Updated: Apr 14
In my opinion nervous system regulation is still massively overlooked in my line of work, but it is becoming more recognised. Let me give you a brief overview of why the nervous system is so important to our mental wellbeing...
Throughout the day our autonomic nervous system sends messages to the brain based on what we experience.
Our brain will then attempt to make sense of this message from our bodies by creating a story or narrative that becomes our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us.
It's called neuroception.
It's basically the way the nervous system interprets what we experience without us using our conscious, logical parts of our brain.
Our autonomic nervous system is shaped from childhood. So, our current experiences are also shaped by our past.
An example: if we experienced a lot of unpredictability, chaos, or lack of connection, our nervous system will consistently scan our environment for cues of safety and danger. If our nervous system picks up on cues that we are not safe, our thoughts could become racing and we may be triggered and become defensive. We believe that we are unsafe in our world. If we have a history of not feeling safe, we may actually become hypervigilant in situations where danger does not exist (eg. misreading a neutral facial expression for anger or hostility). Or we may struggle to be aware of when we are in danger because of a lack of ability to pickup cues.
When our nervous system is regulated we feel connected, creative, self-compassionate. Our thoughts are safe thoughts of belonging. We have no need to self-protect.
Tips to regulate your nervous system:
Get in touch with the way you feel and try and ground yourself in your body.
Prioritise understanding what your feelings are telling you about your needs.
Work out what your needs are.
Work on communicating your needs in healthy ways.
Self-soothe in appropriate ways i.e. yoga, meditation, activities that make you loose track of time, enjoyable movement, human connection.
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