Be Like Flash and Get Some Rest

Have you ever wondered why it seems like a sloth is smiling all the time? No?

Well, I’ll wonder about this for you. 

I think sloths are captivating. They have this intriguing countenance that pulls you in. They just seem cool. 

I recently met a sloth in Honduras. His name was Flash (predictable, I know). Holding Flash was one of the coolest animal encounters I’ve ever had. There is something about a sloth that feels peaceful and kind. Did I hold Flash or did Flash hold me? I’m not sure. 

If there was such a thing as a spirit animal, I think a sloth might be mine. 

As much as sloths get a bad rap for being lazy, I think we should strive to be a little more like Flash. In our hustle culture, we take animal inspiration from the go-getters. Everyone wants to be like a Rhino or a Lion. Charge! Dominate! Be the king of your business kingdom! And don’t get me wrong, there are some great books about being like a Rhino or having a Lion mentality. But there aren’t a lot of success or leadership books about being like a sloth. 

Because that doesn’t feel like success. 

But maybe part of the Rhino success is rest. Rhinos still sleep 8 hours a day. And, don’t get me started on the dominating sleepy cat. Lions sleep 20 hours a day! 

Here’s the point of my animal rant: sloths have something to teach us about our nervous system. 

Slow and steady produces clear thinking. 

The reality is we all experience stress and traumatic situations in our lives that ramp up our central nervous system. That ramp up cues a survival pattern in our brains to increase cortisol and other stress related hormones. 

A brain in survival state is in a constant 911 mode. This produces anxiety, hyper-vigilance, trouble sleeping, reduces memory performance, decreases cognitive processing, and is associated with a constant feeling “on-edge”. 

When we fill our schedules with events and meetings, the back-to-back rushing reinforces the 911 mode in our brains. Rushing to not be late, weaving in and out of traffic, and multi-tasking, all communicates to our amygdala that we are in survival. Survival mentality means more cortisol and more cortisol means more anxiety. 

How do we break the spiral? 

Slow down like a sloth and rest. 

Slowing down and resting doesn’t mean you are lazy. It means you are getting healthy. 

I heard a friend recently say, “rushing is the enemy of resting.” It’s true. 

Since we all face stressful situations and traumatic events throughout our lives, we need to counterbalance the survival mode in our brains. Resting and slowing down can begin to communicate to our brain that we are safe and the cortisol drip can stop. 

Slowing down our pace and working in prolonged periods of rest will help the brain to move from surviving to thriving again. 

I think Flash the Sloth is smiling all the time because he has learned something about the pace of life. Maybe he is smiling because he just isn’t stressed.

A carefree, hanging in a tree, kind of life. 

It’s ok to slow down and rest. Take a deep breath and spend some of your living like a sloth. 

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