Do you like riding Roller Coasters?
I admit it – I love roller coasters and I have since I was a kid. The absolute thrill and adrenaline rush of the momentary uncertainty facing the wild unknown. The ups and downs combined with speed and curves create the thrills – the unexpected – the screams and the excitement of putting myself into an uncontrollable (yet controlled) environment.
Life has it’s own ups and downs – they are normal. I often wonder if my adventurous, roller coaster-riding nature was a precursor – a kind of foreboding – preparing me for the reality of a life consumed with uncertainty and twists and turns in the road.
So many times, especially younger, I fought the reality of life trying to manage it all to stay in the higher emotions. Worked tirelessly to control and avoid the rocky reality of living. Looking back, I know now that this focussed behaviour ended up stressing me physically and emotionally aggravating my health.
On a great roller coaster there’s always the anticipation and expenctancy of being scared and pushing the adrenaline rush to the edge by choice. It’s a tactical way to live on the edge in an environment that won’t last forever. And, in that type of situation, the adrenaline coursing through the body can be corrosive and damaging to your nervous system if it isn’t balanced and dissipated.
Building resiliency in our body, mind and spirit takes practice and a willingness to live consciously in the realities of this life acknowledging all of it, not just the highs. When you are fighting life’s natural flow, you are actually stimulating a stress response in your body, making it even more challenging to create optimal health, to find calm or to slow down.
Sitting here today, looking back over the Theme Park of my life, it’s easy to see and assess the roller coaster rides I’ve taken. In the throws of living day to day, with little awareness, life seemed fair and unfair – sometimes at the same time. I found myself trying to control situations and relationships to reduce my anxiety and calm the ride from mountains and valleys to rolling hills. My strategies were often less than optimal and sometimes damaging to myself and my relationships.
When life is stressful and busy, whether we create the scenario or it shows up for us, the Sympathetic Nervous System allows our body to cope and meet life’s demands by increasing our heart rate, raising our blood pressure, dilating the lungs, and preparing us to take action.
As a counter balance, the Parasympathetic Nervous System—via the Vagus Nerve—decreases our heart rate, lowers our blood pressure and allows the body’s energy to focus upon rest, digestion, elimination, and healing.
To build resiliency and opportunity for greater health, we must find ways to build reserves within ourselves to enjoy more of this ride in life.
Here are Some Strategies I use to build resilency in my body and my life:
- Spend time Alone. I make sure I can re-charge my batteries with plenty of downtime. This builds my physical, emotional and spiritual resilency.
- Do some Yoga (or conscious movement). I practice yoga, stretching, fascial release almost everyday. Be consistent. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time – just make it a practice. This can build reserves on all levels of your being.
- Dance (or move) to some uplifting music. I put some 80’s music on or anything I’m in the mood for and I dance around to dissipate some energy and feel wonderful from the inside out. This builds physical and emotional resilency for me.
- Drink lots of water and non-alcoholic beverages. I drink 2 glasses of lemon water upon waking up and then I drink Fruit & Veggie Smoothies everyday – sometimes more than one to hydrate my body.
- Read a good book. I always have 2-5 books on the go so that in the evenings, I can read before bed (limiting the amount of artificial stimulation via screentime or TV).
- Practice Gratitude. I have a practice that when I’m driving, when I see an expensive vehicle, I always say to myself what I am grateful for in my life. It helps me immensely in building reserves that I can tap into as I need it.
Face it, life is going to take you on a ride. You get to choose whether you ‘white knuckle’ your way through holding on for dear life or take some action to build healthy resiliency. By taking steps forward, you let the ride offer you a broader perspective and the potential for a more expansive life experience.
How do you manage your roller coaster ride in life? What strategies work for you?
Roller Coaster Ride lover,