Let’s begin. In my opinion, the most widely experienced barrier to vitality for all humans is stress – particularly overstimulation, leading to disembodiment. We are an overstimulated population and in my private practice each day, this is visible to me. Psychologically and physiologically, our body-minds are not equipped to deal with the influx of stimulus that 21st century, highly technological living deals out.
I view (and at points experience) lots of “headiness” – we ruminate, overthink and become unconscious to the sensate, very alive body we exist within.
Which is WHY we require intentional actions and behaviours that mitigate this. I recognise that we cannot always avoid overstimulation. However, we can educate ourselves on our hardware, our wiring and our needs for play, rest, release and engagement.
Stress doesn’t need to be a norm, and to show up presently and engage in our life completely, stress resilience is a necessity. Learning and understanding our stress responses through developing relationship with our nervous systems empowers.
a dynamic, robust and vital human nervous system can move between states of activation, relaxation, pleasure, sleep, moments of stress with relative ease. A healthy nervous system is not a consistently relaxed system – it is a system that effectively meets life without getting stuck in patterns of hypervigilance or overwhelm. It’s a system where we can meet our edges safely and return with ease to a sense of steady embodiment.
Does this sound like you? If not, you’re not alone. Nervous system tending is a big part of my healing, having lived in a perpetual state of flight for many years, leading to adrenal fatigue. Part of my journey was, yes, leaning into comfort, rest and recuperation. Rest is essential. Another part was gently and slowly creating a wider window of tolerance and resilience (this refers to a capacity to engage in challenges without lasting dysregulation).
As I mentioned earlier, our societal structure does not support healthy nervous systems. Intentional practices and increased awareness is how we regulate – and therapeutic support is often recommended, particularly if trauma is involved (trauma has a huge impact on our systems, generating patterns of fear responses, hypervigilance and freeze).
Below I’ve shared a few prompts to begin to develop a sense of connection to your nervous system, and an understanding of how you respond to stress.
1. What body-based experiences do you notice that let you know you’re stressed or “activated”?
2. What body-based experiences do you notice that let you know you’re relaxed and comfortable?
3. What body-based experiences do you notice that let you know you’ve “checked-out”?
4. How do you like to rejuvenate? Is resting a priority?
5. Does resting feel easy for you?
6. How do you feel when meeting challenges? Ie competent, avoidant, anxious
7. How do you feel in relationship to others? Ie not enough, competitive, connected? (Yes our nervous system plays a large role in how we relate!)
8. What makes you feel safe? What makes you feel unsafe? (Remember, the nervous system is our survival system).
Lastly, one of the most accessible regulation tools is to engage the senses and NOTICE yourself as part of life.
Make it a daily practice to notice what you feel on the skin, and within, what you’re seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling. Sensate-based mindfulness experiences are paramount in not only creating a template for effective embodiment, they’re a tool to promote presence.
Presently, authentically inhabiting our lives, our bodies and our joy. An invitation from me to you – befriend your nervous system.
*Please note that Polyvagal Theory and Nervous System work is much more nuanced and complex than what can be shared in an introductory blog post.