You are driving home after work and you really wanted to exercise and run errands but your energy level is fading. You begin to panic and start talking yourself out of exercising, and you begin to feel hopeless and agitated. Your mood goes downhill fast and you are mad at everyone you know. Your heart rate races, you begin to control your mind to make you drive to the gym and now you are mad at your car too. How many times during the day does this emotional flare up happen to when you are experiencing distress signals?
This scenario is one of many that can either enhance your conscious lifestyle or leave you feeling deflated. There are many moments through out the day that can cause this subtle stress and over time this taxes on your mental, emotional and physical health.
Here is what is physically going on in your body on that drive home…
- The amygdala, an area of the brain that contributes to emotional processing, sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. You are too tired to go to the gym, and this brings up feelings of shame, despair and self-worth.
- The hypothalamus, or command center, communicates with the rest of the body through the nervous system so that the person has the energy to fight or flee. Fighting with the feeling of low energy usually leads to even lower energy.
- The hypothalamus activates the sympathetic nervous system by sending signals through the autonomic nerves to the adrenal glands. Uh-Oh! You are not even being chased by a tiger, it is just a mood swing.
- These adrenal glands respond by pumping the hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) into the bloodstream.
- Your heart beats faster than normal, pushing blood to the muscles, heart, and other vital organs. Pulse rate and blood pressure go up. The person undergoing these changes also starts to breathe more rapidly. Small airways in the lungs open wide. This way, the lungs can take in as much oxygen as possible with each breath. Extra oxygen is sent to the brain, increasing alertness. Sight, hearing, and other senses become sharper. You are in fight mode, and look out world.
- Epinephrine triggers the release of blood sugar (glucose) and fats from temporary storage sites in the body. These nutrients flood into the bloodstream, supplying energy to all parts of the body. Oh NO! Now, things are getting real. What happens to the glucose and fats if your organs do not utilize them? Tummy tire for sure!
- Now the brain communicates with the rest of the body through the autonomic nervous system, which controls such involuntary body functions as breathing, blood pressure, heartbeat, and the dilation or constriction of key blood vessels and small airways in the lungs called bronchioles.
- The autonomic nervous system has two components, the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.
- The sympathetic nervous system functions like a gas pedal in a car. It triggers the fight-or-flight response, providing the body with a burst of energy so that it can respond to perceived dangers. So, if you are having a mood swing and now putting your foot on the gas does this motivate you? It isn’t just about self discipline, it is about self awareness.
- The parasympathetic nervous system acts like a brake. It promotes the “rest and digest” response that calms the body down after the danger has passed. And this can leave you feeling even more tired than before you started this whole darn process.
All of these changes happen so quickly that people aren’t even aware of them. In fact, the wiring is so efficient that the amygdala and hypothalamus start this cascade even before the brain’s visual centers have had a chance to fully process what is happening.
The DANGER in the scenario of experiencing low energy driving home from work may include many deeper feelings that can trigger this distress such as:
- Feeling of failure for not wanting to work out
- Feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of life
- Lack of self care and resenting taking care of everyone else
- Always feeling not enough and behind in your life
Those are some big ones. Instead of addressing these right at that moment, take note of them when you are not stressed to address. Let’s replay how you can choose you versus another stress flare.
Right as you were driving home you take a deep breath to stop the emotional turmoil of fight or flight and you remember that you have the ingredients for a safe, supportive and nourishing meal at home waiting for you to assemble. Now, you feel like a hero that you will nourish yourself and your loved ones. Instantly, you are feeling a sense of relief, hopeful, and excited to get a quick workout in and run that last errand of the evening. What meal(s) is that for you?
Please join me as I help you create some of these safe meals. We will be meeting via Facebook Live on Wednesday, March 8th @ 5 pm PST and I will be assembling a few meals and offering you some words of wisdom to help you feel safer with your meal planning and have less of the above scenarios.
$19 for this new dynamic, interactive style for me to share with you!
Stay safe & connected,
Heather Fleming, C.C.N