The holidays are here! And whether we love them or hate them, or some combination of the two, the holidays always guarantee a lot of activity and a lot of nervous system activation – excitement around social events to irritability from being overscheduled.
If you find yourself overreacting (over-activating) to things that don’t normally bother you or saying things like “I never get sick” while you’re fighting a cold, it’s an indicator that you’ve pushed past your mental and emotional limits and have depleted your inner resources.
Our inner resources dictate our ability to be resilient in the face of both positive and negative stressors. The more depleted we are, the less resilient we are, and the more likely we are to lose our tempers, fall into depression, or get sick.
We deplete our inner resources via the obvious ways like working too much without breaks, not sleeping enough, or drinking more than we probably should. But our inner resources can be equally depleted by the mental load we carry when we’re dealing with family stress, a fight with a spouse, pressing deadlines, or anything else that takes up a lot of mental space.
Stress of any kind takes a heavy energetic toll on our bodies and diverts resources away from our overall health towards whatever the stressor is. The more our stressors build, the less resilient we are.
We can pay attention to and build our inner resources via our interoception, and then acting on that information. If you feel hungry, take the time to eat. Or take a mini moment of mindfulness which takes us into a natural mental resting state. Or saying no to a commitment if we can.
We can also plan accordingly, preemptively building our inner resources when we have a hard stretch coming up. I have events after work every night next week. Since I know I won’t be getting enough sleep and will be drinking more than usual, I’m taking extra care of myself this week. I know if I go into next week already running on empty, chances are good I’ll get sick or I’ll spend the week fighting off tears because I don’t have the emotional stamina to make it through a work day.
When we plan for and pay attention to our inner resources, we build an inner savings account of energy, focus, and immunity. We can draw on these inner reserves to pull a few all-nighters to finish an investor pitch or set-up a holiday shop. We can push through feeling tired to attend an important client event. We can even ignore working out and eating well for pretty long stretches of time before our health will suffer.
But only if we have a deep well of inner resources to compensate. Start paying attention to your schedule and future demands of your energy and time and plan accordingly. If you know you have a hard conversation with an employee tomorrow, eat a good meal today. Sit in silence and let your mind wander for 5 minutes to bring in natural states of rest. It all adds up.
The body leads the mind.
Cheers to better living