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Struggling with Pacing for POTS? Watch This!

The transcript can be found under the video.

You might find yourself struggling with pacing, experiencing good days followed by down periods. On your good days, you might engage in activities like grocery shopping, cooking, or cleaning, but then you feel consequences the next day. You become symptomatic again. Perhaps you have trouble sleeping, which then creates a new cycle. It's like being caught in the vicious cycle you may be familiar with diagrams like this one on my screen that illustrates the boom and bust cycle.

But staying between the pacing zone, as we all know, can be incredibly challenging. So today, I'd like to approach pacing from a different perspective. We have developed various frameworks and formulas around the concept, potentially maybe overcomplicating it. Actually, the danger of intellectualizing pacing too much is that we lose touch with our inner selves, that little voice that kind of knows our energy limits and what is too much or not enough.

So, for the purposes of today, let's simplify it. Let's discuss the art of rest and silence and why these two are so difficult to achieve, considering how much they're lacking in our society.

To begin, let's explore some information. So, activity and energy expenditure occur in various ways. It's not just about physical movement; otherwise, lying in bed would be restful, which we know is not the case. We can also expend energy emotionally and through the information we take in via the senses.

So today, I'd like to focus on one of those senses, and that is noise.

Studies show that moderate levels of noise contribute to a rise in hypertension, cortisol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. Our ancestors benefited from this response as they needed to be on high alert, and thus, they needed these signals to go up. Noise triggered an increase and continues to trigger an increase in stress hormones, enabling them to hunt or flee.

However, nowadays, we're constantly triggered. It's been found that exposure to noise exceeding 90 decibels stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, so you might be familiar with that as the fight or flight system, and thus increases the secretion of adrenaline and noradrenaline hormones. That's obviously certainly not great for the nervous system, mostly when we're trying to pace and be in that state of rest and digest.

A client that I worked with used to have the TV on in the background regularly, and she noticed a significant improvement when she just turned off the TV in the background. She noticed a significant improvement in her symptoms and just in her energy levels.

Studies have shown that just two hours of silence can create new cells in the hippocampus, which is the brain region associated with learning, memory, and emotions.

Another study demonstrated that just two minutes of silence can actually relieve stress by lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels.

There's a quick side note on wisdom that we've kind of forgotten over time. Florence Nightingale actually said, "A necessary noise is the most cruel of care that can be inflicted on the sick or the well."

In the study I mentioned earlier about the power of rest, of two hours of rest, the researchers stated (and I quote), "Freedom from noise and goal-directed tasks appears unites the quiet without and within, allowing our conscious workspace to do its thing, to weave ourselves into the world, to discover where we fit in." That's the power of silence.

Now, also, the hippocampus is particularly important when we're talking about long COVID, but just in general, autonomic dysfunction as well. But we do know that neuroinflammation from COVID can lead to a loss of hippocampal neurogenesis. However, what is lost can be regained through silence.

So, the absence of goal-directed tasks is a crucial aspect.

Resting or pacing shouldn't be done out of obligation or following specific formats or methods. It's about just being, simply sitting. The other week I myself felt this kind of pressure building up, what I call The Whispers of my body, telling me, like, "Hey, you're slowly doing too much." And I knew I needed to properly rest. So I went out to this really beautiful park. But the whole time I was out, I kept thinking about the things I needed to do, some of the calls that I had that week. Honestly, it wasn't restful. It was goal-directed. Yes, I was out there, and I was in quiet, but not really because my mind wasn't.

One of the best ways to achieve this space is through nature and finding moments of rest within your daily life. Breaks for rest, even just for a few minutes before or after breakfast, can be magical. Just a few minutes of silence, closing your eyes, lying down can make a difference.

I remember working with somebody once who implemented 15 minutes of just laying down with their eyes closed and listening to soothing music. They did this every two hours, and after three weeks of them doing this, it made a huge improvement in their energy levels. Once you also train yourself to withstand silence, it becomes a really powerful tool.

To help you with this, I've created a meditation you can actually access for free by clicking the link below. There are also some journaling prompts at that same link that relate to this topic, which I think will be really useful for you to look at.

So, we understand the benefits of rest, but it's not as easy as it seems. There are often obstacles, patterns, habits, and ways of us being that make it a little bit challenging to engage in this. So let's discuss a few of them and explore what can help untangle these patterns if you are struggling with rest.

The first one is a habit, it's a sort of attachment that we have to business. We're so accustomed to constant activity, to rushing from one place to another. Even before, maybe before you got sick, your body is generally whispering to you, but it's easier to silence it by doing more.

That's why sometimes, even when you start feeling better from some of your symptoms, you might still feel more tired. Also, because you're now so much more attuned to recognizing when something is too much for you when before it might have been easier for you to complete silence the out and not even tune into it so much.

But, of course, when you're in this hypersensitive state, like obviously people with autonomic dysfunction, dysautonomia, POTS, long COVID, or other chronic illnesses as well, obviously that affect the nervous system, that whisper that I mentioned quickly turns into a shout.

Unfortunately, as our bodies have changed into this new state of this hypersensitivity of the nervous system, the bodies have changed, but the lifestyle and the habits around business haven't really disappeared. Perhaps you're now working fewer hours or you're not working at all, and maybe your partner is helping with household chores or somebody else, but maybe you're still finding ways of keeping busy, maybe mentally or keeping busy in some other way.

Another study asked participants to sit in a lab room in silence for 15 minutes without distractions. At the beginning, they asked participants, and participants stated that they would actually pay to avoid being shocked with electricity. But 67% of men and 25% of women chose to shock themselves rather than sit quietly in that room and think. That's how scared we are lately of silence and rest as a society.

When generally working with clients, I focus obviously on working on the nervous system and pacing because it's a huge piece of this. But we also obviously talk about other things like root causes, nutrition, looking at detoxification, looking at movement. While, of course, it can be really tempting to skip to other interventions like maybe cold water immersion or new diets, supplements, testing various therapies, we tend to often overlook the importance of rest.

It sounds so simple but can be so hard to put in practice. So, what can help here? The first step is awareness. Tune in and observe your day. Notice how much rest you're getting, what rest feels like for you, and how it makes you feel. Are you feeling the need to constantly do something or seek external stimulation? This can obviously make it difficult to rest. And over time, as your awareness grows, you'll be able to tune in better to the whispers of the body, not just when it's screaming at you to stop.

Another aspect that makes rest difficult is control. Sometimes it feels like the more we do and the more effort we exert, the more we can shape our lives as we desire. We may believe that what we want in life comes through pushing and doing more. Clients expressed concerns to me too that resting feels inactive and that they feel like they're going to get worse if they implement resting breaks.

The reality is that everything changes every single moment, and there's never stability in life, right? Having an illness brings this to the forefront. Symptoms change as our bodies change, but there's this mistaken belief that the more we do, we can almost outrun this. We can control this. We can actually prevent these changes from occurring in our bodies.

That's why another exercise that's really important to do is to pay attention to how symptoms shift in the body. For example, let's say you're feeling dizzy or you're having palpitations. Observe how simply sitting with the sensations and tuning in, just sitting and tuning in, can actually change them. You're not doing anything except observing, and you could feel how that changes things. That might help put in perspective too the need to necessarily do something or try to outrun it. Just sit there and observe it and see what comes from that.

And also, remember you have that free meditation that I mentioned. You can access it by clicking on the link below. It goes really well with everything that I just mentioned, and the journaling questions, I think, can also help you reflect on this. Please take advantage of that; it's free.

So, I hope you enjoyed this video on the importance of rest and silence. It's all backed by scientific evidence, and I encourage you to incorporate these principles into your life and to find moments to disconnect and be present.


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