Are you running out of juice?

energy burnout health stress

by Avni Trivedi Article in Plenish mag Aug 2013- link

In modern times we have a myriad of gadgets and gizmos to save time and grace us with efficiency. In reality many of us are regularly feeling stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted. There’s a trend in all areas of life and work to go faster and harder. But what if that’s not the only way? What if slowing down and taking time to smell the roses was not only possible, but beneficial to our health and happiness?

The stress response

In short bursts the stress response is vital for keeping us out of reach danger. In modern life we don’t encounter much threat yet stress levels are higher than ever. Long-term stress from the constant busyness of life (even if you think you strive with it) is related to most chronic illnesses. The stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol can sustain activity but mask underlying fatigue. If you have a tendency to be ‘on the go’ these hormone levels stay elevated and prevent the body from having the chance to recharge. When you do finally have a break you may find you ‘crash’ and become susceptible to getting unwell. Stress hormones play havoc with health when they are raised for long periods – linking to weight gain, anxiety, sleep issues, fertility issues, heart disease and poor health behaviors such as sugar or nicotine addiction. The nervous system has two paths – the ‘fight or flight response’ and the lesser known path which leads to calm and connection. In our frantic world there can be a sense of disconnection as we rush to do and not to be. That’s where oxytocin comes in.

Nature’s secret weapon

In this day and age where technical and complex solutions are often considered best, nature has the last laugh. Her simple and powerful balancer is oxytocin, an ancient hormone and neurotransmitter. Oxytocin is a hormone that’s usually thought of in the context of supporting natural childbirth facilitating breastfeeding. Dubbed the ‘love hormone’, it’s also an important hormone for calm, connection and bonding. Oxytocin is released by both men and women during touch, lovemaking, meditation and meaningful social interaction. The higher its levels, the lower the stress levels. By the same token oxytocin is inhibited by high stress. So to live truly in balance, pace your life so that there’s some slow to ease the rush.

7 tips for raising oxytocin levels to help you reboot

1) Early-riser – The old adage of early to rise gives a gentle headstart to the day. Use this time to meditate, stretch and plan your day.

2) Stir the senses – Try lime of mandarin oil in a burner or spritzer. Juice in the mornings and using brightly coloured glasses to provide a feast for the eyes. Wear fabrics such as organic cotton or caressing cashmere. Choose music that soothes you rather than anything jarring.

3) Curb your screen time – The nervous system can’t differentiate between what’s real and what’s you’re witnessing on a screen. That means all the action films and horror scenes (not to mention news coverage) leave a lasting imprint on your body. Let entertainment be light and not a stressor in itself.

4) Plan it – Pencil in your breaks and stop-gaps just as you would plan work and other commitments. This will allow you to be on fire at work and leave you energy to do the things your enjoy.

5) Guard your bedroom – Keep it an oasis of calm- a place to switch off and recharge. Ban the smartphones and clutter and use soft lighting so your body is primed to rest.

6) Get out of your head – and into your body. Breathe, stretch, move with attention and have some time to potter each day where the mind can settle.

7) Touch for health – See a bodyworker for skilled treatments or cajole a loved one into foot rubs. Even hugs release oxytocin!