2: Travel, the gut & a dog !
I woke up last night at 3am with a stomach ache. A stress stomach ache I used to get when I was younger and my mum actually once rescued me from an old boyfriends house. As soon as I got into the car with my mum back then, the stomach ache went away. Immediately. Needless to say we split up.
Last night however it lingered. I had an anxiety dream about traveling long distances on an airplane. Now, I'm not afraid of flying so it's not that, and I've been to many places around the world so why am I seeing signs of anxiety when dreaming about, well a dream holiday?
Dreams can be the brain's way of processing memories and events from our day. So maybe I've been worried about the journey with my son, or maybe the financial aspects? That's to unpick later…
Anxiety is a natural part of life and can manifest itself physically from rapid breathing to abdominal pain and insomnia. When we’re stressed, hormones and neurotransmitters are released in the body which can negatively impact gut motility. Researchers have identified a powerful connection between the gut and the brain. The gut contains the largest area of nerves outside the brain with the digestive tract and the brain sharing many of the same nerve connections.
Although stress is a normal part of life, and impossible to avoid, you can take measures to reduce the stress which is impacting on your stomach or other areas of your body, which I have been personally neglecting this week. Self hypnosis really does keep me balanced!
Breathing, we all breathe wrong. Have you ever read ‘Breath’, the new science of a lost art, by James Nestor? Take time each day to breathe through your nose, placing a hand on your stomach, pushing that hand away so your breath is from deep down. Always make the outbreath longer, this calms you and brings you into the present moment.
Learn the art of saying ‘No’, a handy read would be ‘The art of saying no’ by Damon Zahariades. You simply can't please everybody. Know your limits and boundaries and live by these. It's ok to say No!
Physical exercise such as yoga works wonders for the mind, and therefore decreases stress levels throughout the body. A great read is ‘Spark’ by John Ratey. Personally I like to get into nature and walk. This gives me that much needed serotonin which is the chemical in your body you need to be able to cope day to day and feel on top of things. Your gut actually produces 95% of the serotonin in your body, therefore keeping your stress levels down, will keep those stomach aches away.
Focus on the things you can control, not the things you can't control which for all those Happiful readers out there there was a great activity on this in their number 78 issue.
Talking about the amazing Happiful magazine, I read a great article by Caroline Butterwick saying as brilliant as traveling can be, many of us find it a stressful experience. It can be overwhelming researching a new place, especially when there's so much information out there, combined with nerves about whether we’ll enjoy ourselves, or anxiety about something going wrong. In contrast we largely know what to expect when we return somewhere. But revisiting a favourite place goes beyond dealing with anxiety. “It's the familiarity mostly, we find comfort and a sense of safety in what we already know,” says travel coach Chloe Gosiewksi. “When we go to a new place and all of our senses
are ignited, and we have an exhilarating or relaxing time, we tend to want to recreate that experience again and again. So, for a lot of people their natural instinct is to return to the source of happiness.”
I like to embrace change however, and even though I have doubts, anxieties about traveling for so long and so far with my son in tow, what to do with the dog for a possible 3 week holiday, and not to mention financial worries, I truly believe taking the biggest risks in life reap the biggest rewards. By pushing myself and my family out of our comfort zones we can truly have that adventure we have been waiting for.