This is the resilience skill we need to keep us able to return to a calm, cool and collected nervous system baseline and avoid living in a state of hyperarousal – the feeling of being in an abnormally heightened state 24/7.
Some people are naturally good at this. These are the people who try a meditation class for the first time and don’t get what all the fuss is about –they find it easy and natural because they are already less affected by stressors to the nervous system than the average person. You might see this in a friend who always seems chilled out, whatever life sends their way.
But, even the most naturally calm person can become wired over time and the demands of modern life to be more reactive to stress. When this happens, even a formerly chilled-out person can lose the ability to dial down the arousal levels in the brain and mind.
Then some people are naturally quite highly strung, perfectionist or always on the go by nature. They don’t have an off switch. They often never or very rarely experience a state of calm wind down unless they are exhausted and crashing into sleep.
You may see some of yourself in both. These traits that lead to having no off switch are not necessarily bad, but like any personality trait, it can be a strength and a weakness depending on how it’s managed. For example, being a high achiever who is always on the go can be very good for professional success. Still, if it gets out of hand, it can lead to the inability to wind down and eventually lead to burnout or clinical anxiety disorder. However, if it is well managed and you are aware you have this tendency, you can use it to achieve incredible things and lead a fulfilling life as long as you learn to dial things back down too.