Busy seems to be the new normal these days. We become so easily caught up with the hustle and bustle of home and family life, work demands, and social obligations, we sometimes forget how important it is to hit the pause (or even slo-mo) button.
Finding time to pause in the middle of all the busyness can be a real challenge though, right? It often feels as if EVERYTHING has to be done right this minute. That's a lot of pressure! Soon enough, we find ourselves overwhelmed, exhausted, feeling defeated, lacking focus, and lacking motivation. On top of that, we go through this cycle everyday. How sustainable is that?
Let's pause for a moment. Take a breath. Whenever we're constantly "on", we are pushing our physical and emotional capcities to constantly meet the needs of each moment. Sometimes this entails assessing for risks/threats to ensure we're prepared/safe. However, two very significant things happen here:
We become physically and emotionally depleted and dysregulated. This means that our physical and mental resources aren't replenished to function in the way we need to.
We become conditioned for survival response. If we are constantly "on" and assessing for threats, our new normal will be that state. Also, when we are physically and mentally depleted, our body will do what it needs, drawing on whatever resources are available to reset. Therefore, our intellectual functioning slows down, our physical capacity starts to wane, and the body goes into self-preservation mode (shutdown).
The bottom line: We need rest. It's an important part of our functioning. With rest, you allow your mind and body to be refreshed, extending their capacity to help you function throughout your day.
When we think of a reset, we typically think of starting over. In this case, you're giving yourself an opportunity to be refreshed and start anew. A good practice for having a reset is to practice grounding.
The term "grounding" is derived from the sensation of feeling your feet on the ground. That is, to feel and be aware of your sense of presence in the here and now. By grounding, you're positioning your mind and body to be aware of your own presence and safety, and shifting away from unhelpful or distressing memories of the past, or worries about the future. In other words, resetting promotes relaxation of the nervous system.
Other grounding and/or resetting techniques include deep breathing exercises, working out, or doing a vagus nerve reset.
When you rest and reset, you're helping your nervous system regulate. Regulation refers to the ability to be aware of, tolerate, and respond to your emotions. We feel dysregulated when we feel we can't tolerate or manage our emotions. Something interesting happens when we're dysregulated - we aren't able to appropriately engage rational thinking. This is because when our nervous system is activated, our emotions take over the steering wheel. This is actually a necessary survival response. However, as we discussed earlier, if you're constantly in this mode, it will result being stuck on "on", where we are constantly agitated, exhausted, depleted, or stuck on "off" where we go into shutdown. What we want to target is being in a "mid-zone", or what Dr. Dan Seigel calls our "window of tolerance". Within our window of tolerance we can navigate emotional highs and lows, and still be able to function well.
Rest, reset, and regulation are important for daily functioning and survival. They are necessary for helping us stay connected with our needs, and building and maintaining relationships with others. These tools are also necessary for children and are great to practice during family or one-to-one time.
Make the time to pause: rest, reset, and regulate.
If you would like to discuss your therapeutic needs, and would like to explore the possibility of starting therapy, feel free to contact Heartspring Therapy by calling 416-688-5274, or by booking a free initial consult at heartspringtherapy.ca/book-online. In-person and video therapy sessions are available.