At the heart of life are ups and downs

Have you ever noticed that our heart’s echocardiogram, the measure of the electrical activity across the heart that provides evidence that we are alive, is a wave with peaks and troughs? Isn’t it rather eloquent that the very thing that proves our existence is made up of ups and downs? Our brain Electrocardiogram is the same, measuring the electrical activity across the brain and with the same peaks and troughs on a wave. Our hearts and minds are made up of peaks and troughs, showing us that ups and downs are an essential part of life. The depolarisations and repolarisations, the highs and lows keep us alive. They are an essential part of life and part of being human is learning to surf these waves and maintain a constant internal equilibrium. We must ride the good and bad days with the knowledge that although not every day can be good, there is something good in everyday.

copyright laura Campbell 2019
Our hearts natural rhythm has ups and downs

Homeostasis is the biological term for keeping a constant internal environment. We do this in the body using “feedback loops,” so if the weather outside is hot we sweat and this brings down our internal temperature, or if the weather outside is cold we shiver to increase our internal temperature. These “feedback” mechanisms help us to mitigate any changes in our external environment, from the outside temperature to our dietary water levels, to our blood sugar levels to our detection of predators or stress threats. They play a pivotal role in keeping us alive as if temperature, water, sugar, predator levels go up or down we can restore the internal conditions to balance and keep things level.

With our mental health we must “self-evolve” our brains by teaching ourselves life lessons to “feedback” to ourselves changes in our own mental health and keep our minds level. We must recognise how external conditions change our internal emotions and thoughts and use tools to “feedback” these changes and mitigate the highs and lows and restore inner balance. If we have a great day we must be emotionally aware and feed this back to ourselves and if we have a bad day we must recognise this too and say to ourselves “well tomorrow will be better.” Learning to have a resilient inner dialogue, which is so often blocked off by the eternal buzz of our phones, stimulating our brains and removing from us the necessary time for inner reflection and contemplation, helps to keep things constant and reduce anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions.

But how do you develop this inner voice of reason?

For some it comes through overcoming hardships and challenges for others it comes from education, whilst the lucky few are born with it. However with so many contrary opinions bombastically thrown at people over the internet and social media saturating us with opportunity and comparisons to other lives, it can sometimes mean that we stop hearing or trusting our inner dialogue and become deaf to it, losing it in a mass of other people’s voices.

The negative effect of too much technology use is being broadly documented at the moment, with legislation being encouraged that will limit young peoples social media time, and this time away from phones and digital devices will play a vital role in encouraging the self-reflection necessary to develop inner peace. Time off is also essential. We exist in worlds where we must like cyborg robots be always achieving and striving towards new goals, but only in silence and peace and time off can you properly hear yourself think and learn.

Sleep also helps. It plays a vital role in memory, helping to shift learnings from a day from the short term memory brain Frontal Lobe to the long term memory Hippocampus, helping us to learn from experiences more effectively. The modern day plague of insomnia thus plays a terrible villain, treacherously stealing from us the ability to learn and grow as people and develop the emotional intelligence and maturity necessary to overcome challenges.

Creativity also helps us to relax and only in this state, free from stress hormones, can we build new synapses (brain linkages) and develop new ways of dealing with stimuli. Exercise and endorphins and lots of varied stimulation (for example learning a language or visiting lots of new places and having spontaneous adventures) also promotes this brain growth. A good diet, rich in Tryptophan and promoting activity and sleep is also essential. In order to overcome challenges we must know ourselves, must be able to hear ourselves think, to love and trust our inner voice gut instinct and be always open to learning. If you are not learning you are not listening and you are not living.

To be human is to overcome ups and downs and to surf the waves and just keep swimming. Happiness is expectation minus reality and the knowledge that you can overcome any challenge that life throws at you and always stay afloat.

Copyright Laura Campbell June 2019