Lifestyle & Supplements

Forced Relaxation: Tip Your Stress Response

Written by Dr. Andrew Neville

The condition of Adrenal Fatigue is a dysfunction of the Stress Response itself. Your body has been stuck in a stress response (fight or flight) for an extended period of time. This occurs because of a combination of genetic susceptibility and too much chronic stress of any and every kind: trauma, divorce, injury, your job, family, surgery, traffic, social media, etc.

Stress can also come from learned behavior patterns, like overachieving, people-pleasing, type A personality, traits, and perfectionism.

Regardless of how it happens, this means that your body gets stuck in “stress physiology.” Your body’s physiology is like a seesaw: one side of the seesaw is stress physiology (fight or flight), and the other is relaxation physiology (rest and digest). These sides should be in balance. You need both to work together to live.

Relaxation physiology is the opposite, the state where you not only rest and digest, but also where you heal and repair.

Heal and repair

Stress physiology is lifesaving if used short term, but if used too often, it creates tremendous wear and tear on your system, which gets stuck in overdrive. Relaxation physiology is the opposite, the state where you not only rest and digest, but also where you heal and repair. As you can imagine, too much wear and tear without enough healing and repair is not a recipe for health and well-being.

The most effective way to turn on rest and digest physiology is with a consistent form of relaxation exercise.

Since life demands that you stimulate your stress physiology all too often, this means we have to pursue its opposite, actively, and forcibly. Relaxation exercises are activities such as meditation, deep breathing, guided imagery, or visualization.

There are other activities that may “relax” you, like reading a book, doing a puzzle, going for a walk, watching a movie or a favorite TV show. These things are helpful and certainly have their place, but I am referring to something very different, which is the most efficient and effective stimulation of each and every healing mechanism in your body through forcing rest and digest physiology.

“Forced” Relaxation

A relaxation exercise does not have to be anything complex. You don’t have to learn anything at all. All you do is find a spot that’s quiet and comfortable, sit or lie down, close your eyes, and focus on one thing. When your mind drifts, which it will, just grab it and return to your focus. Simple.

Some people choose to focus on a word; they may use one such as health, peace, love, or strength. This is meditation. Others choose repeat memorized phrases, like a short prayer or mantra.

Some people focus on their breath, which is deep breathing. Still others choose visualization and focus on a picture. It doesn’t matter to your body what you choose to focus on, as long as it works for you.

There is a lot of information and instruction on the numerous ways to accomplish this, and everyone seems to think that their way is the best. Some sources may tell you that if you do it any other way, then you’re doing it wrong. Nonsense. The best way is the way that works for you, the way that you’ll stick with it.

The process is simple: consistent, daily, timed focus. This is not a mind wandering exercise; this is a focus exercise. This is a key piece of the healing puzzle. Healing is about putting enough of those puzzle pieces together at the same time. That’s when your body begins to shift into healing and repair physiology and starts to heal itself.