Bringing Yourself Back Home
I love hiking alone, but sometimes I get a little panicky that I'll get lost in the woods unable to find my way back to where I started. There's something about the experience of hiking solo that both invigorates and scares me, but there's nothing like the feeling of accomplishment when I make it out alive.
This hiking experience serves as a metaphor for the lives we live as women in the modern world. We set out with strength and confidence, but there's an underlying anxiety that surfaces when we get too far from what's familiar and comfortable.
I like to think of this anxiety as a healthy reminder that maybe we've strayed a little too much from our center. This is easy to do when we focus on other people, accomplishments and being perfect more than on our own values, principles, beliefs and self-care.
We live in a world where the idea of balance has practically become obsolete as we juggle commitments and stretch ourselves so thin we snap. Somewhere along the way we got the message that we should be able to do it all, and that doing it all on our own is a sign of strength.
While we can do it all - and we do - it's absolutely essential that we always know how to return to the core foundation that sustains our health and wellbeing.
I invite you to return to the very beautiful state of homeostasis.
I love the word homeostasis because it includes the word home, which evokes feelings of safety and security, and the word stasis, which is defined as a state of static balance and equilibrium.
Homeostasis is used most often in the world of medicine to describe the necessary balance within the body for optimal health and functioning. You have been intricately designed to be in balance, and the homeostasis in your body is a mechanism set into place for your survival.
Your body is designed to maintain a homeostatic process through your blood sugar, hormones, brain chemicals, and cellular energy. This is a pretty self-sustaining inner balance unless you sabotage it with poor food choices, irregular eating habits, and poor nutrition. Just like a well maintained car, your body will work as it should as long as you provide it with what it needs.
In the external world you have to work a bit harder to maintain homeostasis because you're dealing with people and situations outside your control much of the time. Your relationships, work, and time must be tended to and managed just like your inner world if you want to maintain the balance you need to thrive.
All of these inner and outer systems depend on you for balance. You do this by maintaining a balanced diet, rich in minerals and nutrients, and a lived experience of balance where the stress of your life is managed using practical tools like exercise, setting boundaries and getting enough rest.
A body out of balance is a recipe for illness, and a life out of balance is a recipe for unhappiness.
A little imbalance is good.
If you've ever tried to find balance in your body doing a yoga pose, standing on a paddle board, or just challenging your stability in daily life you know that every time you become unstable and even fall over you build a little more resilience.
Homeostasis works in the same way.
There's another concept related to homeostasis called hormesis. Hormesis refers to the low level or temporary exposure to otherwise harmful stressors that results in a favorable and adaptive biological response.
We see this a lot in nature. Plants and animals are constantly being put to the test by defending against organic stressors like weather patterns, predators and opportunistic invaders, but they adapt and are stronger for it. You may know about some of these special adaptogenic plants that are used to balance stress naturally. These include Ashwagandha, Astragalus, Licorice Root and my personal favorite, Cordycep mushrooms.
What this means for you as a human is that a little bit of stress makes you stronger and more capable of handling the next stressor that comes along. BUT, this is only possible if the stressor is short term.
Chronic imbalances that last for weeks to years are the cause of most disease and lead to permanent damage to psychological and physical health.
A good way of thinking about maintaining your internal and external homeostasis is to always remember that life is never smooth. Balance is inherently an unstable process so perfection and stillness are not the goal.
To maintain your homeostasis, you'll need to first develop a strong foundational base. Assess your overall health, life commitments, personal relationships and nutritional habits, and make adjustments where needed.
When your life-sustaining systems are in place you can feel free to test the waters of your psychological and physical limits as a means of building resilience in mind and body.
Overall, consider fluidity, an exchange of energy, and most importantly a sense of flexibility.
Just like a flower being moved by the wind, you'll learn to bend without breaking.
This is when you'll know you've found your way back home.