We hear how we are under a greater variety and frequency of stressors than generations before us.
I think about that, and then I think about people who have sensory issues, with their additional stress. Even thinking about it feels exhausting. And exhaustion makes it more difficult to handle future stress.
A vicious cycle
Our bodies are designed for survival. We don’t have to think about many of the things that happens within our bodies. One system that takes care of us is our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). It prepares us when we are under attack (fight or flight - Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS)) and supports our non-stressful periods when we need to restore and reset (rest and digest - Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS)).
The two systems of the ANS work as a tag team – only one can function at a time. If we feel under constant threat or stress, the SNS is engaged and our body doesn’t have the ability to repair and rejuvenate.
I think you know where this is heading:
What can we do to engage the Parasympathetic Nervous System so we can revive and revitalize and be better able to handle stress?
This week: a few hints on engaging the PNS.
Next week: What happens if our SNS runs the show most of the time (clue: smiles and chuckles are not on the playbill). And of course more hints.
Stress is an important dragon to slay - or at least tame - in your life.
Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath. Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down.
1. Slow, deep diaphragmatic breathing
I’m sure you know about deep breathing. It is something almost all of us know about and few of us do (very guilty here. I seldom/never do deep breathing even though I know I would feel better).
It is one of the best ways to engage the PNS.
Here is a short PDF of the techniques and benefits.
Focus, re-focus or mindfulness
We often get into a spiral, usually downward, when in stress. Our focus is on what could happen and the various unwanted possibilities.
To break that cycle, focus on something neutral, like the physical sensation of pushing your toes into the floor (which toe, foot and leg muscles are used? Can the individual toes be moved? Which muscles can be relaxed?).
Or, what happens to the chest, stomach, body or mind when taking 5 deep breaths? Is there any difference between the first and fifth breath?
3. Muscle Relaxation
Start at the tips of your toes or the top of your head and gradually tense the entire body, body part by body part. Then relax the entire body, in reverse order or the same order, one body part at a time. There are a variety of audios available online to walk you through the process.
Or, if you know where you store your stress, go straight to that area and focus on relaxing that one area.
In a way, meditation is a combination of the first three (focus, muscle relaxation and breathing) but some people have broadened the definition to mean anything that relaxes.
I’ve heard walking described as ‘moving meditation’ and things like knitting or colouring as meditative acts.
The problem with doing a ‘meditation lite’ is we can be doing the activity and still think stressful thoughts. We need to move out of the normal thought pattern and choose to refocus, breathe deep and relax while doing the activity.
Slow controlled movements
Thai Chi and some types of yoga combine mindfulness, breathing, stretching contracted muscles, and relaxed movement. The ‘relaxed movement’ is important here.Muscles engage differently when relaxed.
If those don’t grab you, you might want to try Essentrics which follow the relaxed movement guideline. There are a few sample videos online to try.
Hugs and “hugs”
Widespread external pressure is thought to engage the PNS (mentioned by a doctor-in-trainingbut no citation given) as would be felt with hugs, apressure vest or a weighted blanket (travel size, 10 lb full size, 15 or 20 lb full size).
While the pressure vest and weighted blanket might not give the hug-love drug, oxytocin, like a hug would, they still offer support to the PNS and can be viewed as a pseudo hug.
Have a PNS-filled week.
Providing calmness & comfort, learning & laughter,
P.S. Contest Info
1. Weighted Lap Pad Contest
The winner had been chosen but not contacted. Reason for the non-contact is below.
2. Share a bit about InnovAID with us Contest
In my tech brilliance, I tried to combine mailing lists but didn't realize that I did not complete the merger.
Everyone on both lists heard about the Weighted Lap Pad contest but not everyone heard about the second contest (it was between the two contests I thought I had combined both lists). I was so caught up trying to figure out if and what I did and didn't do, I forgot to contact the winner of the Weighted Lap Pad Contest.
Thanks to those who have contacted us already and shared some wonderful comments. Some of them made me laugh. Your information has been kept and of course will be included in the draw.
Just in case this is the first you are hearing about this contest, below is a repeat of the contest rules and why we are having it.
I want to reward people who have either purchased from us or have a relationship with us through other means, like this newsletter or meeting us at a conference. For this contest, only those who know who we are can enter.
How will I know if you know us or are searching the net to win a contest?
Easy! You need to say something specific about InnovAID – it could be something that you've learned through the newsletter, a purchase you’ve made or an interaction you have had with us.
It could be one sentence or one paragraph.
It could be from something long ago or something recent.
It could be something serious or something funny.
It could be how we treated you or your experience with using one of our products.
Your first entry will get you a card and a scratch-n-sniff sticker package sent to your door as well an entry to our grand prize - a $50 gift certificate.
If you want to enter the grand prize more than once, please share lots of your InnovAID experiences with us. You can either number them in a single entry or send several entries. You can post on our website page that displays this newsletter (leave at least your first name and the initial of your surname so we can 'hunt' you down), a comment on Facebook (the preferred method since I am still learning Facebook and this encourages me to check it frequently) or by sending an email.
The contest is over at midnight on Tuesday, March 28th MDT.
To be transparent: I’m looking for a shortcut to gather client quotes for our new website. No worries on your wording. I’ll ask someone make sure that whatever you write is clear and concise, profound (or not) and grammatically correct. (My mom used to cringe at my spelling and grammar. It came so naturally to her and has always been a struggle for me. This contest is not meant to be a struggle so write away and let someone else worry about the details). You will be contacted if any revisions are made.
To clarify: participating in the contest gives us the right to use your entries for marketing purposes, such as our website.Our share your InnovAID experience(s) (described above) starts now and ends at midnight, Monday, March 20th.
To summarize, there are 3 ways to enter:
-Write in the comment section below (leave at least your first name and the initial of your surname so we can connect with you)-Commenting on Facebook, or by
-Sending an email.