Calming the Nervous System

The Body, Mind, & Soul Connection: Your Weekly Newsletter

Chronic stress, anxiety, panic, and depressive symptoms have a detrimental impact on the extent to which we trust ourselves and the ways in which we interact with our environment, loved ones, our day-to-day tasks, and our work. A dysregulated nervous system- stemming from overuse of the sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight, or freeze), and operating in a society that places limited value on lifestyles that support the parasympathetic system (rest and digest) – can show up in a number of different ways including…

Emotional symptoms which may show up as experiencing frequent and uncontrollable crying, irritability, low-motivation, difficulty with planning and organization, fatigue, brain fog, disconnect with your body and mind (“I’m not sure if I’m hungry, thirsty, or need a nap”), among many other symptoms.

Physiological symptoms which may show up as racing heart, digestive issues, headache, aches and pains, to name a few symptoms.

WE ARE PUMPIN’ OUT CORTISOL, NOREPINEPHRINE, AND ADRENALINE, left, right, and centre! As a collective we are trying to bring ourselves back to balance, back to homeostasis and people are using numbing behaviours that feel good such as bingeing on shows, scrolling on our phones, smoking weed, using food and exercise, hard drugs, obsessing over our looks, and so much more. We are trying to level out – get that hit of dopamine, that reward so that our brains feel like all that stress and effort was worth something.

Our nervous systems are on overload and it has an impact on everything that we do. Maybe you have something else going on that’s not simply related to your mental health – please go talk to your doctor and seek medical care. In terms of your mental health, here are a few things that can contribute to being in that chronic state of sympathetic system overuse:

  • You started a new job
  • You moved
  • You retired
  • You’re in university
  • You’re a new parent
  • You’re experiencing relationship stress
  • You’re experiencing financial stress
  • You’re moving
  • You’re living alone for the first time ever
  • You’re planning on starting a family
  • You have medical health issues
  • You had a falling out with a friend or a family member
  • You’re anticipating the Winter months coming
  • You feel like you have no time for yourself
  • You hate your job
  • You’re on medication or birth control that you don’t like
  • You’re unhappy with your health or your body

Of course, there are many more ways in which we live in chronic stress, the above are a few big transitions/milestones/stressors that I want to acknowledge because sometimes – we don’t!! We ignore these things and assume that everything is fine, we judge ourselves and say “I should be fine”. It’s OK if you’re not fine.

Here are 4 skills that have helped me and that I guide my clients through in session to help with emotional regulation as it relates to our dysregulated bodies and brains.

  1. Sit with discomfort – Set a timer and sit. 5 minutes, 10 minutes – however long your can. Just breathe. Show your brain and body that it’s OK, that you are safe, that it doesn’t have to be on overdrive.
  2. Set boundaries – I have only recently started doing this and NOT feeling guilty about it. What’s not fun is when you say no or set a boundary and then criticize yourself for it. It feels so good to assess your own needs, communicate them in a healthy way, and then to follow through with full trust knowing that you did the right thing for you.
  3. Know yourself – This makes the boundary setting easier. This makes it so much easier to say YES – I’M ALL IN, or NO- I’M NOT INTERESTED. Write down a few of your values -list maybe 8, write down where you see yourself in 1 year from now, ask yourself what you would want people to remember you for at the end of your life. Get to the deep stuff, the good stuff, your why, your purpose. It makes it so much easier to sift through all of the noise and the chaos when you know you. There is no overwhelm, you’re unbothered.
  4. Step outside of your comfort zone – Our bodies are addicted to the stress hormones that we perpetuate. We’d rather feel stress and anxiety than nothing at all. Try feeling something else -practice allowing joy in, practice catching yourself when you’re worrying about something and setting it aside. Allow this strength to build, practice building new neuropathways in your brain. New ways of behaving, new ways of being. If you feel stuck, and you continue putting energy into being stuck, you will stay stuck. Embrace change, be curious about your resistance to change, take your time – FUN FACT: it takes a mango tree 2-3 years to produce fruit. Where could you be on your mental health journey in 2-3 years if you plant your tree now, if you start the work now? If you’re diligent nurturing this growth? If you understand that there will be storms but that the rain will pass and you’ll be even more resilient. How different and magnificent could your life be then?

This week on the podcast:

Because, the cost of gas – am I right??

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