It isn’t a coincidence that, as our lives get more and more connected to, and through, technology, our stress levels are going through the roof, our health is going down the tubes and we’re losing our connection to ourselves in the process. Research shows that chronic stress reduces the body’s ability to modulate inflammation, which is the underlying cause for virtually all disease.
Your body has an amazing defense mechanism built into it called the “fight or flight” response. This allows your body, without your conscious participation, to physically remove you out of harm’s way as fast as possible by virtual of a chemical response crew answering the call of a perceived threat….you RUN!
Once the threat has passed, your body has discharged those chemicals and can now return to normal function. The problem is that your body doesn’t know the difference between and a real and a perceived threat. When you perpetually live in activated response mode, a state of quiet (or not so quiet) urgency, as a result of a demanding job, juggling a busy home and family life, financial concerns, or even an addiction to social media and emails, your body responds in the same way it would if you were being chased by a wild animal.
The difference is that, rather than running, you just sit and stew in your chaotic stories about an emergency that is happening only in your head! So the chemicals released to allow you to move quickly continue to circulate instead of getting used up, and this chronic supply of circulating elevated stress hormones is what ultimately leads to a variety of symptoms of disease:
- increased circulating cortisol and adrenaline
- increased heart rate and blood pressure
- increased blood sugaràincreased demand for insulin
- suppressed immunity
- decreased digestion
- mood swings
- predisposes you to depression, angry outbursts, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, digestive issues, difficulty sleeping, more frequent illnesses…
Some other side effects of chronic stress include:
- lack of mindfulness-missing out on your life!
- poor food choices/eating on the run
- dwelling in other peoples’ drama or creating your own
- overexposure to electromagnetic waves from too much electronic screen time
We may not be able to control or remove all the stressors in our life, but we can choose how we manage them. This is where creating your sacred space comes in. Think of it as a time out for grown ups. For kids, parents often use “time out” as a consequence for bad behavior but in reality it is a gift; it’s an opportunity to catch your breath, quiet your thoughts, and calm yourself down from escalating emotions so you can hear your inner voice speak its truth.
- unplugging -> parasympathetic nervous system
- slower, deeper breaths -> more oxygen to the brain
- think more clearly
- lower adrenaline and cortisol
- reduced heart rate and blood pressure
- improved immunity
- stabilize blood sugar resulting in lower demand for insulin
- improved digestion -> increased absorption of nutrients and decreased incidence of GI upset
Reconnecting with your self is NOT a time to socialize. Social interaction is an important component of a balanced life but creating a sacred space is about spending time with YOU, something many people are uncomfortable doing. In living such chaotic lives, we often lose touch with who we are at our core and it takes practice getting reacquainted. Designing this space allows you an opportunity to be creative, which is important to your overall health in and of itself. It also means prioritizing yourself. When your needs are met, you can better meet the needs of others. There are no rules for what your space should look like. You’ll know you’ve gotten it right by how you feel when you’re in it.
When creating your sacred space it’s important to:
- set aside time every day
- set boundaries with family members/work interruptions
- leave electronics behind
- insist on privacy
What makes you feel good?
- essential oils
- the sound or presence of water
- a comfortable place to sit or recline
- be in nature or bring plants in
- gentle movement
This is not time for list making or fretting over everything else you should be doing! This IS what you should be doing and it needs to be a non-negotiable part of your day, along with healthy food, moderate exercise, and adequate sleep.
Recognizing that you, and your health, are sacred is the first step toward implementing lasting change on your journey to improved health. Go ahead and thank yourself now for giving yourself this gift!