Physiological arousal / activation / agitation

Separately from aversions, there is excess physiological arousal. [1]

Sometimes, even when I’ve pretty successfully processed some felt sense, and am riding it out, there’s still stress involved. For instance, when I’m drafting an important email, to a potential employer or potential romantic partner.

This kind of arousal isn’t always bad. Often the energy of this kind of heightened state is positively useful. But high arousal usually correlates with less stable attention. And, often, this high level of arousal causes me to bounce off my work.

Oftentimes this happens just after I finish something stressful. In this case, it will often feel hard to transition to the next thing, instead opting to go for a walk around the neighborhood (for 40 minutes to an hour, usually). The high levels of activation is “left over” after sending the email, and it accordingly feels effortful to put direct my attention toward something else.

This doesn’t seem bad, calming down and returning to a baseline (and maybe doing psychological processing at the same time?) seems like a natural thing to do. But also, that bouncing off is one of the main ways that I loose time in my day, and it seems like there ought to be way to do drop that arousal much more efficiently.

Some thoughts:

  • I could maybe just take this as my trigger to go exercise for the day, and turn the excess energy to a productive purpose, while also stabilizing my physiological arousal level.
    • Having a quick, intense exercise routine seems helpful for this. I was jumping rope for a while, but that apparently didn’t stick.
  • I could just set a ten minute timer and slow down my heart rate, by breathing slowly?
  • Remember my feet?
  • I could do a physical relaxation routine. [This feels wrong in that it’s like setting up a counterforce against the agitation, and having them conflict. It seems like a better thing would not feel like that.]
  • I could try removing the felt sense from my chest. [That feels bad and clugy.]
  • I have some idea that regular meditation is supposed to improve this stability of this variable. So that if I was meditating more regularly, I would return to baseline more rapidly and easily? I don’t know if that’s true.
  • Meditators do a thing sometime, where they break a thing down into its component sensations. Do that?
  • Maybe I should do Focusing to this as well? That seems hard. “This” is slippery.
  • Ok. Well another theory is that this is just the same thing exactly as the felt sense / unhandled concern situation, and not “left over” at all. Like I’m feeling agitated because I don’t know what the response will be, and its important, even if it is out of my hands. This suggests that I should dialogue with the thing about whether it is actually out of my hands?
  • Singing


[1] Just to note, you can have high arousal due to some aversion or concern that has not been processed. In fact, that is probably even more common. But in this section, I’m only discussing high-levels of activation that are not associated with an aversion or unprocessed yank.


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