My typical Tuesday afternoon: 10 Year old Abby yelling, "Mom, I need help with my science project!" My 15 year old son, "Mom, I am starving, what do we have to eat?" My 19 year old, Carmen, calls me from college,
Mom, I am applying for student aid, how much did you make last year?" Me, "I have not filed yet." Carmen, "What??? Why! I need this now!" Three loads of unfolded laundry, making dinner, talking on the phone, helping Abby, telling Charlie to find a snack, creating the newsletter for the studio, doorbell rings, Abby's art teacher arrives, dog barks, Abby yells, I drag the dog to garage...CHAOS!!! My brain looks like a martini that has been violently shaken!
In our world today, most of us live in an almost constant sympathetic nervous system state. Fight or Flight. High stress jobs with few breaks, responsibilities at home and the current chaotic state of our world causes us to be in a perpetual fight or flight state where the adrenal system is activated, causing the body to become tense, on high alert, and ready to fight or run. Functions that are not immediately essential (like the immune & digestive systems) are slowed down to save energy. Our bodies, minds and souls are not designed to be in a constant sympathetic nervous system state. So, it is no wonder we are all sick and tired most of the time! Health issues that stem from chronic stress include cardiovascular issues, high blood pressure, and immune system suppression. Other issues may include digestive issues, cold sores, jitteriness, and anxiety. Long term high stress can also lead to chronically low energy levels, respiratory problems, sexual dysfunction and much more.
So, how do we deal with all the chaos and stress? After 19 years of practicing, teaching and educating myself about the benefits of yoga, I can attest to the fact that yoga is why I can still function at a fairly sane level. Through the practice of deep breathing, simple movement, mantras and music, I am slowing learning to cultivate equanimity - evenness of mind especially under stress (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/equanimity). I call this a mom time out. I go into my room, close the door, lay on the floor, move in a healing way, breathe and listen to my favorite mantra. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOlZlXn0KT8&t=581s
It does not take long, about 10 minutes, and I can go back to my kids and responsibilities with relative calmness in the chaos: Equanimity.
Taking a moment to calm yourself is essential to well-being and good health. Allowing the parasympathetic nervous system to kick in, creating a state of rest and digest. This allows the body to return to calmness and peace and gives it a chance to relax and repair. The parasympathetic system is the state we should be in most of the time, using the sympathetic system only rarely.
For a brief overview of the sympathetic vs. parasympathetic nervous systems go to: https://adrenalfatiguesolution.com/fight-or-flight-vs-rest-and-digest/
Take time everyday to turn off the noise, find and practice whatever helps you restore your parasympathetic nervous system, weather it be a yoga practice, a song, a prayer, a moment of quiet outside, anything that stills your mind and quiets your soul.
Cultivate equanimity and your world can be like a martini expertly mixed...stirred not shaken. The world can stir around you but you are not shaken.
Shannon Burbridge is Co-Owner of Aura Aerial & Yoga, teaching various group classes including yoga and aerial yoga. She holds 200 hour certification through Body Balance School of Yoga Therapy with training in Anusara Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Hatha yoga and more. She lives in Jacksonville Beach with her children, her loving boyfriend Chris and Avalanche their dog. Visit auraaerialandyoga.com to view the class schedule.