fly, fly, fly!

– fly, fly, fly!

Belle did a great podcast recently where she talked about recognising the word ‘should’. that when it starts tolling in our heads it is a huge warning sign that we are creating unrealistic expectations for ourselves. we should be able to drink moderately, for example. and these ‘shoulds’ can be hugely limiting beliefs that can hobble us, cripple us like the pitiful bound feet of early Chinese women…

I have been battling the usual litany of festive shoulds in the last few days. I managed to contain what I am afraid is my annual festive melt-down to the inside of my own skull, however – there’s a first 😉

and the above image came to me of the flying monkeys setting off. it always gave me the shivers, with its air of menace and darkness…. that’s how I feel about the rapidly multiplying and varying expectations that I am imposing, at the end of the day, upon myself.

each expectation, when viewed singly, looks faintly ludicrous. that fez – really?

it is when they act in concert that they find their full power to sweep me off my feet and carry me away.

here are some instant I’ve been finding helpful in the ongoing battle against the Flying Should Monkeys:

firstly, if possible, doing a temporary geographic. taking myself out of the stressful scenario for a few minutes.

secondly, while absent, using breathing techniques to engage the power of the ‘stress brake’ of the parasympathetic nervous system and to dampen the production of stress hormones. this article says:

‘Rapid breathing is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. It’s part of the “fight or flight” response — the part activated by stress.

In contrast, slow, deep breathing actually stimulates the opposing parasympathetic reaction — the one that calms us down.

The relaxation response is controlled by another set of nerves — the main nerve being the Vagus nerve. Think of a car throttling down the highway at 120 miles an hour. That’s the stress response, and the Vagus nerve is the brake. When you are stressed, you have your foot on the gas, pedal to the floor. When you take slow, deep breaths, that is what is engaging the brake.’ 

there are a wide variety of breathing techniques. I use one recommended by Brené Brown – the square breath. there’s a really nice article about it here, with ways to teach it to children, which I may try on my own high-strung descendants at some point!

in this you inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, hold again for a count of 4. this advantage of this is that – unlike some techniques like nostril breathing – it is invisible, so you can do it in front of others.

and I have just realised while typing this another significant advantage of the technique – you CANNOT SPEAK WHILE DOING IT 🙂 which on its own might keep me out of all sorts of trouble 😉

and thirdly, by harnessing the power of our sense of smell upon our brains and to affect our emotions. this article says:

‘Our olfactory receptors are directly connected to the limbic system, the most ancient and primitive part of the brain, which is thought to be the seat of emotion. Smell sensations are relayed to the cortex, where ‘cognitive’ recognition occurs, only after the deepest parts of our brains have been stimulated. Thus, by the time we correctly name a particular scent as, for example, ‘vanilla’ , the scent has already activated the limbic system, triggering more deep-seated emotional responses.’

I use a single drop of lavender essential oil, rub it between my palms, and then cup my hands over my face and inhale deeply for a few moments. this technique also has the advantages of removing me from the vicinity of a stressful situation, and also, again, I cannot yell at anyone else while doing it!

more another time perhaps about post-emergency measures. one of the things I WANT to do at the moment – rather than thinking I SHOULD do – is answer comments on my blog. I love comments and answering them so am really wanting to make that a priority. here’s the clip from the film. enjoy – and don’t let those Flying Should Monkeys carry you away in the next few days! Prim xx