How to Rest and Digest Like a Boss

focus May 28, 2020

Today I will take you back to science class. Don’t worry, we won’t dissect anything. The smell of formaldehyde still brings back images of large toads and awkward safety goggles.

Just a brief lesson on the autonomic nervous system and how it regulates our internal organs.  This system has two sets of nerves, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.  

The sympathetic nervous system regulates the fight-or-flight response. When you are working from home and the kids fight in the next room, you lose focus on responding to that email.  Your heart pounds and all you want to do is jump out of your chair and run down the hall to scream at your kids.  That’s your fight-or-flight response in action.

Now picture yourself at the beach.  You’re lounging with your toes in the sand.  Feeling relaxed listening to the waves crash and watching your kids play happily building sandcastles.  This state of bliss is your parasympathetic nervous system at work.

Turn up the bliss

Operating in stress mode all the time will do some damage to your body.  You need to flip the switch.  Here are some ways to get started:


  1. Tune into how you feel.  The next time you feel that familiar tightness in your shoulders, stop and take notice.  What’s happening at that moment?  Did you just say yes to an impossible deadline at work?  What can you do to change that?  And if you can’t change anything, just the act of stopping and taking a few breaths will fight the onset of stress.
  2. Break out the Carmex.  The parasympathetic nervous system fibers pass through your lips so a quick way to activate your bliss is to rub your fingers across them.  Make sure your hands are clean.  It’s just common sense, pandemic or not.
  3. Just breathe.  You knew this one was coming.  Even your apple watch taps you every so often to remind you to breathe.  Next time pay attention.  It may just give you that extra focus to get that chapter written you keep putting off.
  4. Connect with someone.  We are social beings (that’s why all of this quarantine is so hard).  I love being alone, but a phone call with a best friend is magical.  When you can’t connect with others and the flood of stress comes,  take time for yourself.  There you go... an excuse to get out on that run.  This time just leave the headphones at home and listen to what’s going on inside.
  5. Time to slay the demon that’s keeping you up at night.  Your body can’t rest with an anxious mind.  Exhaustion might take you to dreamland halfway through Outlander, but when you relax and your brain processes those anxious thoughts HELLO insomnia.  I’m not a doctor but meditation, journaling, and exercise have taken the edge off of my anxious thoughts.  I’ve battled some big demons in this last year and have had to call in the big guns AKA therapist.  It’s hard to admit when your worries have grown bigger than you can handle.  
  6. Eat well and drink water. The better fuel you put into your body the better outcomes.  That goes for your nervous system too.


Class dismissed!  What’s your favorite way to get out of stress mode?  Share with me in the comments below.

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