Exhausted Beyond Physical Rest
By Carla Friesen
(Licensed Psychotherapist, Pain Coach, Life Coach, Teacher)
We are exhausted and overwhelmed. Our bodies are tired. And somehow, relaxing doesn’t seem to fix it. Physical rest doesn’t seem to be the answer our bodies are looking for. Our exhaustion goes deeper
Our bodies keep pushing us to rest. Sending us pain. Sending flare-ups. Sending anxiety. Sending new symptoms. But physical rest (no matter how long we lay in bed) doesn’t seem to be the remedy to our pain, overwhelm, and exhaustion.
How is it that Greta used to lay in bed 24/7 with pain and she was still tired every day. She laid in bed so much that it became difficult for her to hold her head up for very long because her neck muscles had grown so weak!!! Physical rest was not the answer. Physical rest IS usually the solution for short term pain (cut finger, broken wrist) but not for chronic pain (pain that lasts longer than 3 months).
That is because the rest our bodies are yearning for goes deeper than physical rest. We can rest physically, but our nervous systems are still firing. Lying in bed watching tv or looking at our phones. Scrolling. Swiping. Liking. Fast forwarding. Even when we sleep at night our nervous systems can still be alert. Greta says she even had constant migraines in her dreams!
There are things that we can do for self-care:
Going for a walk
Having a bath
Putting lotion on
Listening to nice music
Reading a book
Having time alone.
However, these only scratch the surface of the deep rest our nervous systems are yearning for. They are definitely worth doing and they can help for the moment. But they are like a first aid treatment for stress. They rarely offer the deep rest and nourishment that our nervous systems are craving.
If chronic pain is a result of a nervous system on the fritz sending pain signals when there is no tissue damage. Then the answer to chronic pain rehabilitation also lies in healing and nourishing the nervous system.
So how do we give our nervous systems the deep rest they need to heal? How do we ease them out of fight or flight mode? How do we help to repair the neural wiring and calm the brain?
The answer is simple. But it isn’t easy.
The answer is daily, consistent pointed practices to ease the nervous system.
It sounds easy. So why isn’t it?
Because somehow we resist consistency. It takes effort. And it isn’t exciting. And we don’t get fast results. So we would rather wait for the next magic pill. Our frantic minds resist the calm and consistency that our nervous systems are craving.
This month I am going to focus my posts on the nervous system and practices to nourish it.