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Thrive Plan: Breathe Deeply & Stay in Gratitude | Weekly Journal

About a week ago my good friend and holistic chiropractor in Austin, Jeff Ulery,  called to check in and remind me to breathe and stay in gratitude.  What a simple yet complex reminder.

Of course I breathe, as I have to to survive, but there's a difference between shallow breathing and deep breathing. Breathing deeply is what Amy and Paula help us to do in yoga.  Breathing deeply helps our parasympathetic nervous system take over and restores our body to a state of calm.  When our parasympathetic nervous system is working properly, the body's responses are: 

  • decrease in heart rate and relaxation of muscles

  • constriction of bronchial tubes in the lungs and pupils in the eyes

  • saliva production and the stomach moving and increasing secretions for digestion

  • increase in urinary output and sphincter relaxation

The opposite of the parasympathetic nervous system is the sympathetic nervous system.  It controls the body's "fight or flight" responses, or how the body reacts to perceived danger. With sympathetic nervous responses, the body speeds up, tenses up and becomes more alert. Functions that are not essential for survival are shut down. The specific reactions of sympathetic nervous system are:

  • increase in the rate and constriction of the heart

  • dilation of bronchial tubes in the lungs and pupils in the eyes

  • contraction of muscles and release of adrenaline from the adrenal gland

  • conversion of glycogen to glucose to provide energy for the muscles

  • shut down of processes not critical for survival

  • decrease in saliva production: the stomach does not move for digestion, nor does it release digestive secretions

  • decrease in urinary output and sphincter contraction

It's healthy to utilize the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems each day, but we can't stay in either all of the time.  Before March 16th, we were all living in the fast lane and our sympathetic nervous systems were large and in charge. The pace of life kept us in fight or flight. Then, for a few months most of us were enjoying a slower pace and our parasympathetic nervous systems were enjoying being in charge.  However, while we're not living in the fast lane physically, we are mentallyChange is so rapid and unpredictable now that we can't keep up, and all of us are living in a mental jungle.... being chased by a lion and just trying to survive.  Our sympathetic nervous systems are once again the captain of our temples, making it essential to find opportunities everyday to make our parasympathetic nervous systems the captain again, which is achievable by:

  • Spending time in nature

  • Repetitive Prayer

  • Gratitude

  • Massage

  • Meditation

  • Deep abdominal breathing from the diaphragm

A few weeks ago I had a friend ask me how I wasn't losing my mind. HA! Another loaded question. I told her I was watching/reading minimal news (just enough to stay informed) and being very selective when looking at social media.  Right now, it's all too much for me.  I believe it's responsible to stay informed, but beyond that, the news and social media are negative distractions that take me out of gratitude and fire up my sympathetic nervous system, which, if I want to be my best, I cannot afford. 

Ultimately, I believe if we want to be our best and thrive during this time and beyond, we have to keep our eye on the gratitude ball and be very selective with the balls we choose to swing at.  If we swing at every ball (a.k.a don't discipline ourselves to read/watch more life-giving than life-sucking information) we'll strike out.  But if we're disciplined,  intentional, and wise, we'll only swing at the life-giving balls, which will allow us to hit home runs and slide into home base feeling alive, grateful and mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy! 

Team iGnite, we can do this! 1, 2, 3 Let's Go!  Love, Neissa

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