Your body is influenced by your mind, and your mind is influenced by the chemical and hormonal processes in your body, and your emotions are influenced by the way you care for your body and overall health. That’s the power of connection. So what happens when our body and/or mind is stressed? How does that impact our physical and mental health? Amanda Kriebel explores the science behind the central nervous system and the potential negative impact stress can have on your body.
The residue of the humidity is dense. I feel summer twilight approaching. The undetectable smoke from the grill is off in the distance. But I envision my Dad tending the flames with serious attention like planning his next chess move. My sister and I with our neighborhood cohorts are romping in the forest, in the suburbia landscape of Philadelphia. Touring the deep secrets of the woods. We are stars in our unscripted movie. With unedited scenes. In unmonitored territory. On location. Before the existence of Wifi. Leading us to the rope swing that crosses the water. Don’t look down. I repeat to myself. Again. And again. I am petrified of heights. I hold tightly to the rope with trust while letting go of fear simultaneously. I am airborne. Weightless and free. In nature’s playground. Where imagination soars. And pure fun sparkles.
I hear a familiar clanging in the distance. Interrupting our act. It’s faint. It’s the sound of my Mom calling us home. Not with a phone. Not with a text. It was a metal triangle cowbell as big as the kitchen sink. Ringing. To round us up. Our dinner must be ready. We sigh. Our scene for the day has abruptly concluded. We start racing home, through winding paths, mud caked on our shoes, pollen weaved in our hair. Joy in our smiles. Delight in our hearts. I can smell the smoke, and practically taste BBQ sauce. We arrive home. ‘Til the next twilight adventure.
Ahhh. A glimpse into a sweet childhood memory. When technology wasn’t our only source of connection. Maybe you have a similar recollection? When your toys were made in nature. Trust me, I love technology and my digital devices. Maybe I love them too much! You could call me a hypocrite right now because I’m currently writing from my beloved computer. And you are probably reading this from your cherished device! So yeah, we justify our necessary attachment to our devices, but it is just as necessary to disconnect from them. To be in pretend airplane mode even when you aren’t actually in flight.
To be out of bounds.
There is a sense of sweet freedom. Quiet reprieve. To be in the moment. With full reception. Connected to your internal network and to reconnect with your interior signal.
Is there a limit to what we can tolerate as humans when we are blasted with the demands of modern life? And most of the time our devices are the source. We are literally getting on our own nerves! And our delicate nervous systems are exhausted.
the nervous system
Our nervous system can be injured like fractures to a bone. It’s delicate. With excess stress accumulating, it may breakdown. And it’s sneaky. Just like you can’t keep walking on a broken femur, your nervous system requires time to heal, often longer than a bone. It is fragile, yet strong and resilient. But we are so absorbed with the demands of contemporary life we may not even notice it.
the technology of the nervous system
The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord, which receives information from and sends information to the → peripheral nervous system (all the other nerves). The nerves total over 46 miles of an electrical highway of impulses throughout the adult body at an average of 170 mph. The human body has about 95–100 billion neurons or nerve cells, and the human brain holds 85 billion of these cells. This is not science fiction folks. This is the wonder that makes us miraculous human beings.
The Peripheral Nervous System is made up of other systems; in basic terms these systems fall into two categories – a voluntary nervous system, which oversees all of the movement you do intentionally. This movement is controlled by your motor neurons and includes everything from using a knife to training your body. Your involuntary nervous system oversees processes that occur without you having to think much about them: sweating, digesting, peeing, and sexual arousal.
Then there’s your sympathetic system. This is where stress accumulates and is activated during threatening situations. (Think flight or fight.) It is absolutely necessary at times, BUT in this contemporary world when we spin here on repeat, we are in the danger zone, and it may lead us to physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. When we are chronically stuck here, it can be very harmful. And could lead to a fractured nervous system. The result is haunting and detrimental, and may lead to anxiety, or panic attacks. Did you know 80% of doctor visits are related to stress?!
why is this important?
There are a myriad of negative health issues that result from your sympathetic system perpetually in overdrive. To avoid this, you must reduce your stress level.
the nervous system prescription: you must nourish it
Nourish your nervous system by slowing down. Disconnect from the “noise” in your life. Noise as in sound, but also noise as in temperature; like too much heat, or super bright light, or crowded places, congested highways, or a barrage of devices and in general overstimulating environments. This kind of noise translates into accruing stress in our bodies.
to reduce stress: Activate Your Parasympathetic System
Switch into airplane mode. For an hour, or do a digital detox for the whole day. Reduce “noise” in all forms. Find silence. With no interruptions. Free from internet, TV or other media or even big crowds. One of my favorite things about surfing is I am off the grid for an hour or two. My conversation is with the ocean, fellow surfers, or the dolphins. I love to gaze at the horizon, while the sunbeams reflect off the surface of the sea. I feel like I’m in a floating oasis.
Rest. Schedule time to Do. Nothing. Watch the leaves flutter in the trees. Lie on the beach. Gaze at the clouds. Cozy up on your couch. Have nothing on your agenda (and feel guilt-free about it).
Check-in with a nutritionist. Make sure your supplements are on track. Reduce triggers like caffeine and sugar. Eat foods that support a healthy gut, are plant-based, clean, and seasonal.
Create a “safe” place that is nurturing. It could be your bathtub, your yoga mat, meditation pillow, hammock, a special corner in your home that you can retreat to for solace and solitude.
Prioritize your “To Do” list. Rearrange it and pick the top five must do’s and stick with those. Better yet delegate tasks to others. And even better add a massage to that list, a yoga class, or meditation.
Phone a trusted friend. Share your concerns. Ask and receive support from them or reach out to a medical professional if necessary.
Make a kit that holds your favorites, because I love kits! Add things like; a crystal or stone; Blue Calcite and Celestite which are super calming, aromatherapy oils; Lavender, Bergamot, Vetiver or Rose, your journal, a favorite book, and something snuggly like a blanket or soft sweatshirt.
Appreciation. At the beginning or ending of your day, give gratitude for all the things that are in your favor, for all the things that are going right. You are being taken care of. You are loved.
The ocean is calling. ‘Til next time…
Amanda | @amanda.kriebel
Explore more ways to lessen your stress levels: Breathing Exercises to Reduce Anxiety, How to Navigate the Light and Dark of Your Health, and Digital Addiction: Put the Breaks on Your Constant Desire to Stay Plugged In.
Affectionately described by many as an innovative holistic Doctor of Physical Therapy, Health Stylist and Yoga Teacher, AMANDA KRIEBEL treats patients with creative movement philosophies, specific manual techniques and breathwork to optimize your goals. This powerful collaboration of therapeutic tools plus her positive and caring nature inspires access to the tenderness and vulnerability that injuries reveal. Amanda offers a fresh approach to defining what health means to you in order to investigate where true healing lives. She helps you navigate your therapeutic journey to balance the elements of being human. Learn more about Amanda and checkout her latest blogs: www.awarenesspt.com and on Instagram.