Healing The Nervous System
With our high stress society, demands of daily life and the lack of ability to naturally calm down after a stressful situation, there is no wonder why the majority of us suffer from an over taxed nervous system. Many of us believe that living in a heightened stress response is normal, however, there are ways to find relief. With a bit of knowledge and understanding for what our nervous system does and how it operates, we can be on a fast track to calling our peace back.
The nervous system can be very complex and there are many pieces and parts to it so let's focus on breaking down the two parts of the nervous system that leads us to healing. We will begin with the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic is responsible for the fight, flight or freeze response. This means that when we are faced with a dangerous situation, our bodies prepare us to respond by either fleeing, fighting back or freezing. Our pupils dilate, breath becomes shallow, heart rate quickens, senses become heightened, blood vessels expand and cortisol (stress hormone) increases and is pumped through the body. It is a remarkable thing the way our bodies respond to protect us but we can see how it would not be very good for our health to remain in this state. The bad news is, our bodies do not know how to naturally do this, but the good news is, we can teach it.
Peter Levine is a psychologist and researcher who specializes in working with trauma and stress-related disorders. He developed Somatic Experiencing, a body oriented approach to healing. His approach was create after watching animals respond to stressors in nature. And he has deeply inspired me and the work that I offer with yoga and movement therapy.
Dr. Peter Levine noticed that after animals fought with one another or escaped from a predator/prey situation they would immediately shake out their whole body. This is done to help all that extra energy be moved through the body versus allowing the body to hold onto it. This then stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous is the rest and relax. Our pupils begin to constrict, heart rate slows, and the release of saliva is stimulated which promotes digestion. We are in a much more relaxed and rested state.
If you find yourself in a constant state of stress, on high alert, or quick to react, you can try these simple ways to move into more of a rested and relaxed state. (side note, all could greatly benefit from these tips)
Meditation. Just 10 minutes, 3 times a week is enough to help you find significant relief
Shaking your body out every night before bed- 10 minutes is all you need.
Deep breaths with extended exhales. For example, breathe in through nose, filling up belly and lungs for count of 5 and breathe out through nose for a count of 8 5-10 rounds
Yoga. Yoga is such a wonderful tool stress relief. Survivors of PTSD found after 10 weeks of a steady yoga practice they found significant results when other therapies, treatments and modalities did not work.
If you feel you could use deeper support, please reach out to your doctor.
I invite you to check out this free video where I offer different yoga postures, breath and the shake it out method to help you heal your nervous system. https://youtu.be/lWuueujHPaw