Modern life’s myriad technologies, transportations, and every form of media stimulation bombards our nervous systems. In fact, our psyche’s are so over-stimulated by television, artificial lights, our laptops, and the demands of school and our jobs, that we mostly exist in fight or flight mode, instead of the much preferred rest and digest. When we are in the fight or flight mode, our cortisol levels are raised and we are more susceptible to states of extreme stress, illness, and burn out. We are, in fact, more likely to turn to substances to cure what ails us. We desire to numb our overstimulated minds and bodies and we turn to escapist mentalities. While it’s true that our nervous systems were designed to withstand such constant stimulation from outside forces, it’s also true that we need not turn to anaesthetizing ourselves. The philosopher and psychologist William James posited: “The great thing, then, in all education, is to make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy.” What did he mean by this and how can we make friends with our fragile and frazzled nervous systems?
William James knew that if we learn to work with our nervous systems, that is, to stop overstimulating them and to instead listen to their innermost desires, we will truly know ourselves. How do we make friends with the nervous system? We slow down. By slowing down, your whole system begins to reset. You begin to breathe deeper, notice the finer details of any given scene, and get out of fight or flight mode. When you slow down, you become more present with yourself and your surrounds and so too the urge to turn to substances can dissipate. How do we slow down in an ultra-modernized world that doesn’t want us to slow down? We go outside. We turn to nature, which we eventually recognize as ourselves, our innermost wildness. Nature runs at a pace that our nervous systems appreciate and so, we can begin to relax, settle down, and be present. Walking in nature, camping in nature, or simply noticing your natural surroundings will encourage you to slow down and your nervous system will thank you with its friendship.
RedCliff Ascent is a therapeutic wilderness program, nestled between two mountain ranges in the high desert of Enterprise, UT. We focus on adolescents ages 13-17 who are struggling with various challenges from anxiety and depression, to school abandonment and the need to reconnect with their family. With over 25 years of experience, RedCliff uses a relational model and narrative therapy to drive an outcome and an evidence-based approach. RedCliff Recovery offers an experience like no other through a proven, 12-step, adventure-based wilderness program. For more information, call us today: 801-921-8488.