Can You Really Regulate Your Nervous System?
November 8, 2023
What Is the Nervous System?
The nervous system is what sends messages back and forth between your brain and your body. It includes the brain, spinal cord, and network of nerves. The brain controls all the functions of the body. The nervous system controls the body’s ability to walk, breathe, see, think, feel, and more.
Dysregulated Nervous System
Sometimes your nervous system can become dysregulated. This means there is an imbalance in the nervous system, which can cause several mental health issues including sudden erratic behaviors. For example, you might feel anxious and then depressed out of nowhere. A dysregulated nervous system can also give you migraines, anxiety, chronic pain, stress, and high or low blood pressure. Judy Ho, Ph.D., a licensed and triple board-certified clinical and forensic neuropsychologist, says many things can be the root cause of a dysregulated nervous system, but common causes are stress, poor sleep, traumatic events, relationship conflict, chronic anxiety, and depression.
How To Fix A Dysregulated Nervous System
Now, if you have a dysregulated nervous system some things may help you regulate it. Here are a few ways:
- Take Deep Breaths
The deep breathing technique is one you hear often. The reason for this is that it is still one of the most effective ways to regulate your nervous system. You can start with five minutes a day of breathing exercises; this can help tremendously.
Breathing exercises will reduce stress levels and realign your nervous system. Start by inhaling for four counts, then holding for four counts, exhaling for four counts, and then holding for four counts again. Repeat this process for a total of ten times. You can also try yoga classes that incorporate regular breathwork, such as alternate nostril breathing.
- Walk With Nature, Barefoot
By walking barefoot in nature, it can help regulate your nervous system. Your body receives electrons that promote relaxation when your feet touch the earth. This process connects you physically to the earth’s surface but also connects and grounds your nervous system. It is scientifically proven that nature has a calming effect on our minds. According to studies, this practice has helped inflammation, better sleep, nervous system balance, and reduced stress.
- Think Positive Thoughts
Negative thoughts can fill your mind when you are experiencing signs of a dysregulated nervous system. But thinking positively can prevent your mind from contemplating. The great news is that positive thoughts can be about anything! It could be a movie, book, or hobby you enjoy or plans you’re excited about.
Dr. Ho suggests singing the negative thoughts with the tune of an upbeat and positive song. For example, sing “I am extremely overwhelmed right now” to a positive, happy, upbeat song. “You’ll notice that it takes the air out of the negative thought, and you are more likely to take less stock in the doom and gloom thoughts that will further deregulate your nervous system,” she says. Singing also allows your breathing to slow down. Vocal stimulation is one of the quickest ways to transition from dysregulation to rest and digestion.
- Uninterrupted Sleep Cycle
One thing everyone loves is sleep!
Most people know how crucial sleep is, but do not understand how vital uninterrupted sleep is for your overall health and wellbeing. While sleeping, the body has a chance to repair and heal itself, so you don’t want to constantly wake up in the middle of sleeping every night. Unfortunately, a dysregulated nervous system can cause sleep problems. You can avoid this by not eating 2-3 hours before sleep, minimizing light exposure after sunset, and exposing your eyes to sunlight in the morning. Many people need 8-9 hours of sleep a night, but most Americans only get 4-6 hours a night. Try to keep your sleep schedule consistent. By keeping your sleep cycle consistent you can help your nervous system tremendously.
It’s important to always take care of ourselves and prevent measures like this from happening. Do you think you will try any of these practices?
Remember to always connect with a medical professional before engaging in any life-changing habits.
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