What to Do When All You Feel is Turmoil

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written, but when I go quiet, I'm thinking about what to share - rather than simply filling your Inbox with more noise, which can give us all 'inbox fatigue.' I've also been filling my website shop with all the things that have proven themselves to me and my clients over the years and I want to make these available to YOU! So you can check these out here. (I'm especially loving all the PPC Herbs, the Executive Digestive and of course The Gut Powders!)

So I want to share with you something important that Aviva Romm wrote recently on stress - I thought I'd just share this here on my blog below:

Speaking of fatigue, I’ve been thinking a lot about the nervous system - specifically, yours and mine – in this wild world we live in.

Dubbed 'crisis fatigue' is what we're now experiencing in the past two years. I'm sure you feel me on that without me even explaining a thing.

It has been my mission to tune into my nervous system and I hope this newsletter gives you (and whomever you share it with) permission to nourish and repair yours as well.

Here’s what I’ve come up with...

Even before the pandemic, we were already facing an epidemic: It’s got a lot of different names:- anxiety, depression, overwhelm, burnout.

I’m sure you've known the feeling - your heart races, your breathing gets shallow, you feel a lump in your throat, a hollow feeling in your chest, you feel like the world is crashing in.

You may become hyper-aware of everything that’s going on around you. It's commonly known as fight or flight mode.

You may also find yourself in another version of this: freeze mode in which you just can't get mobilized - you feel stuck. And then there's another mode called fawn mode in which your people-pleasing self goes into overdrive.

These are all ancient mechanisms our brain has created for survival and they are meant to be short-lived - like minutes to hours at most. But for the past couple of years, for most of us, it’s been activated a lot.

When you're stuck in survival mode, chemicals coursing through your blood are telling you to run, hide, freeze, fight, or fit in (hence the fawning mode).

You might be more frequently or chronically emotionally hyper-activated, agitated, and irritable - maybe even angry. Or you may feel overwhelmed, confused, unable to make a clear decision, or you may experience brain fog, anxiety, depression, and sleep problems. It may even be harder to stand up for yourself or get motivated even for things that you previously enjoyed doing - like exercising or being creative or doing your job at your best level.

While for a hot minute those reactions can serve us well, when we’re in that mode day in and day out, our body not only pays a price, but so do our relationships and happiness in life.

We aren’t meant to spend most of our time in overdrive or irritated, anxious, fearful, vulnerable, or fighting, or in the aftermath of feeling exhausted, depleted, spent, and down. And sometimes we get sick. Physically. Mentally.

As in at least 1 in 4 women was already on an antidepressant before the pandemic, about that many on anti-anxiety meds, and half of all women were having diagnosable levels of sleep problems. And don't get me started on hormone, gut, and autoimmune problems, but let's just say that moves us up to about 99% of women feeling it one way or another.

The tricky thing is that all of the activation I've described creates a vicious cycle in which we eat more sugar, drink more alcohol, binge-watch TV until we're going to bed too late, then we don't sleep well and we're too tired to exercise, get together with friends, and do the other things we need to for our health - like take long walks in nature or floss our teeth regularly. You know what I mean, right?

Too often we assume stress, anxiety, fear, and agitation are just how we’re “wired” or just “who we are.” Ditto that on the physical symptoms. But none of us is all that all the time or even most of the time.

Right now we're facing a sort of global overwhelm and fatigue. And this is really important to remember: it's not just you. It's actually a normal sane response to an insane moment in our world.

So what can we do? Like everyone else, I get stressed out, activated, mad, sad, or overwhelmed. So I've been really really really making the extra effort to take more and better care of myself and the people I love by doing all the things I share below. These practices help me stay on top of my game and my mood.

Here’s my personal resilience building practice - some tools for weathering the storm when it’s swirling around you - and it’s been swirling for most of us for at least the last two years. So I heartily welcome you to join me as we all take more time to....

Hit pause

The antidote that allows us to get out of survival mode and back into feeling like we’re thriving is getting into what is called the parasympathetic nervous system response - more commonly called the “rest and digest mode” because it’s how our body gets restored and replenished.

How do you know when you’re in it? It’s the feeling you experience when you let yourself take a nap, when you finally deeply relax in a massage, or the peace you have when you lie in savasana at the end of a yoga class. This restorative mode helps us recover from the wear and tear of daily life and times of stress, and reset our mind, mood, and body clock.

The problem is that most of us don’t take time to hit the pause button, because we think we can’t - or shouldn’t. But intentionally taking time to recuperate after an unexpected stressful event will lessen its effects. And building in regular time to hit pause can help us to build resilience - the ability to bounce back, stay centered in the storm, and recognize that “this too shall pass.”