You can feel the energy of Spring: building, persistent, energetic, bold, lusty, exhilarating… and exhausting. How do the plants do it? After this big surge of energy, how do they recoup? This level of energy can’t be maintained for the long run. They’ve got flowers to produce, seeds to spread (or runners, rhizomes, tubers, etc.), insects and diseases to fight.
I think one of their super powers is their ability, for the most part, to go dormant when conditions get overwhelming or not sustainable. When they go dormant, they’re in this place where they’re aware of conditions and will open back up for business when conditions are better. You could say they are minding their reserves and waiting for a better opportunity.
Think of the recent rains in California which resulted in acres of blooming plants in areas that were “barren”. Not barren, just napping really, until the moisture level rose. Suddenly they burst into bloom, reproduced and went back to a dormant state.
Some live in such a fragile environment even small changes cause stress and when the specific conditions aren’t maintained, they die out. Either because they had been slowly stressed for so long that there were no reserves to draw upon or the changes were so rapid it overwhelmed their ability to adapt. Adaption takes time. There are so many time lines in this world, so many mini universes we interact with, yet we think we’re the only ones to experience “true” stress.
One Foot on the Gas, One Foot on the Brake
We talk about human adaptability to change over time. How much change can we undertake without falling apart? I think the answer lies with perception. The brain perceives something to be stressful, the stress hormones get released and our body shifts into action, even if it’s only standing in place. Sort of like one foot on the gas pedal and the other on the brake. We don’t pay attention to the physical signs that we are close to overload and need to change our habits/work/mindset NOW. It’s the disconnect between wanting to do more and being capable of doing more. The brain races ever onward.
A Culture of Doing
A lot of this is influenced by our culture of doing. We have computers, so we can do MORE. We want robots and drones so we can do MORE. The flip side is “You don’t want to be considered a slackard, do you?” Underlying emotion: shame. The shame of you’re not holding up your end of the workload. Shame is one of many stressors. The mindset is one of “It’s good to want more constantly. Drive, push.” It reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode where the man keeps replaying his boss saying “Push, push Mr. Roberson. Push, push!” There are times when we need to muster an intense response and draw upon our reserves to meet the challenge. Yet, it’s equally necessary to follow this with a period of rebuilding and rest to replenish our inner sources.
Building Resiliency and Neuroplasticity
There are many wonderful herbs that can help build resiliency to stress. They work best if one is also actively taking the time to change habits, diet, environment or whatever is feeding the stress response. Otherwise, you can get a sense of feeling better while continuing to overload your plate and deplete your reserves. Things such as yoga, meditation, walking in nature, breathing exercises, nourishing foods and the Tapping technique can help. However, the biggest challenge surrounding stress is perception and that ties into the thought patterns wired into our brain. These patterns of thoughts can either lead us to a more relaxed view or further tie us up in knots.
When we did the ReBoot program 2 months ago (a 10-day food challenge course that will be offered again in September), we briefly talked about the brain and neuroplasticity and how our brains form, over time, certain thought patterns. This was in response to food cravings and how to interpret what they may really be signaling, but it can be applied to anything. These well-worn mental pathways may have served a purpose at one time, but they no longer serve in a good way and can entrap us in treating the present through the lens of the past.
Retraining the Brain
This can be changed. I’m excited to partner with Cynthia Moore, MS, RD, CDE in providing a training in repatterning your brain called Nourishing Resilience, starting in two weeks. The introduction to the course is being offered next week, either Tuesday or Thursday evenings, to give you an overview of what it will cover and learn two key skills.
The energy of Spring is intense and, as the plants, requires a change of pace. We too can bloom, make seeds and fight off “bugs”. This class could be your opportunity to set a new pace for yourself, one that supports and doesn’t exhaust. See you there!