Stress and a busy mind
Posted on 24th April 2017 at 12:54
A busy mind can be many things, on the plus side it can help us to be productive and enables us to
get a multitude of tasks done, it fuels us with information to take on new challenges and experiences and constantly aims for us to get the most out of life (or at least that’s what we think!).
The flipside…it can be our own worst enemy, causing us to rush around, increasing our stress levels which can then lead to feelings of anxiety, but most of all because of how it works it doesn’t allow us to actually enjoy the activities or experiences that we take on. No sooner has one task been completed, that frantically busy mind of ours starts thinking about what comes next, racing ahead to plan the next thing on the list, experiencing it before it’s even happened!
Whilst we hold onto this busy mind, constantly forward planning we are not being present in our lives.
How often do you walk just for enjoyment allowing your body to see where it takes you, enjoying the experience, really noticing things as if for the first time, taking on a beginner’s mind and allowing your senses to become alive again, letting go of racing thoughts, anxiety, stress and planning what’s for dinner later! Often, we tend to walk with our heads or minds leading the way and legs following behind trying to keep up, powering away to get somewhere, constantly striving to achieve and then judging ourselves when we didn’t enjoy the experience as much as we thought we would.
A busy mind and stress are all part of our modern-day norms, thoughts whizz around chasing after each other, the next thought overpowering the last one, eventually our thoughts are all racing about on a merry-go-round, some get lost and confused and go in different directions gradually becoming a blur, it’s a mess, a fuzz and impossible to give full focus and attention on one thing at a time. We can react in so many unhelpful ways.
The result, lack of mental energy and many other negative effects on the body:
Musculoskeletal System – muscles tense up which then over a period of time can impact negatively on the body creating aches, pains and disorders. By utilising relaxation techniques, these stress responses can be reduced and have more beneficial effects on the body.
Respiratory System – Many of us have experienced personally or with someone else the rapid breathing when stressed, it can be genuinely terrifying and can be a huge part of experiencing panic attacks. Learning to control this breathing is one of the most valuable practices we can adopt.
Cardiovascular, Nervous and Endocrine Systems – Fight or flight response is when we experience sudden stress that combines our Cardiovascular System, Nervous System along with our Endocrine system (also known as stress hormones - adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol), the stress hormones not only release energy for flight, they also send messages to the Cardiovascular system resulting in stronger heart muscle contractions and an increased heart rate along with elevating blood pressure.
Repeated occurrences of stress may lead to other medical conditions linked with all three of these systems, something that we all want to avoid!
Gastrointestinal – We are all different when it comes to stress, some of us overeat, others simply cannot eat, this has clear impacts on our digestive system to include indigestion, weight loss or gain, episodes of vomiting or pain. Our bowel movements can then be increased through suffering with diarrhoea or reduce through constipation.
Reproductive Systems – the result of stress on the nervous system over a period of time for
males can be an altered level of testosterone, sperm production and maturation along with the immune system being compromised and sexual difficulties.
For women, they can experience delayed or missed periods, increased difficulty with premenstrual symptoms or worsening of this area which can also be the same for the menopause, sexual desire can also be decreased.
So how do we prevent our minds from racing, how do we become kind to ourselves? Firstly BREATHE….by taking a few simple deep breaths in, our bodies react by calming down the nervous system, this then impacts on our muscles allowing them to relax, blood pressure is also lowered. We can also practice mindfulness, this is rapidly becoming more and more used to help people manage stress, busy lives, anxiety, sleep issues, confidence, clarity and resilience to name but a few. For more information see the Mindfulness page on the Snowdrop House website.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you at peace, you are living in the present.” Lao Tzu
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