If a lion is chasing you, it is not a good time to reproduce, forage for food, sleep, relax, socialize or think about doing your taxes. In fact, it’s not a good time for much, other then fighting like mad or running like heck.
Why is the subject of being chased by a lion relevant to you?It’s relevant because your brain doesn’t really distinguish between real or imagined threats. A threat to your livelihood or state of balance can be a lion chasing you, a person criticizing you or a worry about how you are going to pay your bills. The economic collapse is just as much of a lion to your mind as your worries about not losing weight. When your mind perceives a given challenge or stress as unmanageable (i.e. there is no obvious solution, which is what happens when you worry), a stress response is triggered whereby a whole host of physiological changes transpire which get your heart racing, your body tense, your respirations shallow and your body’s metabolic processes to take a pause, so you can focus on getting out of harms way. The more you worry, the more the stress system fires. And guess what? You need energy to fight like mad or run like heck, and that energy has to come from your body’s resources. One of those resources is your bones, which are broken down during the fight or flight process to provide you with necessary minerals and calcium. Normally, when the mind perceives a stress or challenge is taken care of, the stress response gets turned off, so that the physiological changes have just the beneficial effect of mobilizing energy stores. With chronic stress, however, or chronic worries, these physiological changes do not stop and the result can be a continuous breakdown of the bone. The good news is that I have seen many of my clients reverse this process by getting a better handle on their stress, getting that stress response under control and learning how to become stronger in mind, body and spirit through meditation practices, healthy nutrition, adding supplements as necessary, and honing their physical fitness. When they become stronger, their mind changes and starts perceiving life’s challenges as manageable. When the mind perceives stress as manageable, the stress response is only turned out for short periods, when needed. Think about it this way: The stress system goes on when you feel like you are unsafe, unsupported and in danger. Your bones function to support your entire body. So think about SUPPORT. What do you need to feel more supported and what do you need to do to support your body to thrive?
Here are some stress resilience tips:
- Connect with those you love who can love you back. Support has been shown to heal all kinds of physical and psychological problems. Join a support group, spend time with friends. Reach out.
- Allow yourself to get lost for a short while with your connection to a universe that is much larger than your own world. Spend time in nature or use your imagination to find images that are soothing to you. As you spend time in nature or contemplating this big connection, imagine that wherever the universe is guiding to go, the destination will only be good.
- Be loving and gentle toward yourself. This is the hardest of all, especially when your body is not cooperating with giving you what you want. We live in a world where there is so much blame and shame, we can’t help beating ourselves up for not being good enough. So STOP. Stop “shoulding” on yourself. Stop blaming and shaming yourself and start to love yourself. Cherish your body as the temple that a life would want to be part of, especially your own.
- Make sure that everywhere you sit, lie down, walk, run or play, you have the support. This means having a supportive bed, shoes, chairs, or back rests while you drive in the car. You want a seat that supports your back, shoes that support the arch of your foot. Support helps your bones maintain their core stability and therefore strength.
- Get stronger and taller by increasing your physical activity as tolerated, doing both resistance training and aerobic exercise. You may want to work with a trainer or with an Alexander Technique specialist who can show you how to walk, sit, lie down properly, engaging your muscles and joints in a more efficient and effective way.
- Eat for fuel. Food is not for reward, it is for fuel. Fuel your bones with dark leafy greens, your best source of magnesium and calcium. Avoid foods that cause your stress response and inflammation to be activated like processed and refined sugars, white flour, or gluten, if you are sensitive.