Your nervous system is so much more than a collection of nerves and neurons; it’s the highway that connects your brain to every other cell in your body. It’s what gives you clarity of thought, makes you feel good or bad, and even affects how you digest food. Your nervous system is directly connected to almost every part of your life - from stress levels to how well you sleep at night.
With so many different responsibilities, it’s no surprise that the nervous system is also incredibly sensitive. Any number of factors can lead to stress within the nervous system and have a wide variety of implications on our physical and mental health.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to heal your nervous system, both immediately and over time.
1. Try Shiatsu Therapy (trauma aware)
Shiatsu therapy has been used for millennia to reduce stress and promote healing. While the specific mechanisms by which it works aren’t fully understood, research shows that Shiatsu therapy can positively affect a number of different systems within the body. In particular, Shiatsu therapy has been shown to reduce stress on the nervous system by inhibiting the release of certain neurotransmitters and hormones.
The good thing about Shiatsu therapy is that it’s almost always safe, with very few (if any) side effects, so you can try it out and see how it affects your nervous system. One thing to keep in mind when trying for the first time is that it can sometimes induce a deeper state of relaxation and bring down protective barriers that can bring about strong emotional reactions.
2. Practice Breathing Exercises
Breathing is something we do without thinking about it, and we rarely stop to consider how it affects our health. Yet breathing is closely linked to our nervous system. Whenever you breathe more deeply, you activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps combat stress.
If you want to quickly relax and reduce stress within your system, try one of the following breathing exercises: - The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise: Inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, then exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat this cycle for 1 to 5 minutes.
The 3-2-1 Breathing Exercise: Inhale for 3 seconds, hold your breath for 2 seconds, then exhale for 1 second. Repeat this cycle for 1 to 5 minutes.
3. Go For A Walk
Walking is one of the easiest and most accessible things you can do to promote relaxation. It’s low-impact, so it won’t increase your risk of injury, and you can do it pretty much anywhere. Depending on your pace, walking can be a great way to reduce the amount of stress hormones in your system. It’s been shown to reduce cortisol levels by about 25% and increase serotonin levels by about 37% after just 30 minutes.
And walking isn’t just great for your nervous system - it’s also one of the best exercises you can do for your health. If you’re looking for a way to reduce stress and improve your health in one fell swoop, walking is a great option.
4. Get Enough Sleep
Your nervous system requires adequate sleep in order to function optimally. Sleep is when your body repairs and replenishes itself, and research has linked poor sleep to a wide variety of health issues, including stress. How much sleep you need will vary from person to person, but a general rule of thumb is that you should sleep for as long as you need to in order to feel fully rested.
If you tend to struggle with sleep (and, in turn, stress), there are a few things you can do to promote better sleep, including: - Make your sleeping environment comfortable. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and comfortable. You should be able to relax and fall asleep with ease.
Further more - create a night routine.
Creating a night routine that involves rituals are a great way to train the nervous system to move into alpha and delta states. Where you can start to heal, regenerate and recover.
Certain activities, like reading or listening to music, can promote relaxation and help you fall asleep faster.
Get exercise during the day. Exercising during the day can help you sleep better at night.
Limit caffeine, suger and alcohol consumption. These substances might make you feel more relaxed initially, but they can interfere with your sleep cycle and increase inflammation markers.
Try cognitive behavioral therapy. This form of therapy has been shown to reduce insomnia symptoms.
Don’t forget to eat good food. Avoid eating too close to bedtime.
5. Psychotherapy/Counselling - somatic based
Seeing a Psychologist, or a counsellor that has training in understanding the body component into their therapeutic framework is a must in many cases of chronic pain, chronic diseases, anxiety and depression.
Part of healing is understanding the whole, the mind, emotions and the body. A good therapist can help you integrate all those aspects and construct a toolkit you can use to troubleshoot your symptoms and triggers.
6. Don’t Forget To Eat Good Food
Your nervous system is largely made of up fat and minerals, many of which are obtained from the food you eat. Therefore, it’s important to include a variety of healthy, nutritious foods in your diet to keep your nervous system running smoothly.
Some key nutrients to focus on include:
B vitamins - B vitamins are essential for energy and stress reduction. Good sources include fish, meats, and legumes.
Iron - Iron is needed to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout your body. Iron deficiency can lead to feelings of fatigue and anxiety. Good sources include beef and spinach.
Zinc - Zinc is important for hormone regulation, immune function, and wound healing. Good sources include beef, chicken, and pumpkin seeds.
Magnesium - Magnesium is important for your brain, muscles, and nerves. Good sources include spinach, almonds, and cashews.
7. Learn How To Meditate
Meditation is a great way to reduce stress and promote a certain degree of relaxation in your body, particularly in your nervous system. There are numerous types of meditation, but the general idea is to focus on your breathing and slow your thoughts down so you can clear your mind of distractions.
Depending on the type of meditation you do, you can either focus on clearing your thoughts and becoming mindful, or you can try to visualize yourself in a relaxing space like a beach or a forest. I would suggest for beginners to listen to guided meditations on YouTube , or download apps that specialize in it, like CALM & HEADSPACE.
Your nervous system is incredibly complex, but it’s also incredibly sensitive. It’s the highway that connects your brain to every other cell in your body, and it’s what gives you clarity of thought, makes you feel good or bad, and even affects how you digest food. Your nervous system is directly connected to almost every part of your life, so it’s no surprise that it can be sensitive. Any number of factors can lead to stress within the nervous system, and it can have a wide variety of implications on your physical and mental health. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to heal your nervous system, both immediately and over time.