Nervous System Overload

Stressed?  Of course you are.  We all are.  Our nervous systems are still living in the stone age, when stress was a very different animal.  Back in the days before cell phones, mechanized transit, and artificial light at night, our nervous systems evolved to keep us alive.  Our fight or flight response was developed to kick in and make us run from threats.  When the fight or flight response is triggered, our blood flow is directed to our skeletal muscles so that we can flee the threat.  Our digestion halts, our pupils dilate to let in more light, and our body is charged with endorphins that give us extra energy (sympathetic response).  This response is very helpful for a quick getaway, and once we are safe, the response dissipates and our resting nervous system takes over (parasympathetic response).

 

Enter modern life, with constant input to our nervous systems.  Driving a car, checking email, answering cell phone calls and messages – all of this combines to give repeated stress to our overtaxed nervous systems, keeping us in sympathetic nervous system mode.  When we feel attacked, upset, or simply overwhelmed by these stresses, our nervous system gets stuck in reaction mode.  Sometimes, we can’t turn that off, which results in poor sleep, fatigue, anxiety, or depression.  Sound familiar?

 

How to bring balance back to our over-taxed selves?  Minimizing nervous system input while eating and before bed is crucial.  We do not digest if we are stressed.  Sit quietly while eating, enjoy your food, chew well and focus on digestion.  1 hour before bed should be set aside for winding down, and allowing your nervous system to relax into parasympathetic mode.  In addition, regular craniosacral therapy can help tonify and re-train your nervous system to maintain a more relaxed state.

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Posted in fatigue, health, insomnia, naturopathic medicine, Portland, stress