Rainbow red: Energy, sleep and mental health

The first chakra and the first colour of the rainbow is red. The red chakra (root) centers around feeling safe, secure and stable. How grounded/rooted/connected we feel about what is happening in our world affects both our mental and physical wellbeing. It affects our flight or fight response which at present is heightened in most of us as we all feel fear of the unknown with Covid. When we feel fear, anxiety, uncertainty, anger and despair our fight or flight response floods (sympathetic nervous system) our bodies with adrenalin and cortisol. We may feel destabilised, uprooted and disconnected from controlling the environment we live in. Staying in a heightened stress response increases inflammation in our bodies affecting our digestive and joint health. Our immune system is lowered and our sleep and energy levels are significantly affected. The root chakra positioning is close to the adrenal glands. Over production of the stress hormone cortisol leads to adrenal fatigue causing us to feel exhausted and unable to function in our daily life. We can become physically exhausted through how we feel!

Seeing the colour red is synomynuous with feeling angry. Anger and irritation are very draining and depleting emotion that keeps cortisol levels high, affecting our sleep, and our waistline!

Being mindful of noticing your sense of smell is one way to connect your mind and body, be present and ground yourself to the now. Fear takes our mind into what might be, being in the now can help reduce anxiety and regulate our nervous system. Being mindful through connecting to a scent helps ground us, helps us to pause and take a few minutes or as long as you can to focus on the scent, your breath and help quickly lower the fight or flight response and assist with stimulating the bodies ability to rest, repair and digest (parasympathetic nervous system).

Scents that have a calming affect on the mind include lavendar, sweet marjoram, Roman chamomile, lemon, neroli, jasmine and rose. I personally love The White Companies ‘Flowers’ body lotion and room diffuser range, rich in jasmine, neroli, rose and lavendar. I also use L’Occatine’s Verbena range. I instantly feel connected to what I am thinking as I apply the lotion in the morning. Having a hand cream, diffuser or tissue with a scent to check in to feeling calm through the day helps soothe an over thinking mind, reduce anxiety and stress. Using scents in a candle, essential oil or shower gel in a bath or diffuser at night time such as lavender may help improve sleep and relaxation.

Being outdoors in nature helps us notice the red berries and flowers dependant on the time of year. Gardening helps us to connect to the earth, is a great mindful activity especially when outdoors in the sunshine, whether it winter or summer sunshine! Being active in nature either gardening, walking or cycling all help lower the fight or flight response, help balance our nervous system and help support sleep, energy and mental and physical wellbeing.

The more we can take control of our emotions, noticing when we feel fear, anxiety, anger and irritation the more we can control both our mind and bodies reaction. Seeing or wearing something red could be reframed to a cue to pause, find a scent in a hand cream, candle, shower gel or an essential oil burner. Remember to focus on it for a few minutes and reset the mind and body. Doing this everyday quickly trains our brains to let go of fear and anxiety. The pathways becomes less automatic are reaction to triggers such as the news, family, friends, traffic, what ever it might be reduce and our response changes to a calmer one. We feel in control of noticing and reducing a racing heart rate, increased breathing rate, shallow breath, tight neck and shoulders muscles, reduced digestion through nausea, stomach upsets, trembling and shaking as we lower all those physiological feelings of the fight or flight response and feel calmer, more relaxed and in control. Our physical and mental energy is increased.

Reframing red as a cue to pause, ground ourself, take root in the present moment, notice with our sense of smell overtime helps your body lower high cortisol level that may be impairing sleep and energy levels. We may start to notice improved digestive and joint health through reduced inflammation. Switching a relaxing mode helps our body release the immune boosting hormone DHEA important for everyone. If our body no longer wants to fight or run away it stops releasing excess fat and sugar that stores around our waist affecting our risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, some cancers and type 2 diabetes.

So simply reframing red has huge mental and physical health benefits! Try it today and build it into each day. A few seconds, a few minutes all add up to big lifelong habits that improve your health and wellbeing.

Next time- Rainbow red: how eating red foods helps our mental and physical wellbeing

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