Exhausted to Energized

In the spirit of a new year and all those resolutions and good intentions, and my first blog of 2017, I thought I would give a shout out to Dr Libby Weaver and her book “Exhausted to Energized”.  It is not her latest book (published in 2015), however, it touches on issues I believe are extremely relevant to those of you interested in all things massage, aromatherapy and yoga. Now I have to confess to a giant girl crush on Dr Libby; she is able to explain all the chemical and biological goings-on in the body in an extremely understandable way.  In addition, she highlights the emotional component of hormonal imbalance, illness and weight issues; acknowledging that if this component is not dealt with, then one never gets to the heart of what is causing the issue.  The body and emotions are not separate entities; rather they are interdependent components of the same organism (you).

In “Exhausted to Energized” Dr Libby likens energy to currency, explaining how we are born with a certain amount gifted to us from the joining of our parents at a cellular level and then we will either make deposits or withdrawals into our “energy account” depending on our activities, diet and so on. She warns that too many people do not respect their innate biological needs and survive on little sleep, exercise, fresh air or fresh food, in addition to constant exposure to mental and emotional stress.  This behaviour, of course, does not lead to a consistent, boundless supply of energy; instead many people are dragging themselves out of bed and remain sluggish until they crawl into bed exhausted at night or are “tired but wired”, hopped up on adrenaline then unable to sleep at night.  Compassionately she urges people to view their tiredness and erratic energy levels as the body sending us a message, encouraging us to ask the question about why we feel this way.  We don’t know the answer if the question never gets asks.  

If energy is an issue for you (and I believe it is for many of us), I urge you to read this book.  I am positive you will have at least one “light bulb moment” that will illuminate something that is affecting you on an energetic level. Whether it is dehydration, a nutritional deficiency, a relationship that is draining, poor sleep hygiene or unresolved emotions, there is a chapter for you.  

One of my personal favourites is in the chapter about the adrenal glands and the intimate connection to the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). Modern life sees many of us in a constant state of “flight, fright or flight” which engages the sympathetic arm of the ANS – we are ready to run from that tiger and, physiologically speaking, our body indulges us by directing blood and oxygen to our extremities and away from the digestive organs.  That is great from a survival perspective, however, nowadays we are not running from a wild beast and we are not stopping to rest after we have run away from the beast. Oftentimes when people are in this state it is because of their perceptions.  For example driving to work there is heavy traffic and we imagine we are going to be late and we feel panicked, then we can’t find a carpark, more panic ensues.  We reach our desk and open the computer and see a huge number of emails in our inbox and feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume then a client wants a project done in an unrealistic timeframe, producing, even more, overwhelm, By this stage we need a coffee to help us think clearly so we indulge our caffeine habit which also stimulates the sympathetic nervous system.  Hell, it’s not even 10am and we have worked ourselves into a frenzy and will quite possibly stay there until we get home and collapse on the couch.  The other branch of the ANS, the parasympathetic nervous system (rest, digest and repair) has not so much had a look in all day, and this is the pattern of many people’s lives, day in, day out.   So instead of moving between the sympathetic branch and parasympathetic branch like gentle waves on a graph, the graph pattern would look more like a giant mountain with a steep crash at the end.  When the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system is not engaged enough and all our energy goes toward survival then we open ourselves up to a host of ailments such as skin complaints, muscular aches and pains, digestive disorders, hormonal imbalance, sleep and mood disturbances.  

If this is ringing some bells for you then Dr Libby offers many practical solutions.  One suggestion she has is so simple it is off the charts ridiculous! As a yoga teacher I love it – diaphragmatic breathing.  Beautiful deep diaphragmatic breathing is safe, free, does not require any fancy equipment and anyone can indulge regardless of age, gender, experience or abilities.  I will quote the good doctor here:  “Breathing is the only way we can consciously affect our ANS… We cannot control our ANS with our thoughts, we cannot instruct it with what to do.  How we breathe is our only road in there.”  For me that it such a profound sentence; in my line of work I often meet people who really beat themselves up for feeling “stressed” and cannot understand why they have a constant feeling of doom in the pit of their stomach or over-react to some daily interaction, or they dismiss the impact that low level but constant stress has on their health because it is “normal”.  How we live is so at odds with what is optimal for us biologically speaking it becomes quite a mammoth task to get this in check, yet a simple thing like breathing deeply and slowly into our belly can allow us to change the pattern on that crazy looking graph to a more modulated, consistent one.  

How we live is so at odds with what is optimal for us biologically speaking it becomes quite a mammoth task to get this in check, yet a simple thing like breathing deeply and slowly into our belly can allow us to change the pattern on that crazy looking graph to a more modulated, consistent one.  

 

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