Your Body Budget
To always be learning and growing is a hot button for me and linking anything about our amazing brains with how we navigate our everyday movements fascinates me.
With R U Ok day approaching I would like to share with you a great article written by a wonderful mentor of mine Dr Irena O’Brien PhD, teacher and founder of The Neuroscience School.
At the end I have shared an example of how I restore my body budget and hope you find it helpful and inspiring to look at ways to bring more restoration to yours.
By Charlotte Tedds
Low Energy? Here’s what you can do …
We are a mind-body system where the body and the mind influence each other. This means that in order to have a healthy mind and sufficient energy, you need to have a healthy body. So the first thing is to take a look at your diet, exercise, and sleep habits. If they’re disordered, no amount of “mind” work will fix your low energy.
The purpose of the brain is to ensure you grow, survive, and reproduce. It’s most important mission is to predict your body’s energy needs and it works every second of every day to keep you alive and well. It keeps your heart beating, your blood pumping, your lungs breathing, and your glucose metabolizing even when you’re resting or sleeping.
This is called allostasis: how your body maintains stability, or homeostasis. Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett has coined the metaphor “body budget” for allostasis. Everything you do, think, or feel affects your body budget!
Your body budget is like a bank account: we’re continually making withdrawals and deposits. When you’ve made too many withdrawals from your body budget so that it’s unbalanced, you’ll experience some negative consequences in the form low energy or fatigue, stress, anxiety, depression, etc.
The self-help literature and many coaches and other helping professionals view these conditions as solely of the mind: If you think differently, you’ll feel differently. They don’t give much, if any, consideration to the body.
Yet, your body and mind are deeply interconnected and interoception – the sense of our body’s internal state, including the state of our organs – drives our actions.
The brain doesn’t differentiate between a physical withdrawal from your body budget – such as running a marathon, disordered sleep, or a poor diet – or a mental withdrawal from your body budget – such as fear, worry, or anxiety. To the brain, it’s a withdrawal from the same system.
If you’re experiencing low energy or fatigue, your body budget has been unbalanced by too many withdrawals and too few deposits. So the best thing you can do to keep your energy high is to keep your body budget in good shape.
If you want to feel good, your brain must be able to accurately calibrate your heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, temperature, hormones, metabolism etc. to your body’s actual needs. If they’re unbalanced, then you’re going to feel awful no matter what self-help tips you follow.
How do you re-balance your body budget?
Remember, withdrawals from our body budget come in the form of both physical and mental withdrawals. Your brain doesn’t care where the deposits to the body budget come from. So, the first thing to do is to make sure to eat well, exercise, and get enough good quality sleep. This is the fastest way to restore your body budget. A good night’s sleep and/or a nap when you feel your energy has fallen too low can do wonders to restore your body budget.
You say you’re eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep but you still can’t get yourself up and going? The first thing to do is to see a health professional and make sure it’s not a medical problem. Then, your need to dig deeper and question what else is unbalancing your body budget. And you may need some psychological support or coaching.
Doing something pleasant, like going to lunch with a friend, yoga, read a good book, go for a walk, etc. can also restore your body budget. These are just some ideas of how to restore your body budget. You need to find what works best for you.
Because remember, your brain doesn’t differentiate between a physical withdrawal and a mental withdrawal. Neither does it differentiate between a physical deposit and a mental deposit. Sometimes, a physical deposit is all we need.
An Example of How I Restore My Body Budget
I suffer from anxiety and at different times in my life it’s become so debilitating its taken my out of commission and action. It’s a habit of worry spiraling out of control that you repeat without even realizing it. But, since studying neuroscience, all things fascia and integrating functional medicine principles into my life, I’ve started to take an even closer look at my own body budget.
Over the last 12 months I have cleaned up my eating quite dramatically and have moderated my exercising around gaining strength and mobility through body weight movements several times a week, but what has been disordered is my sleep and lack of activities that helped downregulate my nervous system.
Now, my lack of sleep was partly due to my bed hoping, youngest daughter (pictured above). For me this picture signifies how much calmer and less anxious I know I become when I’ve had a few good night’s sleep. So I’m now committed to getting 7 – 8 hours of sleep at least 3 nights a week, and through building on this new habit my goal is to reach every night.
If I start to feel overwhelmed, and this can happen many times a day when I’m tired, I stop and remind myself my mind and body are lacking vital sleep and I turn to what I am grateful for that day to help slow the feeling of overwhelm down.
I also have found great calm in the practice of yin yoga and I am finding if I miss a few days my anxiety starts to build. For now, I practice yin yoga at home, usually in my PJ’s when everyone is asleep but PJ’s or not my body budget is very happy with its presence.
I have also started to manage my anxiety by breaking up my work into small tasks I know I can succeed at. Recently I have been consciously making a point to acknowledge my wins more. I know this helps to keep my dopamine and motivation up and helps to keep me from overwhelm.
For example, on my admin days it can take me hours to write a short text but every time I feel stuck, I switch to another task that is less taxing: this morning it was designing my new barefoot class programme which is something I really enjoy. So cycling between a difficult task like writing and an easier task enabled me to keep going with the dreaded writing.
These three things have made a huge difference. I’m becoming more acutely aware of my body budget and what unbalances it. I am learning how to manage my anxiety by maintaining a balanced body budget so that it doesn’t ramp up. Because once it does, it has to run it’s course. My anxiety is what it is and I know I will always subside.
It’s all about the body budget. You can’t have a healthy mind without a healthy body so the first thing is to take a look at is your diet, exercise, and sleep habits. If they’re disordered, no amount of “mind” work will fix your low energy.