With all the fear and uncertainty during the time of Covid-19, it is very important
for each of us to make a conscious effort to be aware of what is happening involuntarily inside our bodies.
Here are 3 examples:
- Every time you must decide or react to a social distancing situation whether it is realized or not your physiological body is having a response.
- Every time you watch the news and follow the updates, your body has an involuntary physiological response.
- Every time you become unsure, your body has an involuntary response.
Every thought that travels through our minds has a physiological response inside our bodies which can be measured by medical devices.
Fear comes in many forms, from “teeth chattering” to rage. Other effects of fear can be seen as the “deer in headlights”, to denial and helplessness. Breath holding, shallow breathing, tightness in our diaphragm’s, tightness in our throats and in our stomachs are also indicators of a fear response.
Fear is an involuntary physiological response to a real or imagined or perceived threat. It is very important we understand that we have no control over our bodies involuntary response and in most cases, we are even unaware of the fear response within our own body.
Our bodies are designed to move from a fear response with action of what is deemed necessary and then return to a state of calm. We are not designed to be in a state of constant fear, nor are we designed to have too many fear scenarios.
During a fear response the amygdala shuts off blood to the frontal lobe and takes charge. Your frontal lobe is what allows a person to function with cognitive skills such as logic, problem solving, and judgement along with memory, language and sexual behavior. This is why it becomes so difficult to function and sort through everything.
When we have periods of prolonged fear or have continual fear based involuntary physiological responses there is a good chance that in response our bodies will “lock” on to the fear response (pedal to the metal). This means that the body is unable to return to a state of calm (foot off the gas pedal). This leads to the loss of vagal tone in our vagus nerve. The Vagus nerves responsibility is to take the foot off the gas pedal, and bring our bodies back to a state of calm.
Once the physiological response to fear has locked on and we start losing vagal tone we then experience the psychological aspect (in our heads). Often seen as depression, anxiety, PTSS, insomnia etc.
Unfortunately, it is the psychological symptoms that get treatment while the physiological symptoms go untreated. The physiological symptoms must be treated if there is to be homeostasis.
When we lose vagal tone we may begin to experience any or all of the following conditions:
- Mood Swings and Changes
- Increased Risk of Stroke
- Decreased Sugar Regulation
- Decreased Digestive Enzymes
- Increased Blood Pressure
- Increased Cardiovascular Disease
- Decreased Digestion
- Disruption of Stomach Acid
- Increased Risk of Anxiety /PTSS
- Decreased Stress Resilience
- Increased Inflammation
- Auto immune Disease
- Decreased health of the Gut Microbiome
- Decreased Thyroid Health
During this unprecedented time please become aware and mindful of your body/health.
Here are some proven things you can do to increase Vagal Tone.
a) Breathing exercises – rhythmic, slow, diaphragmatic
b) Humming/Speaking/OM – vibration stimulates the vagus nerve mechanically as it is connected to the vocal cords
c) Washing your face with very cold water
d) Meditation focused on loving thoughts and feelings towards yourself and others.
e) Improve your gut biome – eat whole unprocessed foods, avoid sugar, alcohol, stress, smoke, eat fermented foods (Vita Biosa 10+)
Bring a sense of calm into your life using mindfulness and awareness.
When you practice mindfulness for the activities outlined below, there is no right or wrong, there is no judgement, and no comparing with another.
My favourite: I sit on my horse bareback and I match my breathing rate to match my horses. I do this by feeling my horses’ rib cage move in and out. I close my eyes and feel the connectedness and harmony aligning our breaths make. I feel the sun or wind or rain, being mindful of what it feels like as it interacts with my body. I focus in on what muscles are used by my horse to turn his head, lift or lower his head, shake his head etc. and where do those muscles move under my body? I wander and explore my body looking for tension or sore spots, checking to see if I am crooked….does one leg hang different than the other…..are my sit bones holding equal weight….. my back is it relaxed or tight…. This exercise may also be done while riding.
My only “job” in this exercise is to feel and bring awareness to my body and my horses’ body.
This same exercise can be done with any pet. Instead of “sitting on” you can use your hand to feel movement of your pets’ body to align your breathing. The idea is to focus on feeling in a mindful way.
As well this exercise can be done by yourself in either a lying or sitting position with the focus entirely on yourself.
Leaves on a stream. In this activity you visualize yourself sitting beside a stream (babbling brook). Using all your senses you hear the sounds of the water moving over the stones, you feel the spray of moisture if the wind is blowing, you smell the water, soil, fish etc. Now you envision leaves on the water and watch as they are moved downstream by the current, some twirl and swirl while others seem to find the gentle side of the stream. Now you focus on one leaf at a time and on a leaf you place a care or concern or fear and watch it move downstream. Once the leaf is gone from your vision you find another leaf and place a concern on that leaf and watch it on its journey. How does your body feel as these concerns, cares, fears float away? Once you have sent all your cares, concerns, fears downstream and have been mindful on the change inside your body and to how your senses have improved. Now you place yourself standing in the water and collecting the leaves as they float to you. See the beauty each one has, how the tattered edges signal the adversity it has faced and yet it still hold beauty. Placing your hand over your heart you feel what your heart needs to beat bright and free. As an example, you may feel you need knowledge, help, support, a friend, money etc. As each need comes into your mind, envision that upstream out of your vision a leaf is being filled with that need. As you watch upstream for your special leaf, once again you are being very mindful of how you feel in all parts of your body not just your mind as you collect your leaves, one at a time. This exercise can be practiced anywhere…the car….waiting line…
More options for addressing the physiological component of fear.
Option 1 Bowen therapy provides a 2 session vagus nerve reset.
Lisa-Marie Hyland Bowen Therapy
1811 Victoria ST, Prince George, BC V2L 2L6 250-961-0376
Melanye Walker B-Well Bowenworks
9267 Cottonwood Rd, Chemainus, BC V0R 1K5 250-246-4812
Option 2 Neo40 – Nitric Oxide.
Our bodies produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide production increases with exercise. However, as we age the amount we produce is reduced, especially for women. Nitiric Oxide is extremely important for our cardiovascular health. During periods of stress/anxiety/PTSS etc. our small vessels constrict limiting blood flow/oxygen/nutrients to parts of our body. Increasing Nitric Oxide levels increases elasticity and thus increases blood flow/oxygen/nutrients to our body.
Test strips are available to determine your nitric oxide levels.
Option 3 Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT).
HBOT utilizes pressure to force oxygen molecules into every cell in your body. Blood circulation is not a requirement to transport the oxygen. Forcing oxygen into starved cells decreases the physiological response to stress, and with continued treatments, even if you are unable to get the body to disengage from being stuck in a physiological response to stress, the body is no longer responding physiologically which means the psychological response is also minimized or eliminated. Different pressures are used for different applications. As an example, 12.5 lbs. pressure is optimum for addressing circulation issues as well as re growth of circulatory vessels. It is also the pressure for re growing neuro networks, hence why HBOT is so magical for stroke/head injury victims.
Option 4 Vita Biosa 10+ – Triple Fermented Probiotic.
Vita Biosa 10+/Equina Biosa/Terra Biosa are manufactured in Edmonton, Alta. The Biosa line of products are classified and licensed as a food. The Biosa line up can be found in most health food stores. Wholesale accounts are available.
Option 5 Holosync® Audio Technology
Holosync optimizes your brain and gives you the all benefits of profound, long-term meditation, 8x times faster, at the touch of a button by moving your brain waves from Beta to Delta synchronizing your brain.
Option 6 Mind Aerobics
The Mind Aerobics™ program developed by the New England Cognitive Center is an evidence-based award winning program designed to provide older adults with comprehensive mental workouts that can maintain or improve cognitive functioning.
NECC programs are the only effective, evidence-based cognitive rehabilitation interventions for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia shown by independent research to provide cognitive stabilization, with some domains showing actual improvement.