult for some of us. Take small steps and find what works for you; ways for your mind, body and soul to rest. Start with a couple of minutes, and work up to a suitable amount. Here are some suggestions of ways in which you can calm down at the end of the day:
- slow and steady breathing
- visualisations or simple meditations
- stretching – fantastic for releasing blockages in meridians and chakras
- yoga – one of the more gentle styles
- having a soak in a bath
- gentle walking or swimming
- gratitude journal – record a couple of points from the day that you are grateful for, this helps reflect on the positive aspects of your day and to draw this energy to you further
- debrief with your partner or friend from the day to let go and move on
- massage – give yourself a foot rub
The benefits of calming down at the end of the day are many: calming your mind and negative thought patterns; letting go of events from the day that may not have been enjoyable; understanding and releasing emotions, boosting your immune system, regulating your menstrual cycle, balancing your metabolism, and most of all – enjoying life!
Go on, start by trying even a couple of minutes tonight.
And remember, if you have children – don’t forget to teach them about relaxation!
Articles and content by Kate Pamphilon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.