Health & Wellness

3 Ways To Relax Your Nervous System

April 12, 2023

Serenity Here
I devour health and wellness information, and love to share everything that works in my life, so you can use the same self care and lessons in yours!
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Navigating the difference between your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. 

I  ran across the term sympathetic dominance recently, and it was like the bell started ringing – ding! Yes. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for to describe this overtaxed state we find ourselves in. 

It’s all too real for most of us, and as I described in my recent post about busyness, and why it’s so hard for women to slow down, I had a nervous breakdown at the peak of what used to be my career when I was climbing the corporate ladder. 

Stress isn’t a bad thing, and I know it’s been demonized in the media, but we do actually need it. It’s there for a reason, and keeps us safe. But, it can move in the wrong direction quickly, and as a consequence, tax our system. Especially our central nervous system. 

When we ride this system to the ground, it causes sympathetic dominance, and becomes the dominating system in our body. This is certainly not the system we want dominating us. 

The Sympathetic Nervous System is what activates your “fight or flight.” You know, like when you’re being chased by a tiger. Okay, what’s the likelihood that that’s happened? Maybe better to say: like when you’re in danger or you feel threatened in some way. 

Think back to a time when someone pulled in front of you on the road, and cut you off. It creates some slight panic in your body, activating your fight or flight, because for a brief moment, you feel like you might be in danger of getting into a car accident. 

This is okay, when we can shake it off, and go about our day. The problem is we don’t typically shake things off, they keep coming at us, constantly. 

More than half of Americans are stressed, and a large percentage are chronically stressed. This kind of stress is detrimental to our health and well being. 

It can be like a domino effect, where the stress of one thing triggers another, and eventually everything comes crashing down. 

And do we dare get into how technology has completely outpaced what we are able to handle. Everything is ever changing and moving fast, and as a species we simply haven’t evolved to keep up with this kind of pace. 

We’re finding ourselves less in a parasympathetic state – rest and digest. But, we need to turn the wheel.  We should be predominantly in this state. 

This is where we rest. Where we feel calm, and our blood pressure is level. It’s where our food is able to move through our system at a pace just slow enough to be fully digested, to allow our system to pull the nutrients it needs, and to nourish our body. 

It’s where we feel safe, and when we feel safe, healing can happen. 

It wasn’t until I started massage school that I learned about this system. I mean, I really learned about it. It became really important to me at that time, not only to ensure that I was living in alignment with this system, but that I was also able to start to look at my trauma and how it was affecting my life and playing a role with my nervous system’s dysregulation. 

Having experienced significant trauma at a young age, I developed an eating disorder as a young adult, and then fought an addiction to busyness for two decades, before finally slowing down to fully heal. 

As a body work practitioner, it became a non-negotiable to take care of myself, in order to bring health and healing to others. 

I believe we need to be responsible for the energy we bring into a space we enter, and because I am in the business of supporting others to regulate their nervous system, I know that having a regulated nervous system of my own is a must.  

I’ve been able to intentionally flip the dominance of my nervous system from sympathetic dominance to parasympathetic dominance, and although it has been a long journey and not an easy one, I have never felt more at peace, and in alignment in mind and body. 

It is my ultimate mission to help others do the same. 

I had my first massage when I was 17. And one every few years after that. It wasn’t until I was in massage school, that I received what I consider my first real massage. 

What do I mean by that?

Most of us have been massaged outside a professional setting. Shoulder rubs, foot massages, etc. by a loved one or friend. And until I had my first truly therapeutic massage, I didn’t really understand what was so great about massages. Yikes, yes I just said that. 

I found some of them somewhat relaxing, but I’m talking about a massage that takes you into a state of joy and bliss. One that takes you to a deep level of rest, where you float between your conscious and unconscious mind. 

Some words that I’ve had clients use are: trance, transcendent, and therapeutic. It’s healing on a cellular level. 

So that’s where we’ll start when diving into how to relax and reset your nervous system. 

3 Ways to Relax and Reset your Nervous System:

  1. Massage. A mind body massage experience. Not just any massage, but a truly healing experience with a trained massage therapist, who is able to use flow and healing touch that brings you into the deepest state of relaxation. 
  1. Breathwork. There are so many different forms of breathwork that are available now. And so many that can help to calm everything down and signal to your nervous system that you are safe and calm. Even better, this can be done anywhere. 
  1. Nature. Mother nature is such a loving mother to us all. She knows best. Taking a walk outside, listening to the birds, and feeling the sun on your face are all great ways to access what she has to offer. Another way to access her, is to take your shoes off, and step into the grass, take a few moments to feel her under your feet, and get grounded. 

I love to talk about all things self care, and making sure your nervous system is in alignment can be hard when we are so conditioned to hustle all the time. But, the reality is that we have to untrain ourselves from this habit. 

We have to realize that slowing down and doing things that are nourishing to ourselves, is serving and showing up in a bigger way, even when it doesn’t feel like it at first. 

We often feel like we have to be producing something all the time, and can get lost in the drive. Putting ourselves first and ensuring we are taking good care of ourselves, ensures we can do all the things we want to move forward with in a healthy way. 

Maybe not as fast, but don’t forget that slow and steady wins the race!

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