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Are You "Sucking It Up", or Pausing to Set Boundaries?

Today I'd like to share with you a valuable post from the LinkedIn page of healer & counselor, Jennifer Schaal. Jennifer heads up Inner Peace Psychological Services and Integrative Wellness Center in Cary. In the following post, she invites us to consider something most of us do so reflexively, we may not even consider there are other options: "pushing through" all kinds of health challenges simply because we "must" get on with the day. While it is true that our busy lives often call us to "man up" or "put on our big girl panties" and get on with it, injury or illness can also call us to stop and simply pay attention to the vehicle which is getting us to all those important activities: our body. “Pushing through” calls me to pause and often times, to set a boundary so I can connect with what my body is trying to tell me.

After over 50 years in healthcare, it is very obvious that certain illnesses, such as upper respiratory viruses, are the body's big click of the pause button. COVID-19 has caused us to stop as an entire culture, to re-examine our priorities, to re-align our lives with what is most true for each of us. It is no coincidence that the cold and flu season also hits at one of the busiest times of the year with the holidays and year-end wrap up coming on. In our gotta-be-first-Horatio-Alger-American way of life, we often don't even consider the option of slowing down, smelling the roses, dialing down dreams and aspirations, questions the "have-to's" to allow ourselves to respond to what our bodies might be asking for. We often see health problems as inconveniences or thwarts to getting what we want. And yet, maybe they are simply roots and rocks on the trail which cause us to slow down enough to notice the tiny flowers beside the path. Not the destination, yet a valuable part of the journey.

We often associate "stress" with a mental-emotional sensation and forget that it has very real physical components. The stress hormone cortisol actually lowers our immune system. While this may be necessary in the short term for fight-or-flight, when on-going 24/7, it makes us more vulnerable to infections and chronic diseases. Long-term cortisol and other molecules associated with the stress response also impair memory, weaken bones and even cause ulcers. The raised blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol needed to face or flee a threat are the direct causes of heart disease and stroke. Just as a deer will freeze when it first senses danger, then react with fighting or fleeing, if I pay attention to early signs of something out of balance in my body, I can choose to switch on the parasympathetic rest-digest-repair system and restore my body before the threat becomes so severe it forces me to stop.

And so, I invite you to SCHEDULE in some down time, a place to hono