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  • emilygilliland8

Nervous system regulation, why it's the foundation of change

Regulating your nervous system is crucial for maintaining overall well-being, but what does it entail, and how can you achieve it? And why is it important when you want to make changes in midlife?

To begin, let's clarify what nervous system regulation means. Essentially, it refers to achieving a balance in your body's responses to stressors, allowing you to adapt effectively without feeling overwhelmed. It involves transitioning smoothly between different states of arousal, from relaxed to alert, as needed.

What is your nervous system?

The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) serves as the body's unconscious control centre, operating within the central nervous system. Comprising two interconnected branches, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, it regulates homeostasis across psychological and physiological states, maintaining balance within the body.

The Sympathetic Nervous System initiates when faced with urgent or stressful situations, activating the fight or flight response. This response is crucial for survival, as it prompts the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones elevate heart rate, breathing speed, and blood pressure levels, providing essential resources for either confrontation or escape.

Conversely, the Parasympathetic Nervous System governs relaxation and recovery. Activation of this system occurs during activities such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing. It facilitates functions like digestion, immune response, and tissue repair, promoting overall well-being and restoration.

What does it mean to have a regulated nervous system?

Nervous System Regulation is essentially our ability to adjust smoothly into different states of arousal - the fight. flight, freeze response of our sympathetic nervous system and the calm, restful response of our parasympathetic - when faced with stressful situations.

Put simply, it means that when our environment changes or becomes stressful, we can adapt without feeling overwhelmed. And once the stressful situation is over, we can return to our normal state of calm.

Having this flexibility gives us a feeling of control and confidence, allowing us to navigate the world with ease. When our nervous system is regulated, we feel safe and secure in our own bodies.

On the other hand, a dysregulated nervous system feels like being overwhelmed and powerless. We might struggle to control our reactions to triggers, even after they've passed.

Chronic nervous system dysregulation can lead to various symptoms and conditions, making being in our bodies uncomfortable or even frightening.

Trauma, burnout, illness, and chronic pain often result from an overwhelmed nervous system. These issues are particularly likely to crop up during perimenopause and midlife and can cause a huge number of issues. This is why it's so important to create and maintain a regulated nervous system.

What can I do to create nervous system regulation?

Wondering how to regulate your nervous system? Check out these strategies:

  1. Somatic coaching: Therapeutic coaching is designed to help you tap into your body's sensations (your soma) and to explore what is happening when you think about stressful situations. Giving you tools to calm your nervous system and your fight and flight responses.

  2. Mindfulness Practices: Try meditation, deep breathing, or yoga. They promote relaxation and reduce stress by enhancing present-moment awareness, fostering calmness, and soothing an overactive nervous system.

  3. Healthy Lifestyle Habits: Prioritise self-care by ensuring adequate sleep, maintaining a balanced diet, and staying hydrated. These habits support overall wellness and help your body cope with stressors effectively.

  4. Physical Exercise: Get moving! Regular exercise releases endorphins, natural mood boosters, and lowers stress hormone levels. Aim for a mix of cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises to maximise benefits.

  5. Boundary Setting: Establish healthy boundaries in relationships and daily life. Recognise your limits and communicate your needs assertively. Setting boundaries prioritises self-care and protects your emotional well-being.

  6. Social Support: Build strong social connections and lean on friends, family, or a therapist when needed. Having a supportive network provides emotional reassurance and buffers against stress.

Regulating your nervous system is absolutely key to improving overall well-being and improving how we think, feel and act. By incorporating mindfulness, exercise, healthy habits, social support, boundary setting, and professional help when needed, you can begin the journey toward healing and restoring balance. Remember, everyone's path is unique, so be patient and kind to yourself along the way.

If you need some help and feel you would benefit from therapeutic coaching, check out or midlife coaching page to see how we can help.

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