We all take on more than we can handle sometimes. However, it’s important to recognize the signs your body’s in overload so you can take the proper steps to reduce it. Michaela Boehm, author of THE WILD WOMAN’S WAY, explains how to recognize this stress and then how to resolve it with some helpful methods.
Overload, as the word describes perfectly, is when our system experiences “too much” and can no longer process or cope with the excess stimulus. The toll on our system produces a similar physiological response to that of stress.
The source of the “too much” can be external, which is common in this busy world; e-mails, phone calls, texts, social media, exposure to noise, traffic, and crowds are all a daily occurrence for most of us.
The sense of “too much” also comes from an internal source; excess thinking or emotional drama and any kind of internal loop in your mind all contribute to the state of overwhelm. This is particularly true when you are working while sitting still. Because you park your body, all the energy goes toward mental activity. By definition, you are disembodied, meaning you are not paying attention to the signals your body sends.
This excess stimulation leads to all the bodily energy going upward toward the head. This leads to a number of disembodying factors and symptoms:
- Tight neck, tight shoulders, clenched jaw, and headaches
- Contracted pelvic floor, tension in the genitals, and tension in the layers of the pelvic bowl
- Tight buttocks and thighs
- Tension in the belly
- Tension in the breath or shallow breathing in the upper chest, which signals the body to adopt a panic response
When the overload is ongoing, it can lead to heightened pulse, higher blood pressure, and chronic tension. With too much noise, the signals of our body are drowned out. (The signals are always there—you just can’t hear them.)
You might have had the experience of not paying attention to your body during high-input, high-stress times and feeling basically fine. Then, when you rest or perhaps even get a massage, you are suddenly aching and tense. The fact is, you felt like this all along but could not feel it, as you were numb to the messages of your body.
When we are brought back in touch with the signals of our body, the sensations are often heightened because suddenly they are front and center.
Tension, stress, overload, and anxiety responses cause specific coping patterns in the body that are different for each person. Those particular neuromuscular patterns form an armor, a layer of tension in the body that, over time, becomes chronic and creates a permanent barrier to embodiment.
The ultimate remedy to overload is obviously to reduce the stimuli, both external and internal. Certain inflow can’t be stopped, since we live in a communal environment, but there are some easy reductions that can be made:
- Reducing our time on e-mail, computer, and phone
- Limiting our social media engagement
- Turning off the TV running in the background
- Driving in silence instead of listening to the radio
- Reducing mental chatter and emotional upheaval by learning mindfulness techniques
- Engaging in somatic processes that release pent-up emotions
Small changes that accumulate over time will make a substantial difference in your system.
For more advice on how to recognize when your body’s in overload pick up a copy of THE WILD WOMAN’S WAY by Michaela Boehm.
Also from Tips on Life & Love: 7 Creative Ways to Help You Stress Less
Excerpted from The Wild Woman’s Way by Michaela Boehm. Copyright © 2018 by Michaela Boehm. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.