Calming the nervous system may sound like a big task, especially when many of us are used to living in high-alert and simply don't know how to easily switch off.
But instead of trying to tackle it all in one go, we're going to share with you a few ways that you can incorporate some new habits into your days that gradually help to calm the nerves. This means that instead of just focusing on feeling calmer for a few moments or a day, we want to teach the body how to remain in the calm zone as its default.
But first we need to understand... What even is the nervous system?
The sympathetic, parasympathetic and enteric nervous systems form the autonomic nervous system. An intricate and wonderful web of nerves that connect and are in contact with the entire body – every single bit!
They act in different key functions to keep your body moving, responding, sensing, processing and connected. The parasympathetic nervous system is the 'rest and digest' mode, with nerves all working on their accord. These nerves don't require conscious thought from our brain to direct them and to keep the body functioning 24/7.
While the sympathetic nervous system is the 'fight or flight' mode and is highly responsive to the environment and conscious input. Some examples are when we react to danger signals such as fire, storms, loud or strange noises, heightened work stress, triggers (visual, intuitive or emotional) such as an argument, the dark, shadows, smells, facial expressions and so on.
Developed from the days when survival depended on being aware of everything in our environment and making an instant response.
The enteric nervous system is called our second brain and manages our gastrointestinal tract – our digestion – from the first bite to the exit :) The enteric mostly manages well all by itself but is susceptible to our thoughts and emotions affecting its function.
Calming our nervous system and nourishing our body is essential to a happy and healthy life.
Creating the calm and knowing how to nourish can be tricky in the busyness of life and the incredible number of influences we experience continuously, many without even consciously registering them.
Just because we don’t consciously register something doesn’t mean we aren’t being affected by it.
Our body is an amazing, highly intelligent, intensely perceptive and sensitive, chemically and energetically diverse creation, incredibly in tune with its environment, inside and out, desiring always to function at its best.
Functioning at its best is how the body is hardwired. Called homeostasis, the body will continuously strive to be in balance, adjusting temperature, fluids, hormones, circulation and so on to do so.
As you can see, maintaining a routine of supporting the body with being nourished and in coming back to calm helps to stay in good health, have energy and be happy!
Here are 5 of our favourite ways to get there...
Different nutrients such as B vitamins and minerals such as selenium, chromium, magnesium are all conducive to bringing calm, creating resilience and connecting the nervous system in a way that is less vulnerable to stress.
Stress eating or not eating overloads or depletes the body completely, disabling the ability to cope with a situation and establishes patterns of behaviour in response to other situations the brain and body register to be similar.
It takes strength and training to not immediately reach for the cake or 'treat'! But when you instead reach for the banana, smoothie or herbal tea (which are all full of minerals and antioxidants to assist with the stress chemicals) the rewards are immense!
It also takes strength and training to reach for the banana, smoothie or herbal tea to assist with the stress chemicals when we don’t want to reach for anything at all, when running on empty and adrenalin seem enough.
Consciously registering the habit is the first step to realigning and balancing the nervous habit to nourish oneself through the stress and out the other side. As we nourish, we increase our ability to deal with stress, become more resilient and less prone to the triggers.
Nourish Blend is full of the essential vitamin and mineral groups that support the body on a cellular level and co-create health. Combined with adaptogenic herbs maca and liquorice that tone, strengthen and balance the sympathetic nervous system, particularly adrenal function, Nourish is a complete whole food for the body encouraging balanced, energy, endurance and resilience and alkalinity.
When we are stressed we become more acidic which leads to disease, poor mental health and fatigue. Our food absolutely is our medicine.
Regular meditation enables us to be in control of our responses and avoid repetitive behaviour that may be based on past experiences. Slipping into the 'fight or flight' mode to escape or be aggressive in a situation when sometimes all we need is the presence of mind, or centred thought and feeling.
To say with confidence “No, that doesn’t suit me, I choose this” can be the empowering step forward to establish self-control, self-awareness and reducing the self-sabotage cycle of reactive unconscious stress responses.
Hands up who has made a decision in panic and then with regret later thought, “If only I had said no or thought about it for a moment!"? We’ve all been there. But that doesn't mean we want to or need to stay there.
Meditation also aligns us with the happy hormones and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that induce positive thought, the ability to make clear and conscious choices, as opposed to reactively, defensively or impulsively.
Aromatherapy essential oils, shiatsu, acupressure or reflexology, trigger points, remedial massage and myofascial release all work to release, connect and deeply centre the physical, emotional and mental to one state of being. An ancient practice, massage is so healing on every level!
A good practitioner is able to work with you and support you in locating areas of congestion, tension, injury and connect everything back up again. With over 30 years in clinical practice working with holistic massage therapy techniques, founder Amanda is an advocate of the power of massage to heal, align, energise and connect the body to health and wellbeing.
Massage can be effective in simply reconnecting the brain back into the body, we call it the “out of body busyness”.
When we are disconnected from how we are truly feeling because we are so in our heads and thought processes, running on automatic. So many times the common expression is after a massage is, “I knew I was stressed but I had no idea my body felt so sore/tired/had so many tight spots!”.
Massage addresses the entire nervous system. Physically tapping into all the structures of the body – muscles, nerves, circulation, organs, skeletal and nourishing them, triggering the body to address functions that will initiate communication (hormones etc) repair, healing and elimination. Mentally allowing the receiver to connect with the body and relate to the actual state of being the body is in, calming the busy mind and aligning the mind with being still, in one place, present.
Emotionally with the sense of touch connecting and releasing energy, experiences, memories stored in the tissues and cells, allowing a sense of connection and safe unwinding, unravelling and being present.
It is powerful how the body will process during a massage. There are many types of massage; sports, remedial, aromatherapy, shiatsu, reiki, reflexology and so on. Finding a good practitioner to work with can be asking friends who they see or looking up the massage association in your area for accredited practitioners.
Nourishing yourself regularly with massage is a wise investment in your health and wellbeing creating a wonderful relationship with self-care and maintenance. Sip a cup of two of our replenishing Rest Easy Tisane to fully embrace the healing journey from busy to calm.
...and a well-researched tool for healing, health and wellbeing.
One good tune played loud can make your whole day wonderful and help to let go of a day that didn’t go quite to plan.
The frequencies of music, specifically Solfeggio frequencies, produce more positive effects on the body than any other sounds or tones. The answer lies in the Schumann resonance which is fondly referred to as the Earth's heartbeat, the electrically charged part of the Earth’s atmosphere.
Coming back around, these resonances correspond to the brainwave states delta, theta, alpha, beta and gamma that occur naturally all day from sleep to creating and learning. The 432 Hz frequency resonates with the Schumann Resonance of 8 Hz and is known for its deeply calming and soothing effects.
Playing music at this frequency is perfect for a calm mind, conducive to sleep and gentle exercise such a yoga. Different frequencies also affect the body’s ability to heal, repair and even our heart rate.
An example of 432hz music is this beautiful piece – listen and see if you can feel a difference in how you feel before and after.
The frequency of 528 Hz is believed to be so powerful that it can help repair DNA damage, bring peace and harmony, and restore equilibrium to everything around it.
It is believed that when your body is in harmony it vibrates at around 62–68Hz and anything lower than this can contribute to a weakened immune system. You can read more here. It's fascinating, but basically, the different frequencies of music can lift and improve the bodies ability to heal, process, our mental and emotional health or the opposite.
Next time you feel overwhelmed or stressed take a moment to select the music that might help lift you up out of that state, deliberately select something that has an uplifting sound or words to sing along to. Make several playlists of music for co-creating different moods or times of your week you know are intense to support you through. Life is better with music!
Float, feel free and be in an environment that is fully supportive of you.
A swimming pool, the ocean or a lake, even a delicious hot bath with your favourite salts and oils will do the magic - relax, calm, release the nervous system.
There is something about the weightlessness of being in water that helps your body to relax and your mind and nervous system to be free.
Float tanks with magnesium salts in the waters have become popular for people to enjoy as a way to embrace the freedom and calming influences of water. The benefits remain the same whether you are doing laps in a pool to exercise lungs, strengthen cardio and muscles, jumping into the salty sea, standing in a waterfall or floating in a freshwater lake.
Water is cleansing, clearing and calming to our physical, emotional and mental bodies, so go get wet!
Research shows regular swimming significantly decreases tension, fatigue, memory, and negative moods, relieves pain in people who suffer from rheumatism, fibromyalgia, or asthma and improves the general well-being of swimmers.
There is nothing better in later stages of pregnancy than the feeling of weightlessness and freedom of supported movement, floating, moving in the water. Great therapy for both mumma and bambino as the water fully supports body weight and the belly, helping to release muscular tension and the tight spine and pelvis that comes with the changed alignment as the baby bulge grows.
Having the belly supported also allows circulation and lymph fluids to flow more effectively, clearing any congestion and blockages. Some women experience the fluid build up in their pelvis, groin, ankles and legs to clear as the weight of their beautiful baby belly is suspended and lifted. It’s not until the heaviness of late pregnancy is lifted by a little floating that we realise how tiring it is when the body is sluggish and we experience better energy and calm.
WATSU is an adaptation of Zen Shiatsu with moving and stretching while floating in the water. You float and focus on your breathing while the WATSU practitioner takes you through the session helping with everything from PTSD to physical rehabilitation - bliss!
Try these tips to align the nervous system, bring calm to your life and nourish your body to health and happiness.
Let us know in the comments, which ones have you tried and which ones are you excited to try?
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