Gas and Brakes
One of the things I have been hearing a lot about during our Covid times, is how different each person’s experience is. In my own circle, there are some for whom it is much needed chance to pause. Yet for others, it’s working overtime, stressful new conditions, uncertain futures and go, go, go. Gas and brakes!
That’s not the gas and brakes I want to talk about today though. I am more concerned about what is happening in our individual nervous systems when we try to over-perform or are a just plain trying to keep up when we are stressed and exhausted. Especially in times like these: More decisions than usual, upended routines, uncertainty, a steep learning curve and a loss of physical proximity based social interaction.
Nourishing the brain and the mind is one of my passions. In fact, my practice focuses on where the hormones, immune, digestive, intestinal and nervous systems meet in a tangled web. To nourish the brain, you need understand it’s place in the big system and to ensure the entire body, mind and spirit are supported. Nothing in the body or spirit, or their environment for that matter, are separate from the brain or the mind.
I was attracted to this work after my own history of brain abuse… Overworking for many years, over exercising, a childhood sweet tooth, history of childhood illness and many antibiotics, and finally a cycling accident.
I have learned a thing or two along the way. The hard won lessons of learning to live a life in flow and the performance gains that come with it, drove me to research how to deeply refuel and nourish my mind and body and just what it takes to make a healthy brain.
And it is fascinating research. I LOVE the connections in complex systems, and it lets me do the one thing I love the most; pull information from diverse studies like evolutionary biology, biochemistry, history, environmental science, genetics, nutrition science, behavior theory, spirituality, organization, planning and so much more (sorry to geek out on you there!).
Back to stress and exhaustion… Your brain and nervous system are connected to every other system in your body. Your stress response is the symphony played by 2 systems: the nervous system, and your endocrine system (hormones). They in turn, manage to recruit or impact virtually every other system in your body including digestive, respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
So many people turn to caffeine, alcohol, sugar and junk food – even our own adrenaline and dopamine through “rush” experiences to keep ourselves going (gas). One minute we excite our nervous system… rev it up with caffeine and sugar or the flashing lights of a screen. Next, out comes some sort of consumable to help with winding down (brakes).
Others, try to supplement their way to optimal, as if the brain were a vehicle and we just need to put in some nitro so it will go even faster. Well, you know what happens if you run a car hard enough for long enough…
This kind of living, these habits, are all too common. In fact, the majority of people I see are caught somewhere in this trap. Either trying to figure out how to relax, or trying to squeeze more out, or both.
I get it… we have jobs, kids, missions, obligations, goals and a lot of commitments… Life is moving very fast. It’s competitive. You might get swallowed up if you let off that gas…
Can you relate? Have you ever wondered if this is harmful to your body or brain?
See if you identify with any of the statements below:
- I need something to get me going in the morning
- I prefer to unwind with alcohol or drugs
- I need supplements to get to sleep or to think better
- It’s hard to shut my mind off
- I feel overwhelmed
- I feel underwhelmed
- I sometimes experience bouts of exhaustion or overwhelm
- I like to watch tv or use my phone to unwind
I bet you cannot say no to all of these. I see too many people trying to meet their health goals, but caught up in their own gas and brakes trap, spinning tires and going no where. Or worse, leaving tracks – pieces of themselves wearing off and laid like rubber.
What if the next level in your performance actually lies beyond all of this – where the 3 Mental C’s – clarity, creativity and calm can be supported and used as tools to make life easier? Less gas and brakes and more… cruise control?!
I think so, and that’s why I have a program called SHIFT – Designed for my clients to help nourish mind, body and spirit. To shift the up-and-down nervous system responses, hormones and the biochemistry of stress, that creates all those unwanted symptoms: cravings, restlessness, weight gain, energy issues, hormone problems, digestive problems, heart problems, mental fatigue, depression, anxiety… I could go on.
So… my questions to you are… Do you think this might be what’s happening to you? Do you feel stuck on and off the gas and brakes and trying to move forward at the same time?
If so, pause and reflect about what moving forward might look like for you. Consider whether your goals and mission are truly being reflected in your actions and your health. The most important thing to do first is recognize the stress that drives your routine of gas and brakes, and identify things you can do to support yourself.
Be good to yourself,