There are many things in life that require balance: the tires on our car so that we can drive safely, a well-balanced diet so that our bodies perform at an optimum level, and our bank account so that we do not become overdrawn.
Most of us move at a pace in life that is like the speed of light, conquering anything and everything, and never taking the time to stop and smell the roses. Moving at a pace like this creates multi-tasking, which doesn’t always allow for the best approach.
Find A Balance
We end up not giving each task the attention it deserves and soon our tasks feel like they are controlling us, not us controlling the tasks. And while we are still completing one task our mind is onto the next, and so on.
Lessons From Nature
What happens when nature moves at a pace that is too fast? It can become devastating. Wind, water, and movement of the earth beneath us can become out of sync, stressed if you will, leaving disaster in its path of least resistance. But nature, however, always has a way of balancing itself and healing itself.
There are many lessons to be learned from nature, but its balance is something that deserves close attention. Just as in nature, our bodies are constantly trying to achieve a balance. This is called homeostasis. The five body functions that monitor homeostasis are temperature, glucose, blood pressure, toxins, and pH.
Wow, that is a lot of regulation! But it can easily be broken down scientifically.
When I teach about stress management, I typically talk about the Autonomic Nervous System. When confronted with a threat, our fight or flight response activates, known as our STRESS RESPONSE. Our stress response triggers many involuntary changes in our body, which gives us that burst of energy so that we can fight or run away.
This was helpful in earlier times when the stress humans faced was more physical; it was needed to keep us alive. But today, our stress is more psychological (job stress, caregiving, interpersonal conflict), which activates our sympathetic nervous system more often.
During that time, our bodies begin to struggle to maintain balance. A hormone called cortisol in the blood, saliva, and urine remains at a higher level than what it should. Our body’s peak cortisol response occurs 20 to 40 minutes from the onset of acute stressors and the recovery period, or return to baseline to balance itself, occurs 40 to 60 minutes following the end of the stressor, on average.
The Dangers of Chronic Stress
So, what happens when we continue to experience constant levels of stress? You become at risk for chronic stress and our bodies start struggling to return to baseline, or what I like to call, balance. The scientific term is our sympathetic nervous system stays dominant. It ends up having an impact on the Immune System which can lead to health implications.
Having your stress response activated long term and not getting your body back to a state of relaxation (homeostasis) can tax your system, leaving you over stimulated and depleted at the same time. Studies show that chronic stress can be a contributing factor to almost all major illnesses because chronic stress lowers immunity.
That sounds scary, but then again, so is nature when it is out of balance. If this sounds all too familiar, consider changes. On Sept. 22, Autumn Equinox marked one of the two days during the year where the earth is in complete balance, a time when there is as much daylight as there is darkness. During this time of the equinox, phenology teaches us that plant and life cycles are influenced by seasonal changes. During this time of transition, we, too, are affected by nature.
To start making changes, write down an action plan with goals to help with boundaries, let go of the things you have no control over and, like the leaves on the trees in autumn, shed the tasks that cause multitasking. Last but not least, become abundantly connected by cherishing what you have and then share your harvest with others. Not only will your body thank you, but so will your heart. Having balance is not only essential to maintaining ideal mind, body, and spirit wellness but can help us to have and feel less stress.