You are probably very familiar with the term ‘boot camp’. The traditional boot camp requires you to run on adrenaline and other hormones, tapping into your ‘unused potential’.
The human stress response is supposed to provide protection through the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism in situations of grave danger. An appropriate amount of stress is a healthy and necessary part of life. In modern day, the stress response is kicking in on an ongoing basis due to accumulating, psychological stressors. Unlike your car which needs to idle at a certain rate to avoid stalling out; you can be hurt long term by a chronically idling stress response, which keeps you ‘ready to go, ready to run’. In today’s culture of ‘I need it now, fast food, commuting, problem solving on the fly, climbing the work ladder, running the kids to and fro, technical devices, social platforms and juggling finances’, it can be a challenge for your body to restore the stress response to its default stand down position. Children as well as adults seem to be in a fast-paced mode from the time they get up until they go to bed.
During times of stress, energy is diverted from the parasympathetic to the sympathetic nervous system, which activates the ‘flight’ reaction. The parasympathetic nervous system strives to maintain homeostasis after periods of pain or stress by getting the body to relax. At any point in time with the addition of a major life stressor, an idling stress response can take the leap into a full blown ‘fight or flight’ response with dire consequences. Even if a full ‘fight or flight’ response does not kick in, the chronic stress idling with its ongoing, harmful dose of hormones can have detrimental affects to health. In his article, Psychology Today: Stress – It Is Worse Than You Think, John Carpi highlights the harmful effects of chronic stress as well as how one can become sensitized to stress like a lobster coming to boil in a pot.
‘Unboot’ camps or calm camps and retreats that provide ways to restore the body’s stress response to its default stand down position; would be a healthier alternative to traditional boot camps for those who tend to run on adrenaline. Any therapies or activities that promote calm and relaxation like deep breathing, meditation, visualization, yoga, tai chi and nature walks assist in shutting down the stress response and restoring homeostasis. Eliminating caffeine, which amplifies the stress response, is a must for those that run on adrenaline. Various herbs and essential oils contain nervines which enhance relaxation.