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Tips for Nervous System Regulation

Targeting Trauma on PTSD Awareness Month Our nervous system is likely one of the most complex and organized networks that we have access to throughout our lives as human beings. However, for us to learn how to improve the ways we might be able to regulate our nervous system and, consequently, have better control of how we manage our organic responses to our feelings, we must first learn a few things. The sympathetic nervous system is the part of our nervous system that determines our reactions when it comes to dangerous situations — for instance, fight or flight type of scenarios.

our parasympathetic system monitors our relaxation responses, also known as the calming or regenerative responses. Every healing process that our bodies go through takes place in that restorative system. Blood pressure drops, heart rate goes down, blood sugar regulates, heart rate variability (HRV) goes up, and immune function strengthens. That’s why it’s immensely important for us to acquire daily habits that activate this branch, and in turn, we will acquire a calmer sympathetic nervous system.
The tactics most of us utilize when we, consciously or subconsciously, strive to deal with our feelings are considered far from ideal. Those include: playing video games, binging on visual content through streaming and/or on-demand services, using illegal substances, and other activities that would be categorized as high risk.

The human nervous system is also constantly shifting through great volumes of data while examining environments and intaking surroundings. The system is sophisticated enough to match incoming sensory data with previously loaded data to then identify specific patterns.

A key element in controlling our nervous system is the vagus nerve, which has been historically referred to as the pneumogastric nerve and interfaces with the parasympathetic control of our lungs, heart, and digestive tract. Individuals with surgically implanted devices may not be able to directly stimulate their vagus nerve but most of us have the ability to indirectly stimulate the nerve to relieve stressed out situations or mild down other nervous system states. Practices that regulate the vagus nerve usually seek to either relax or re-energize ourselves, depending on what is needed for our bodies to feel balanced. Self-care practices can certainly be important. But, it is also valuable to know how and when to consider seeking professional therapeutic help if the nervous system regulation remains a struggle. Furthermore, other physical conditions that may impair the ways in which our nervous system functions include high blood pressure and high blood sugar levels, or diabetes. Thus, avoiding these diagnoses, to begin with, may make a huge difference in the long run. Other overall useful tips are: Exercising regularly using an ideal and/or personalized exercise plan; not smoking or using tobacco products; and getting plenty of rest.

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