Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Stressed? How to Slow Down the Pace

Protect your nervous system from stress.

I found myself sitting in a small, underground room, illuminated by fluorescent bulbs.  The air reeked of an old-fashioned smell, probably piped throughout the building.  This scent, along with the hot pink doors on the toilets next door, took me to an earlier era – but not early enough.

The presenter began his introduction to Organic Intelligence, a leading-edge, body-based therapy for shock trauma.  He shuffled through slides as he ambled across the front of the room, explaining how the human nervous system was designed for the reality of the hunter-gatherer period, not for our speedy, complex, and uncertain modern world.

Stress and Your Nervous System

Thus, nervous system dysregulation can impact almost everyone in these busy times, not just those subject to the distress of trauma.

When your nervous system is regulated, you’re able to respond to perceived danger in an appropriate manner and then return to a baseline of calm.  These days, perceived danger can be anything from a nasty comment to fear for your job.  More and more people find themselves constantly stressed with little recourse for turning down the frazzle.

How do you know if your nervous system is dysregulated?  Here are some clues:

  • Do you feel stressed most of the time?
  • Do you have a hard time relaxing?
  • Do you often feel on edge?
  • Do you frequently feel restless?
  • Do you feel uncomfortable with unscheduled time and open space?
  • Do you stay busy?
  • Do you have trouble returning to a calm baseline after an upsetting or frightening occurrence?

The Healing Power of Connection

During the hunter-gatherer period, people lived in small tribes surrounded by nature.  They enjoyed regular social engagement through forms like storytelling, singing, dancing, and ceremonies.  They followed the rhythms of nature, rising with the sunrise and resting with sunset.  Even though they faced danger at times, these social and environmental factors supported nervous system regulation.

Now, those natural factors elude many of us.

At the break, I wandered upstairs and outdoors, where I could breath freely on this sultry, cloud-covered night.  Tears tricked from the edges of my eyes.  For a few moments, I spontaneously grieved for the loss of these earlier times when connection with others and with the natural world mattered and, in fact, came first.

Finding Your Way to Peace

Recently, a health care provider suggested I spend less time on electronics due to radiation issues.   This didn’t surprise.  It feels like a cellular memory of these earlier, non-electronic times had already been calling me away.  But, in response, I feel an inner conflict.

My online activity constitutes my self-created identity, plus I value my connections on the web.  The thought of “dropping out” also means facing the unknown, the uncertain, the void.  A bit scary, but then they say you should do something scary everyday.

My friend Robin Easton, author of Naked in Eden, went cold-turkey off the internet for a long while.  She spends a good part of her time in the wilderness, mostly being rather than doing. She’s back online, but not so often.  I find each one of her social media updates deep, nourishing, and positively challenging.  But I’m happy she enjoys the solitude she needs.

I sometimes wonder, “Would this be the right way for me?”

We each have to find our own way, don’t we?  I value the care and wisdom that can be conveyed through words.  So much so that I’ve built my world around sharing my words via electronic communication, hoping they will soothe, strengthen, and support others.

I’m not ready for a sudden departure from the inter-webs.  So I continue to strive for the middle way, determined to make time for the natural simplicity and peace of mind my heart desires.

Some Tiny Steps to Slow Down the Pace

I don’t have a long list of solutions for reducing my time on the internet and slowing down the pace.  I’m trying tiny steps like:

  1. Writing the draft of this piece by longhand, instead of on the computer.
  2. Turning the Wi-Fi off at night.
  3. Sleeping more and resting when I feel tired.
  4. Taking a day of rest.
  5. Engaging in activities that slow down the pace like Tai Chi.  It could be baking bread, gardening, knitting, or something else that’s a good fit for you.

If you’re longing for peace, I understand.  It sometimes seems like an unattainable commodity in this chaotic world, in which addiction to stimulation, instant feedback, and constant interaction have become the norm.

But, serenity awaits you if you choose it.  The secret is to take intentional steps that integrate peace into your daily life.  And big whopping dose of nature can also set your system straight.  Depending on your personal situation, cold turkey could be the answer for you.

Are you longing for more peace?  What steps are you taking?  How do you challenge an addiction to stimulation?  I would love to hear.  When we share, we help each other learn and grow.

If you feel constantly stressed, consider my self-paced e-course:  Living with Ease, The Mindful Way to Dissolve Stress.

Thank you for reading.  I appreciate your presence.  If you have a moment, please share this article with others.  Until next time, may you be well, happy, and safe.  With love, Sandra

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18 Comments

  1. I am mostly pretty peaceful and my pace is naturally slow —-inherited from my Dad 🙂 and works well for me but drives some of my friends nuts :). The two things that have made life less peaceful are both physical challenges that are potentially isolating. I continue to try to heal them but also try to learn to live with them. I find that both acupuncture and Network Chiropractic helps me be so much calmer with these two difficulties. I am so grateful that both practitioners are willing to barter with me for their services.

    • How nice that you naturally move at a slow pace and feel peaceful, Jean. I’m sorry for your physical challenges. I know how hard they can be. I’m glad you have some positive solutions that make the physical difficulties easier for you. And what a win to be able to barter too!

  2. Some years ago I began to take steps to protect us from harmful emf’s Sandra. I’ve worn a ankle bracelet designed to do just that since then and we have our bed surrounded by protection too. Not that we have any electronics in the bedroom, but we’re always being bombarded.

    I’d love one of those nets that surround the bed and totally allow your body to refresh itself…but.. haven’t taken it that far…yet. 🙂

    As for addiction to busyness…I actually can be perfectly happy to sit outside and listen to the sounds of nature…though it’s true I don’t do it as often as I might.

    Selfishly, I’m glad you’re not choosing a total offline presence…I’d miss you.

    • I would miss you too, Elle! Definitely not leaving. I’m so happy you have taken steps to protect yourself from EMF’s. It’s so helpful to know about the ankle bracelet. Thank you. I understand that there’s a crystal you can get for your computer that helps with the EMF’s. I’ll be looking into these things. I want to get something for the bedroom too. I’ve never heard of the “nets” before! It’s a whole new world to investigate.

      I’m so glad you can relax so easily. It’s harder for me as my nervous system has been dysregulated, but I’m learning to move into regulation! Hugs to you!

  3. Sandra,

    I feel and understand your pull in both directions. I have similar feelings. Having built our identities and businesses around the internet, it’s not really feasible to just completely walk away. I guess, the challenge for both of us is to find balance – whatever that is for each of us.

    I so appreciate your guidance and friendship online.

    • Hello Debbie, Yes, this is what I’m aiming for too: balance. I’m so glad you pointed that out. As you know, the online world can be all consuming. I’m glad you have yoga and I have Tai Chi and other ways to chill out.

      I was just marveling in my own mind a few days ago about what a brilliant writer you’ve become. I also appreciate all the knowledge and experience you share and am so grateful for our connection and mutual support as well.

  4. This is a lovely piece Sandra, and made me feel more expansive just reading it. I turn my wifi off at night, but I know I could do with more time away from the computer. I’m on holiday in Austin, Texas right now, and spending time just wandering the streets has been lovely. I need to do more of that in my day to day!

    • Hi Ellen,

      How wonderful you’re having a vacation and wandering around! I think there’s great value in bringing that quality of wandering around into our regular life. Although I live in a small place so there aren’t too many new areas to wander to, but still each wandering can be a new experience. I could just wander around our tiny orchard and I’m sure I would be fulfilled with interesting new discoveries all the time. Thanks for sharing this, Ellen. I’m sure we could all use more wandering in our life.

      That’s so smart to turn the W-Fi off at night. I’m onto these things now!

  5. Sandra, getting the balance is the challenge. I relate closely to what you are saying especially about the computer- I have a himalayan crystal light on my deck and use a variety of crystals to help with the radiation. I have a plan to stand up every hour and move the body, and drink more water. I would find it hard to be online less as this is where my community is right now. I have been taking more me time and that brings more balance=peace for me. I think how we start out day is crucial to the peace we feel and know am am so blessed that i live near the beach and walk on the beach daily and swim in the sea- this has been the best move we made away from the city life. Have just been sitting in the sun planning with Des- away from computer – magic love Suzie xxoo

    • Hi Suzie,

      It’s really good to hear what you do to help with the computer radiation. Your other plans are also fabulous. I know what you mean about your community being online! I feel the same way.

      I’m so glad you’re able to spend time in and near the water. I try to do that as well. We’re so lucky to have a warm pond nearby to us. We haven’t been able to go as often the last month, but we’re getting back into the groove.

      I love that image of you with Des sitting in the sun!

  6. It is interesting to think about the impact that technology has on us. I love spending time away from the computer and do want to be sure that life doesn’t pass me by, while I’m behind a screen. This is a wonderful reminder that we need to check in with ourselves from time to time, so that we have clarity about what is really important in our lives and we spend time doing that. This is very inspirational, thank you Sandra!

    • You’re welcome, Cathy. Thanks for your appreciative words. It’s all about balance and awareness isn’t it. I too find it helpful to have reminders from time to time! I appreciate your aspiration to stay aligned with what’s really important in your life.

  7. OMG Sandra, Please dont go cold turkey and disappear on us!! My online world would be empty without your smile….
    And I often tell my daughter, who is So into the tab, the computer etc etc…that baby we played outside more than inside when we were yournger and we didnt have tabs or cell phones. We had board games and tree climbing. She responds back with, “ma, I do go out to play, but I still wanna play on my tab too! You sure lived in medieval times!” Ha…and I laugh and laugh. It might seem medieval to some, but I’m perfectly happy without gadgets. While I love love love my online time and the connection, I crave solitude. The secret introvert in me craves it. So, just to massage and allow my inner introvert, I take atleast 2 hours just to myself. I wake up early for that…I pray, meditate, go for a nature walk, do yoga, write in my journal etc. The day I dont do that to nourish me….oh, I can feel the inner bases shifting.
    But for some cold turkey offline helps, like Robin. But I miss her presence online. As I’ll miss you too….So dare you go anywhere! Consider yourself warned 😉
    Much Love,
    Z~

    • Oh dear Zeenat, I’m not planning on going cold turkey. My connection with you and others here is too important to me. I do miss Robin too! Remember those days? So many people have come and gone. Life is impermanent, for sure. But I’m so happy to have my long-time connection with you and few other “oldies” still intact.

      Your conversation with your daughter is so interesting. I guess this is our version of the “generation gap!” I love how you take care of yourself. I love days when I linger in the morning like that!

      I promise, I’m not going anywhere now. I’d miss you too!

  8. I feel so much more at ease when traveling and leaving technology behind. I would do it everyday if I could. Great Post!

  9. It seems that we were on the same wavelength as I just posted about the same topic. In addition to my blog, my day job requires me to be on the computer much of the day so completely unplugging would be impossible for me. I’ve found that simply taking the time to sit outside and have a snack or cup of tea is all I need to reset my nerves. We live in the Rocky Mountains, miles from the nearest town so getting out in nature is as simple as walking out the door but not always easy, given my propensity to “get one more thing done” in the house. I’ve found that completely unplugging on one or two days of the weekend while I focus on being with my family and caring for myself does a world of good. Love your perspective Sandra!

    • How wonderful that you live in the Rocky Mountains and can step out the door into nature, Paige. I’m so happy for you! This is a great solution if you have to online all day. We’re turning our wi-fi off when we go to bed at night, that might be something you’d like to try too if you have it at home.

      I understand that propensity to get one more thing done! It takes courage to unplug 1 or 2 days a week. You’re inspiring me!

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