Wouldn't it be nice if there was such thing as an "energy bank". A place where we could go and make deposits on those extra energy days so that we could make a withdrawal on those "not so great" days? We actually do have something that acts like our energy bank. It is our adrenal glands. We all have times where the bank feels empty. Burnt out, exhausted, irritable. Working as a Naturopathic Doctor I am well aware of adrenal insufficiency. I see it almost everyday. People who live most of their lives in the fight, flight or freeze state. Cortisol surges through the body like we are being chased by a lion and need to escape but there is no lion. Just a mountain of paperwork, unfinished jobs, or a boss (who perhaps could actually be a lion). All of this stress response gets internalized and has an effect on our physical body. We feel exhausted. Our adrenals are working overtime to try to keep us running. We need to cultivate the "off" switch - the relaxation response. This is where we should be spending most of our lives. Think about a baby. Think about the time they spend in a "quiet, alert" state. Calmly observing the world, absorbing and processing information. This is where we need to be. Calm, alert and responsive not reactive.
I was doing some reading the other day and a statement I came across really struck me. "When your body can't have a physical reaction to stress (like run away or fight) it can become internalized into emotion. Emotions such as anger and fear". Have you ever woken up in the morning and felt angry for no obvious reason? I know I have. There have been times I have woken up and felt like I could actually be a bear. I pick fights with my dear husband, people driving annoy me and little things down right drive me crazy. I had never really thought of this as my stress response. However when I look objectively back at the day I can almost always see a stress trigger. My bank was not full enough to allow the withdrawal of energy. Think about the amount of fear in your life? Or anger? What about our society in general? This doesn't mean we should not care about safety, responsibility and common sense but perhaps we need to look at what else drives our fear. When I am feeling energized and positive fear doesn't really enter into my thought process. Neither does anger. I can response to issues instead of react to them.
From this I have learned to pay attention to my emotions and my physical body. Sometimes my adrenals need extra support. Sometimes they need more than others. I also try to remember to keep myself on the list. To respect the times when I need to go to bed early to rest to make a deposit into the "energy bank". Also the times when I need a more substantial break, to take a few days off, so that I can be fully energized and present with my patients.
What about you? What are you doing to fill up your bank?
Tara Annesley is a Naturopathic Doctor for Rise Up For Health in Newmarket, Ontario. Everyday she works to balance her "withdrawals" with her "deposits".