Stress. Nearly everyone experiences too much of it.
Take driving in Austin. Rush hour. I-35.
Or reading/listening to the news. Loud voices convinced they are right, trying to persuade you to believe them. Politics, vaccines, polarization. Anger. Blame.
How about work/life balance? Money. Family and relationship issues. Social media. Injustice. The list of potential stressors goes on.
Stress is everywhere, affecting our body-mind systems. It can be acute, a physical reaction to a threat, where ideally our systems return to a calm, alert state when the threat is gone.
It can also be chronic, a long-term condition affecting the health of the entire system.
Chronic stress affects sleep, blood pressure, muscle tension and pain. It can cause headaches, panic attacks, anxiety, depression. It can contribute to addictions and obesity and chronic diseases.
You would have to live in a thick bubble not to notice and experience the effects of stress on our systems, our lives, living in these times.
Something you may not realize is that your body-mind system performs most of its health-maintaining and prolonging functions when you are relaxed.
Relaxation slows your heart rate and breathing (less wear and tear on those organs) and improves the functioning of your entire digestive system (more availability of nutrients to cells).
When you are stressed, your system’s resources are focused on managing threats.
Relaxation in this modern life takes some effort. It involves many choices made over time.
If you are feeling the effects of chronic stress and would like to reset your nervous system in the moment, you can slow your breathing and make your exhalations longer, practice the physiological sigh (3 times), or do the 4-7-8 breath (4 times).
Try them all and discover what works best for you, at least twice a day. Then use it when a bad driver nearly hits you, or you get an unexpected or unaffordable bill, or…whatever stresses you.
You can commit to a daily meditation practice. Ten minutes is a good length to start with. Even one minute of silence and stillness, with your attention turned inward, makes a difference, if you use it several times a day.
You can also jumpstart your nervous system reset by getting a craniosacral therapy session.
How does it work? In both biomechanical (i.e., Upledger trained) and biodynamic craniosacral therapy, still points play an important role.
A still point is a pause in the fluctuation of your cerebrospinal fluid, a subtle rhythm that affects your entire system from deep inside your body.
When a still point occurs, it gives your autonomic nervous system a chance to pause and rebalance.
With repeated still points, which can be brief or last 20 minutes or longer, as well as choices you make to minimize stressors in your life, the equilibrium of your autonomic nervous system can move toward more relaxation and greater health.
Simply put, recurring or continuous stress that the body is unable to deal with affects us physiologically, structurally and emotionally. Eventually we reach a point of constant alertness, which depletes the body, and downgrades its ability to balance itself. By stimulating the rest and recovery systems of the body, the subtle work of CST allows the body to resource its powers of rehabilitation and revival.Craniosacral Therapy Association, UK