The average person spends 70% of its time in the fight or flight mode. In this mode, your immune system is suppressed to gather all your strength to either fight, hide or escape from imminent danger. To recover you need to learn to recognise your stress response and calm your nervous system.
Thousands of years ago, the stress response of the nervous system was only activated for short dangerous events. Because society was calm and people lived connected in tribes, the nervous system was able to switch back quickly to the state of calmness. In our society however, we have learnt to suppress our own needs and to compete with each other constantly. Our movies, jobs and sport activities are extreme and the global population is addicted to their stress hormones. We would even create stress in order for our addiction to continue. Being stuck in the fight or flight mode will drain you and your adrenals. Learning to calm down however will boost your adrenals faster than you might expect.
In the state of stress, you will feel a higher heart-rate, agitated, in need of distractions, scrolling on social media, watching action movies, thinking very analytically, and having negative thoughts about life and yourself. This is what we need to change. Calm yourself down in every possible way. Connect with your body, even with the symptoms. Stop resisting your body and how you feel. Merge with it and check if your heart-rate gets lower.
One of the ways you can calm down the nervous system is by applying neuroplasticity or rewiring the brain.
The process of neuroplasticity, or rewiring the brain, is a proven method to rapidly increase performance and also to stop a negative cycle in the early stages. I already explained what neuroplasticity is under the healing tab of the four components of ME/CFS. In short, via active imagination we can let our brain release the same chemicals as if such an event is really happening.
Drastically do the opposite
In order to heal we need the body to drastically do the opposite of what it is currently doing. Initial symptoms can be psychosomatic, when those emotions are released, the body might get chronically stressed. In order to close the well of horror (stuck and old emotions), we can use neuroplasticity to distract ourselves from our current situation and build a better one. Emotional healing is really important as it makes you e.g. more aware of your boundaries and what you truly want from your life. At the same time, trauma release is exhausting and the body can stay stuck in the shock of overwhelming feelings.
Adrenaline and cortisol junkies
Via this and numerous other reasons can the body be stuck in ‘fight or flight mode’. This mode is also highly addictive and we can call people with ME/CFS real adrenaline and cortisol junkies. Even when you have improved a little, is it still likely for you to seek the state of adrenaline and cortisol again and again. To imagine the healing state with neuroplasticity, we have to be aware first of the stress mode, so you can actively choose to build other neuro-pathways.
Recognise the stress response
In the state of stress you are hyper-aware of your thinking. Clear thinking to figure out solutions is necessary. You won’t be having joy or being able to let go. You lose the connection with your body and feel like a walking head. Before you are completely drained by it, more energy goes to the muscles, but in that stage you won’t be having chronic fatigue yet. You will feel restless, rushed and agitated, in need of distractions and probably have sleep issues. You have the urge of making strong theories and concepts to explain life and are probably making up very convincing stories. For many this is the normal state they would want to go back to, please don’t.
After neuroplasticity has done its job the wrong way (feeling worse and worse) You just feel crap, it is your automatic state. Maybe you don’t even notice the stress signals, because your body is completely wired. In neuroplasticity, they teach that neural pathways are like highways. The more you drive on it, the bigger the road gets. In order to reverse this process, you will need to start driving on different roads, the gravel road. It is going to be bumpy in the beginning.
Using the ‘stop!’
When you realise that you are not driving the right road, you have to give yourself a “stop”! This can be an abrupt and energetic stop or a calm Buddha stop. It is important to use the stop in a way that you would like to feel. In the case of stress this is usually a very calm stop. You breathe in deeply and breathe out all at once. You know that you are on this pathway and that you are very good at driving it. You have become a specialist of that particular road. Now it is however time for a big change. You give yourself some credits for knowing what is going on and the ‘stop’ you have used.
How would you like to feel? Good? Peaceful? Surrounded by friends and family who love you? Looking at a wonderful sunset with your lover? Eating your favorite food with all your attention? All these pleasant experiences that have become memories are available for your imagination. Your brain won’t know the difference between this imagination and real life. You can also create desired situations by combining several pieces of memories. For example, playing football with your future children at a wonderful beach, before you will enjoy a cold beer and watch the sunset while you are laughing and making jokes. Even writing this down already makes me feel better.
Of course you have missed these kinds of experiences for a long time. Remembering it, might make you sad of missing out on these adventures or calm moments. It is key to not drown into sadness now, as that might trigger the old neuro-pathways. Stay at feeling wonderful, calm, happy, joyful, connected, at peace etc. These are powerful memories!
Make the memory alive and keep imagining it, like it would actually happen right now. To whom are you talking, what are you wearing, how does the beach feel on your feet, etc. Imagine these feelings to be represented by a color, what color is it? Now imagine for 10 breaths, that each time you breathe in, this color and the feelings fall over you. In the 7th module of the recovery program I will teach you this technique.
This technique in combination with changing belief systems is the main ingredient for lots of courses that help people improve or recover. Think about the Lightning process, ANS rewire, DNRS, etc. It brings fast results and if the root cause of being in a chronic state of stressed has been adressed, it can be enough to recover. In those courses most of the time is being spend on making you believe the importance of the technique in combination with success stories from others.
You can make it yourself even easier and listen to a hypnosis session on youtube. Make sure you can get really calm, alone and undisturbed. Lay down in bed and listen to a recording of your choice through headphones. As you might get calmer and closer to the theta state, this might even be more powerful, it usually also lasts a minimum half an hour. To make it even easier, you can also visit a hypnotherapist. The therapist can use several techniques to access powerful memories and plant them in your unconscious.
Some small things can make a huge change in your mood and thus in neuroplasticity. Think of:
- Opening the curtains and let the light come in
- Getting out of bed into the living room
- Getting dressed
- Sitting in the sun (only for a few minutes if possible)
- Sitting next to a camp fire outside (only for a few minutes if possible)
- Hugging someone else or a pet
Nature, forests, beaches and great people!
My mantra with ME/CFS was, I can be tired everywhere. And as it turned out, having a crash on a beautiful beach or in a hammock in a forest, will make the crash shorter. Enjoy yourself and the environment as much as you can. Personally I don’t enjoy being in bed on my phone. I rather feel awful on a tropical beach. I made this blog about traveling with ME/CFS.
It might feel weird at the beginning, but! Haha I love the ‘but’ over there. It is a different way to get out of focusing on what you don’t want and focus on what you do want. “I am ready to release all the old patterns.” “I am feeling better every day.” “Healing is happening in my life.” Louise Hay and Abraham Hicks will call it ‘raising your vibrations.’ I have been amazed by the results of affirmations in my life. It gets us out of a state of resistance and into alignment.
Change will come.
Using neuroplasticity can have a fast effect on your life. You might notice an effect straight away or within days. It is important to make it a habit and also work on emotional triggers and calming down the nervous system in different ways to speed up even faster. Involving yourself in different activities is also crucial in rewiring the brain. Good luck!
What is peace
Since western society is hard-wired to the state of stress, it is a good thing to imagine a peaceful life. How can life also be? You will over time be able to reduce more and more from your life and slow down.