Hello Dear Ones:

Resilience or Stress?

 I want to share with you the fascinating story of how the Vagus nerve can work to provide resilience in our bodies or how it can encourage us to hold onto stress. The problem is that after slamming on the breaks, we often do not return to the calm that heals and sustains us. This is where stress has gone wrong and decided to take up housekeeping in our bodies.

I was a professor for 32 years and I proclaim here that I have earned my stress. I was very productive. I was successful, but I was not happy.

I Pushed Myself

I thought that productive meant pushing myself to do more and to accomplish more. The word, resilience, was not in the common parlance and I never thought about it. Now, I pay more attention to resilience, which means holding myself fiercely to what my body tells me and responding with loving attention. This new approach requires a different kind of awareness.

I Lived in My Head

When I was productive, I lived in my head. I used to think that’s where reality was. Now that I am well over 50 – in fact, much closer to 70 — I am fierce about paying attention to my body.  When we listen to our bodies, our language gives us away: there are things we can’t stomach; we chew on a tough issue; we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders.

Being fierce about resilience, can offer a reorientation and asks us to pay more attention to how we feel our bodies.

Fight, Flight, or Freeze

Our first response to being attacked is to act out: to run, to fight back, to shake it off (like our pets do), to duck or attempt to escape. Sometimes, however, we are immobilizedfrozen in fear and this is especially where we hang onto stress. This stress response is tied to a branch of the nervous system called the autonomic nervous system.

Frozen in Fear

Here’s a personal example: I was raped during a home invasion many years ago. During the experience I was held down, frozen in fear. I imagined myself somewhere else (disassociation) , and this trauma stayed with me, in my body for many years, until I worked through the trauma with body-centered therapy. But until that time, every creaking door and every heavy footstep made me jump.

[And this is a good place for an important caveat. If you feel that your symptoms are not manageable, I encourage you to seek professional therapy.]

Rest and Digest

The good news is that the Vagus nerve can also be used to bring us back into a calm state called rest and digest, which is supported by the parasympathetic nervous system. Instead of blood rushing into our hands and feet to facilitate an escape from the saber-tooth tiger who is chasing us, the Vagus nerve, when trained to achieve resilience, can send blood and oxygen to our bellies allowing us to properly digest our food and rest calmly.  

Are You Still With Me?

Clearly, even though you might have never heard of the Vagus nerve, it is very important to our well-being. It is a door way, or perhaps better described as a switch, between stress and resilience.

Next week I describe the details of the techniques I offer. So glad you’ve come along! 

 

 

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Here is the Video

I faced a dilemma here, dear readers. The wonderful techniques that I offer do not show up until the end of the blog — they are part of Part III. However, I did not want to keep you waiting. So I will post the video at the bottom of each of the blogs in this series. Enjoy and let me know what you experience! 

 

 

Also, you might want to follow up by purchasing my online masterclass called, “Unshackle Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life”

 

Here’s the link:

http://annmerle.com/unshackle-your-stress-and-reclaim-your-life-masterclass/

 

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