Our nervous system is an intuitive intelligence and natural response to everything we feel and experience. When we are stressed or overworked, our nervous system will naturally send signals to our mind and body that we need to slow down. If we’re feeling sad or overwhelmed our nervous system will tell us that we need to protect ourselves. But a lot of us tend to ignore these signals. We power through stress and push down feelings of sadness, which means that our nervous system ends up unable to tell us what we really need in each moment and we start to feel completely out of balance.
When your nervous system is out of balance, you might have been under a lot of stress for a prolonged period of time. Your body has been producing high levels of stress hormones to keep you sharp and alert, but you haven’t allowed yourself time to come back down. This can lead to both physical and mental problems. A few things that can indicate stress and an overworked nervous system are:
Our sympathetic nervous system is our fight and flight mode, it becomes active when we’re stressed or even just busy, and while there’s nothing wrong with being in this state of mind, if we spend too much time here, we might start to feel stressed, burnt out and fatigued. We can use our breath to signal to our brain that we need to switch to our parasympathetic nervous system, which is where we rest and restore. It can be as simple as focusing on your breath for a moment and consciously making your exhalation longer than your inhalation. You can also dive into a calming breathwork session like this one or use a slow Yin class like this one to activate your parasympathetic nervous system.
If you’re feeling a bit wired or anxious, your nervous system might be stressed and that 6th cup of coffee is not going to help. Reducing your caffeine intake by limiting both coffee, tea and even green tea will give the food adrenals some much needed rest and it’ll help you calm your nervous system.
Much like breath work can help us find our rest and digest mode, Yin yoga also helps us activate our parasympathetic nervous system, when we slow down and breathe deep as we settle into each pose. Try one of these Yin Yoga classes from The Self Care Space library to calm your nervous system and take care of your mind and body.
A simple and effective way to reset your mental patterns and switch your mindset from feelings of anxiety or stress to happiness and joy, is to move your body. Movement boosts hormones like dopamine and our endorphin levels to help us feel lighter and more positive. If you’re feeling stuck in negative thought patterns, try going for a brisk walk, do a yoga flow or dance around the living room to reset your energy and restore your nervous system. Try one of these yoga flows from The Self Care Space library, to get the body moving.
Have you ever noticed your dog doing a big shake after or big game of chase around the dog park? Animals have a natural stress response where they literally “shake it off”. Humans not so much. We tend to bury stress with tighter deadlines and longer to-do list, but ignoring signs of stress and fatigue, means we’re ignoring our nervous system. But because shaking is a natural way for the body to release tension, we can use similar techniques as the animals to return the body to its normal homeostasis and start to repair our nervous system.
Stand up and start by shaking your feet one at the time, and move up throughout the whole body, shaking legs, arms, body and head until you’re shaking everything at once. You can do this for as long as you feel comfortable. When you finish, close your eyes and stand still for a moment, noticing the energy running through your body and tuning into how you feel. Try this Shake up and Shift off ritual from the library.
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