With today’s stresses being multiple, constant and prolonged, it is quite easy to loose your cool, which unfortunately just makes any situation worse. I call it “short fuse syndrome.” So how can you keep your cool and “lengthen your fuse” during times of strife, such as your commute in terrible traffic, dealing with angry clients or terrible customer service agents, handling aggressive co-workers or fussy family members?
Believe it or not, the answer is in your brain. Yes, your brain! Your automatic nervous system controls how your heart, stomach, and intestines function. It’s divided into three parts, the sympathetic nervous system, which reacts to stress; the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you relax; and the entire nervous system, a network of nerve fibers.
The sympathetic nervous system controls our response to the multiple, constant and prolonged stressors we deal within our society, including the “fight or flight” response. The parasympathetic nervous system rules our ability to rest, relax and repair. These days, the imbalance in the activity of these two parts means that the sympathetic part of your brain is getting way too much action, and the parasympathetic part is being completely left in the dust. However, you can successfully balance this situation out by purposefully engaging in powerful parasympathetic behavior (PB). PB is different for everyone. It is that person, place or thing that helps you unburden. For some people it is taking a bath; for others, it is spending time with their grandchildren. I love to be outdoors near any type of wildlife. The key is to expose yourself daily to calming things and situations.I have noticed that in order to do break this cycle and work towards creating a balanced nervous system and therefore longer fuse, it isn’t the quantity of time you spend in PB, but the quality and consistency.
I have a patient who lives on the West Coast but works on the East Coast. Every morning, when he turned on his computer, he was greeted with three hours of work, due to the time difference, and it was making him a stress case. So we initiated a “power pause” for his PB. Now, each morning before he turns on his computer, he stops, breathes deeply, reflects on his gratitude and purpose, reminds himself of what is really important and centers himself for his day. He started out doing this for only three minutes at first, but he is now up to 20. He does it daily, and he reports that it has helped him in all stressful situations, because he feels more in “control.” WOW! I love that! It doesn’t take long to have the powerful parasympathetic part of your nervous system activated again to help you grow your fuse, balance your brain and keep your cool!
About the author
Dr. Holly Lucille, ND,RN a.k.a. “Dr. Holly,” is a nationally recognized and licensed naturopathic doctor, educator, natural products consultant and television host. An acclaimed expert in the field of integrative medicine, Dr. Holly lectures throughout the nation on a variety of natural health topics.