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When Feeling Grateful Feels Impossible & Ludicrous, Use Your Body to Get to Your Mind.
We all have those days or moments when if someone was to tell us to be grateful, we’d feel like screaming at them, “Get real, take your gratitude and shove it!”
There are times when thinking of things, you’re grateful for not only seems impossible, it feels like the most ludicrous and infuriating thing anyone could possibly suggest. It feels like you’re avoiding facing your problems or minimizing their seeming importance and urgency. If only we could understand that gratitude won’t make us float off into lala land, it WILL help us change the trajectory of our very bad day.
But in the heat of your very bad moment, it’s impossible for you to understand this. To use an old saying, “You can’t see the wood for the trees”. In a stressed state, your vision narrows.
One of the many things the stress hormone cortisol does in your body is reduce your peripheral vision so that you can focus solely on the potential threat you’re perceiving without being distracted by other things happening on the periphery. What you focus on magnifies.
This can be easily seen by capturing the sun’s rays through a magnifying glass on to a piece of wood. The situation, and your thoughts and feelings about it, intensify. You don’t have the clarity of having a broad view. You can’t see other people’s perspectives, creative solutions, or reach for better feeling thoughts and emotions. You certainly can’t feel grateful.
It can be super helpful to widen your vision - look up and out. Simply intentionally widen your vision by looking up, out, and around you.
There’s a whole host of other things that happen in your brain and body when your stress response is triggered and your nervous system kicks into fight or flight mode, and they all happen quickly, within the blink of an eye. Most noticeably, everything speeds up - your heart, your breathing, and your thoughts. This state is all about action and urgency, to “fix” the situation, and quickly.
“Fix” in inverted commas because, rather than fix anything, you are more likely to make things worse. In this state of hyper-alertness, the prefrontal cortex area of your brain, which is responsible for rationalization, shuts down. It’s very hard, if not impossible, to intentionally use any effective top-down mental strategy such as gratitude - you’re too alert, too activated, and too agitated.
You need to slow down and calm down. And you need a real-time tool to help you do this. When you can’t control your mind, you need to do something purely mechanical within your body. This is what is known as bottom-up control. Using your body to get to your mind.
You can’t take conscious control of your heart. The only way in is through your breath. It’s a very well-established medical fact that there is a direct relationship between how you breathe and your heart rate. When you inhale, you send a neural signal to your heart to speed up. When you exhale, you signal your heart to slow down.
Longer exhales will slow down your heart rate and in turn bring your nervous system back to a more balanced place, from hyper-alert towards calm. Your prefrontal cortex will switch back on, and you’ll regain access to your rational brain.
Box Breathing is my preferred approach. 4-4-4-4
Focusing your mind on consciously controlling your breath, and silently counting to yourself, will also help to distract your mind from the thoughts racing around.
Acknowledgment Nadine Hickman (Peptalkmedia.com)
Derived Grade Examinations
Students in Years 11 - 13 will be starting exams on 12 September. The 2023 Exam Timetable can be viewed here. Students only need to attend when they have an exam. The exception to this is on Tuesday 12 September when Year 11 will be taking part in the MCAT exam for 1 hour and will then go to the rest of their classes for the day. Session times are 8.40 - 11.50am and 12.35 to 3.45pm.
In Term 3 the school is reviewing the following policies.
Anyone can review and make comment on these policies. Please follow the steps below.
- Visit the website https://rutherfordcollege.schooldocs.co.nz/1893.htm
- Enter the username (rutherfordcollege) and password (kotuku).
- Follow the link to the relevant policy as listed.
- Read the policy.
- Click the Start your review button at the top right-hand corner of the page.
- Select the reviewer type.
- Enter your name (optional).
- Follow the prompts to show that you've read the topic and enter your feedback if you'd like to comment.
- Agree to the privacy statement and click “Submit review”.
Have your say. Take our quick survey
It's that time of year when we'd like to hear what you think? Do you think mobile phones should be banned at school? Some government officials do and some schools overseas have already taken this step. We'd like to hear what you have to say about that and other things. Please take our short survey here.
7-8 September - Dance Show
13 September - NCEA Derived Grade Exams start
24 October - Pasifika Awards
25 October - Cultural Awards
26 October - Te Ao Māori Awards
27 October - Sports Awards
02 November - Senior Prizegiving