Why we play a head game with our own thoughts
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, 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 when you are experiencing distress signals?
Is this scenario all in your mind? Or is it your body giving you a heads up that you need rest? How do you discern?
There are many moments throughout 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 you have 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. Then you start 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. Cortisol is flaring up and can cause our body to store belly fat.
- 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 process.
All of these changes happen so quickly that we 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 them.
Some tips for when your brain is firing up this stress:
- Right as you were driving home you take 5 deep breaths to stop the emotional turmoil of fight or flight
- You remember that you are safe at this moment.
- The question to ask is: What does my body need at this moment? Be completely honest with yourself.
- Really check-in: Does your body need a break from physical stress? Do you want to be more creative than active? Do you need a nap?
- Allow the main emotion to be felt for about 90 seconds. This will support the hormones to relax.
- Drink a sip of water, tea, or veggie juice. Give your body nutrition to support the stress that the hormones may have caused.
Now, you feel like a hero that you will nourish yourself and your loved ones. Instantly, you are feeling a sense of relief, hope, and excitement to get a quick workout in and run that last errand of the evening.
We can support our hormones, and shift our thoughts and chemistry by getting to know our hypothalamus, pituitary and pineal glands.
Join me tomorrow as we explore this MORE!
I am hosting a complimentary webinar: How Hyped is Your Hypothalamus?
We meet on Wednesday, September 28th @ 5 pm PST, 8 pm EST.
I will record and send out the replay!
Sign up here and I will send you the details!
Thank you for your continuous support.
with abundant nourishment,
Heather Fleming, C.C.N. Conscious. Compassion. Nutrition.
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