Using the Art of Savoring to Rewire Your Brain
Hi there, I’m Katie! I’m a recovering perfectionist and former hurry-er and chronic worrier. I’m going to share with you today how I learned to swap my hurrying and worrying for a healthier practice of savoring and “taking in the good” to rewire my brain for resilience, happiness, and peace!
Prior to this life-changing swap, I was chronically ill for a decade with many of the acronym illnesses including CIRS, MCS, CFS, MCAS, HI, and MARCoNS. Despite following a variety of strict diets, supplement and medication schedules, extreme mold and chemical avoidance, and interesting detox protocols, my health continued to decline, leaving me mostly home and bedbound.
Thankfully, a few years ago I discovered DNRS through a divine encounter with a stranger. As I began retraining my brain using DNRS, I realized that hurrying and worrying behaviors as well as a perfectionistic mindset were reinforcing the chronic stress response in my brain.
Constant rushing from one thing to the next can increase cortisol levels in the body because our brain perceives this hurrying as a sign that there is danger, further reinforcing limbic system impairment. Perfectionism and worrying have similar harmful effects as they keep our brain focused on the negative, often overlooking progress, wins, and positives.
In his book Hardwiring Happiness, Rick Hanson explains why focusing on the negative is so problematic. He describes that, “Over time, negative experiences make the amygdala even more sensitive to the negative.” He explains that the cortisol released by the hypothalamus strengthens the amygdala, making the “alarm bell of the brain ring more easily and more loudly.”
Our brains are shaped by what we focus our attention on.
When we focus on negative things like our worries, anger, stress, emotional and physical pain, and judgments, our limbic system becomes hypersensitive and overactive, which over time makes us more prone to chronic illness, depression, and anxiety.
Alternatively though, when we focus on positive things such as our progress, gratitude, self-love, feel-good experiences, and small pleasures, our limbic system calms and we build resilience and are able to more easily and frequently access joy and peace.
Thankfully we don’t have to have BIG amazingly enjoyable experiences every day in order to focus our brains on the positive. We can do this quickly and easily by focusing on the small things in our day-to-day life that spark joy and gratitude. This is where the art of savoring and “taking in the good” (as Rick Hanson would say) come in.
Taking time to enjoy the small things may sound trite (and like an encouraging graphic that your grandmother would repost on Facebook), but it can have a profound impact on your brain and body!
But how do you practically enjoy the small things?
Well, it is as simple as being present in the moment and being intentional to focus on the good in that moment. What are you enjoying about that moment? Focus your intention on that and savor it!
When you savor something you take delight in it and you let it affect you. It has an impact on your body and your emotion. Think about enjoying a warm chocolate chip cookie. When you savor the cookie you are eating it slowly, enjoying the taste of every delicious morsel. You’re feeling the texture of the warm chocolate chips in your mouth. You’re delighting in the sensations, flavors, textures, smells, and evoked emotions. I bet you’re smelling and tasting it right now!
You can do the same thing with the small positive experiences throughout your day. This can look like enjoying the warm water in your morning shower...or noticing a beautiful tree on your drive to work...or even appreciating the barista’s kind greeting and demeanor when ordering your (oat milk) latte. Let your mind rest on that to "install" it into your brain!
When we choose to slow down and focus on the small delights throughout our day instead of hurrying and worrying, we send the message to our brain that we are safe. When our limbic system perceives that we are safe, we operate in our rest and digest mode which facilitates and prioritizes healing and recovery.
And in addition to that, it results in feelings of joy, gratitude, happiness, and peace. Who doesn't want more of that?!
This Friday I’ll be taking over @rosecoloredwarrior’s IG account to demonstrate live how to savor everyday experiences to calm your limbic system and rewire your brain! I’ll walk you through how to "take in the good" in small moments to increase your happiness and peace! This is a live event at 12:20 PDT on IG so be sure to join me then! Looking forward to it!
Reading this after that time, or can't make it Live? No worries! Head to her account and catch the replay on IGTV!
You can find me on IG at @katienickersonhealth where I talk all things brain retraining, overcoming perfectionism, my Christian faith and its involvement in my healing journey, simple pleasures, and my two favorite hobbies: fashion and organizing (Marie Kondo or The Home Edit, anyone?!).
Head on over to IG and send me a message to say hi! I also offer one-on-one coaching via Zoom. If you’re interested in working with me as a coach, click the link here to sign up for a free chat to discuss your healing journey and how I can help propel you into recovery.
I am also very excited to be speaking on Saturday at the Rewiring Wellness retreat. If you haven't already registered, you can do so here!