Vitality is something we all desire. It describes the state of being strong, active and bursting of energy. Physical health, mental health and emotional health are all required to achieve a state of true and lasting vitality.
So, why is it so difficult to maintain vitality in our modern world? A common obstacle to a person’s sense of vitality is stress. Stress impacts on each level of health and diminishes energy. Stress encompasses the physical, mental and emotional reactions we have to anything we perceive as a threat to our immediate safety. When we are in a situation that we perceive to be stressful, our mind releases a series of hormones. These hormones are commonly referred to as ‘flight-fight-freeze’ hormones as they help catapult us into our survival state.
Now let’s be clear, this ‘survival state’ was once extremely useful. It kept us alive while hunting, gathering and looking for shelter. However, the definition of a ‘threat’ has changed dramatically. Our threats might include traffic on the way to work, the fear of losing employment, anxiety about money, pressure from work deadlines… and the list goes on. Now, instead of saving us, our survival response is a burden to our health and overall vitality.
Stress reactions can manifest on all levels — physical, mental, emotional — from a single stress event. On a physical level, we may experience digestive issues or adrenal fatigue. On a mental level, we may become irritable or spiral into negative thinking or lose our sense of self-confidence. On an emotional level we may lose motivation or become sad and withdrawn. All of these symptoms have the ability to block the flow of energy through the body and lower our sense of vitality.
It’s no surprise that stress is an epidemic in our ‘go, go, go’ society. It is easy to be swept up in the day-to-day grind and forget to intentionally focus on building vitality. No matter your role in life, I’m sure you can attest to the sense that there’s ‘always more to do’. It’s no wonder that self-care falls to the bottom of the to-do list!
Mindfulness can be an important first step for addressing stress. It can be a bit tricky to know if you are ‘doing it right’ when you first start but rest assured there’s no wrong way to meditate, as long as you focus on breathing deeply and relaxing. The following exercises are great for practicing mindfulness on a daily basis:
1. Diaphragm Breathing – Sit or stand with your back nice and straight and monitor how far down into your lungs your breathe goes with every inhalation. Placing your hand across your diaphragm, aim to take your breathe down as deep as you can into your diaphragm until your hand resting on the outside is moved gently upwards by your breathe. Practice this daily and as often as you need to in order to regain some calm in your day.
2. Live in the now – We spend much of our day worrying about things that have happened or may happen in the future. This doesn’t have to be about things that bother us but can be as simple as going over our plans for such and such a time. By doing this we miss out on what is happening around us right now. Making the effort to be present in each moment as we go through our day and paying attention to what is happening now instead of at some other time is extremely helpful in reducing stress and getting the most out of now.
3. Practice positive thoughts – By monitoring our thoughts and being aware of the quality of them, we can work to replace negative, unhelpful thoughts with thoughts that are positive and productive and thus reduce physiological reactions to negative thoughts.
4. Body scan – Find a comfortable place to just rest with your eyes closed for a few minutes and take the time to tune into how your body is feeling. During this time do not try to change how anything is feeling; the aim is just to notice. Beginning at the top of your head slowly work your way down all the way to the tips of your toes and just notice. After having done this enough times you will be easily able to tell if something isn’t quite right or needs your closer attention.
To address just one level of health, when dealing with the stress, is not useful for authentic healing.
Positive change can only be achieved by addressing physical-mental-emotional health simultaneously. That’s why we treat clients holistically at Wellnation Clinics. Maintaining all levels of health not only leads to optimal health, but it increases your capacity to manage stressful circumstances with ease.
If you’re looking to increase your vitality levels, why not book in for a naturopathy appointment? Your Naturopath is able to prescribe herbs, provide nutrition advice and address emotional issues to ultimately strengthen your adrenal system and help your spirit soar.
- Ellis A, Gordon J, Neenam M, Palmer S, Stress Counselling, Sage, 2001
- Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University, 2017
- Schneiderman N, Ironson G, Siegel S, Stress and Health: Psychological, Behavioural and Biological Determinants, Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 2005, vol 1 pp 607-628
- American Psychological Association, How Stress Effects Your Health, 2013