January 28 Book Marketing Tip: Listen to your body!
I am not a science gal. Shocking admission, I know. In college, I fulfilled my requirement for 3 science courses with two semesters of astronomy (good choice in Tucson, as the University of Arizona is home to the Steward Observatory) and one semester of environmental biology.
Everything else I know about science I’ve pretty much picked up through reading, surfing the Internet, and watching documentaries. In my self-taught learning, I’ve discovered that science is much more interesting than I realized in my teens and 20s. OK, so I’m a slow learner at some things.
One thing I’ve discovered over the years is the role of the autonomic nervous system. Now in case you’re science challenged like I am, I’m going to try to make this as simple as possible. The autonomic nervous system controls the function of the body’s internal organs — things like heart function, digestion, respiration, perspiration, eye function, and many other routine bodily functions. The autonomic nervous system is comprised of two subsystems: the parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system controls what we know as the “fight-or-flight” response, while the parasympathetic nervous system allows for relaxed activities like digestion and food absorption.
Under normal circumstances, the two work together so that our organs function properly and we can perform the actions that daily living requires (eating, breathing, sleeping, moving, etc.). A shift in this balance occurs when the body becomes stressed. Frightening or emergency situations cause sympathetic nervous system to take over, causing an increase in heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels, preparing us for quick, strenuous action. Once the emergency has passed, the parasympathetic system takes control, decreasing our heart and breathing rates, and diverting blood supply back to routine activities.
The thing is, in today’s over-connected world, we’re receiving near-constant stimulation, so much so that our bodies don’t ever fully recover to regain proper balance between these two systems. Think about you to-do list. Even if you don’t make a written task list every day, the myriad thoughts still run through your head:
- I’ve got to finish editing my second draft.
- Need to go to the grocery store.
- Three more blog posts till I finish the Ultimate Blog Challenge.
- Gotta update my book marketing plan.
- The kids have a field trip tomorrow.
- Don’t forget to call Sandra back about that speaking engagement.
And on and on. And now, with our Smartphones, we’re almost never disconnected. We carry our contact lists, email, and social media with us everywhere. It’s almost as if we’re worried that if we just set the phone down or — gasp — turn it off for a minute, we might miss something.
Here’s a little experiment. Stop reading this post. Sit back in your chair, feet flat on the floor and hands in a relaxed position. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath that fills your belly with air. Exhale slowly. Do it again. And one more time. Go ahead — do it now.
Did you notice anything during this tiny, little breathing exercise? Did you notice anything when you opened your eyes? Maybe there was a tightness in your jaw you hadn’t even realized was there. Maybe you feel more clear-headed now. Perhaps you’re just a little more relaxed, like all those things on you to-do list have stopped bombarding you, at least momentarily.
Our bodies are magnificent machines that are designed to give us clues when they’re not functioning optimally. Regardless of how much you have going on in your life, you aren’t working to your best ability if you never give your parasympathetic nervous system a chance to engage so you can calm down and relax. Meditation works. A walk around the block works. Just getting up and stretching once an hour works. Find the method that’s right for you, and incorporate it regularly. You’ll be amazed at how much more centered, at peace, and ultimately productive you become.
There are lots of charts and sites out there to give you a fuller explanation. Just Google autonomic nervous system.
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