Back in the beginning of time, we were equipped with this amazing mechanism that saved us when a big saber tooth tiger jumped out of the woods and started chasing us: our fight-or-flight response.
The fight or flight response is basically your body’s response to perceived danger.
You’ve seen it get activated if you get scared out of nowhere, or maybe you get into an argument and your hands start shaking and adrenaline starts pumping.
It protects and serves us in many dangerous situations that we need to escape from, but what about the ones that don’t need escaping like the everyday moments that stress us out.
And you wanna hear something interesting?
Your body actually doesn’t know the difference between a saber tooth tiger chasing you, your boss yelling in your ear at work, slamming a meal down while you’re on the go, thinking of all you have to do, stressing about all you haven’t done, focusing on other things besides the present moment…
Even the smallest things, your thoughts and emotions included, can send this system into overdrive.
In these situations, or any like them, your body activates its stress response and goes into sympathetic nervous system dominance. When your sympathetic nervous system is dominant, insulin and cortisol are elevated.
The blood rushes from your digestive system to your extremities. While this may make sense if you’re out-running a tiger or escaping any dangerous situation, it wreaks havoc on your mental well-being, digestion and metabolism.
Stress and elevated stress hormones shut down your digestive system, decrease the amount of nutrients that you absorb, cause you to gain and store fat, makes it difficult to gain muscle and causes appetite deregulation and oftentimes are the culprit of an increased appetite and overeating.
Get Present To Combat Stress
A way combat this would be to activate your body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for your body’s “relax and digest” response. Activating this is like hitting a switch that kicks on your body’s metabolic power.
When this mechanism is active, your body naturally releases excess weight easily, blood stays around the center of your body aiding in digestion, cortisol regulates and your body returns to a peaceful and happy state.
There are a number of ways to activate this system, but one of the quickest ways is to work on getting present. Being in the moment frees us to experience life more fully and allows us to fully show up moment by moment.
There is more mental stimulation going on around you now more than ever. Social media, emails and texts are constantly demanding your attention. With the convenience of technology, our to-do list has also grown and real connection has faded.
How many times have you been out to dinner with a loved one and not been fully present?
How many times have you missed out on an important conversation or experience because of stress about the future or all that you have to do?
How many times have you not moved forward because of regret or fear from the past?
Spiraling in fears and anxiety about the future and past keep the fight or flight response in overdrive and a lack of presence in the moment forces your brain and body to do extra work.
By getting present and really focusing on and enjoying the moment, it brings everything back down to earth. Your brain and body naturally relax, activating the “relax and digest” response, causing your metabolism to boost, fat burning potential to increase and the overall enjoyability of your life to sky rocket!
Simple Breathing Exercise
A quick way to get present in moments of chaos is through breathing. A great exercise that Dr. Andrew Weil suggests is 4-7-8 breathing. This consists of inhaling through your nose for a count of four, holding your breathe for a count of seven and exhaling for a count of eight. This type of breathing, repeated a few times, will immediately help to activate the relaxation response in your body!
Other ways to really get present are to give yourself reminders to focus on the present by heightening your awareness.
What’s beautiful around you? Can you look the person you’re talking to in the eyes and connect deeper? What are you grateful for in the moment?
Notice the sounds, smells, colors. We miss so much beauty just because we are too busy to pay attention, slow down and absorb all of the magnificence that’s around us.
Commit today to focusing on the present moment. See how it shifts your internal and external environment for the better. And let us know about it in the comments below. We love hearing from you!
After turning her own yo-yo weight loss and gain, binge and emotional eating and severe health complications around, Brittany now leads other women internationally to create a life fueled by freedom instead of diets, weight and food obsession as a Blogger, Speaker and International Master Coach. People come to her with issues around their health, eating and weight and a total transformation ends up taking place at their core.
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