I came close to burnout a few years ago. The only thing that saved me was that I knew I was entering into a full year sabbatical in my academic work. At the start of that year, I took a few days away to camp with my dear friend Traci (The Writing Journey) and set a plan for the year. I pulled out a blank journal to brainstorm. I made a long list of project ideas. The one that stood out was “I have a nervous system”.
We laughed out loud at this one, because up until that point I don’t think I had been paying much attention to the fact that my body even had a nervous system. This title became the focus of my one year sabbatical and guided my life into new directions and discoveries. It took a lot of years of ignoring signs from my nervous system to start to connect deeply with what it means to care for the one & only body that I was living in. It was easier to ignore these signs than to understand how my nervous system worked and what it needed. Awareness is powerful medicine.
This summer, I removed the notifications on my phone so that I could have more time in my day for writing and creative practice. I followed this beautiful protocol and then added in one notification - my afternoon “Nervous System Reset”. Sometimes I only have a few minutes for the reset in between meetings, other days I give it a full 45 minutes of Yoga Nidra. My nervous system reset practice has been an incredible gift to myself and to my energy levels through the afternoon.
If you have not yet heard about Non Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR) or Yoga Nidra take some time to read about the benefits online. You may have other practices that reset your nervous system - this one definitely works for me. I was lucky to take a week-long retreat with Kelly Boys at Esalen and I definitely recommend her Yoga Nidra on youtube. It's free and transformative and I’ll write more about it in another post.
It would be amazing if schools helped kids understand their own nervous systems. The stress of daily life can be really intense - we can’t get rid of stress so we need daily practices to get out of the stress cycle. What practices help you get into a parasympathetic state where you can rest and digest?
Photo taken at Esalen