Are you finding it difficult to carry out simple everyday tasks? Does making a simple mistake make you feel gripped by intense fear? Do you constantly feel on edge, as if your body’s fight or flight response is always triggered?
If you’ve been facing any of these or similar types of issues, then your nervous system might be dysregulated. A dysregulated nervous system can disrupt your life, affecting not only your mental health but also your physical well-being, and can ultimately impact your productivity, relationships, and normal bodily functions.
Thankfully, there are ways in which you can alleviate this problem. Keep reading to learn more about the dysregulated nervous system, why it harms your body, and how to bring it back to balance.
The Role of the Nervous System
The primary job of the nervous system is to transmit signals from the brain to the rest of the body. The nervous system also maintains optimum conditions inside our bodies and allows us to move voluntarily, helping us see, think, and memorize clearly.
From basic bodily processes like breathing to complex ones like thinking, the nervous system optimizes our body functions. And while it doesn’t take much to put it under stress, the nervous system handles stress well, too.
However, once in a while the amount of stress can overwhelm the nervous system, be it due to specific triggers, traumatic events, or simply feeling overwhelmed. This can further affect our normal bodily functions, and if left unchecked, this long-term stress can lead to bigger, life-threatening problems.
Nervous system dysregulation may occur in response to trauma, chronic stress, chemical imbalances in the body, or PTSD.
How Do You Know if Your Nervous System Needs a Break?
If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms frequently, your nervous system might be dysregulated. And it means that it’s time for a reset.
Look out for instances when:
- You’re feeling overwhelmed or exhausted
- You’re overthinking
- You’re feeling angry, anxious, or terrified
- You might be shutting down or dissociating
- You’re engaging in codependent behavior patterns
- You’re experiencing mood swings
- You can’t focus or concentrate
- You’re more forgetful
- You’re depressed
In addition to these, you may also experience physical symptoms such as:
- Nausea or stomach pain
- Irritable bowel
- Irregular breathing or heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Sweaty palms
- Hormone dysfunction
- Poor immune system
In most instances of nervous system dysregulation, normal tasks like sleeping and eating will also become challenging to carry out.
Therapies to Calm and Reset Your Whole Body Nervous System
It may not always be possible to prevent your nervous system from going into overdrive each time it perceives a threat or gets stressed. But you can still restore it to its calm state using the following methods.
Qigong Shaking and Tapping
The Chinese healing practice of Qigong involves a series of exercises that help regulate the breath, body, and mind. Qigong exercises are designed to remove energy blockages in the body to restore the harmonious flow of energy. By regularly practicing Qigong exercises, you can not only reduce stress but also alleviate the other symptoms of nervous system dysregulation.
Qigong tapping and shaking are two qigong exercises that regulate the nervous system. As the name suggests, Qigong shaking and tapping involve moving the body and tapping it in particular places. Tapping is a form of self-acupressure for the body’s fascial network, which can get tensed due to long-term stress.
Qigong tapping helps release pent-up energy in certain body parts, often acquired due to emotional imbalances or stress. Qigong shaking can be used to calm the nervous system as well as for increasing energy levels and improving focus.
Qigong shaking and tapping together can improve the body and nervous system balance.
Inducing Neurogenic Tremors
Dr. David Berceli created neurogenic tremors as part of the Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). The TREs help release deep trauma accumulated in the body due to stress or traumatic experiences.
Also known as therapeutic tremoring, this type of nervous system regulation therapy helps calm an overactive hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, which is known for regulating our stress responses, emotions, energy, etc.
Neurogenic tremors are similar to shaking movements but originate in the lower parts and spread throughout the body. These tremors move along the spine to release tension from your sacrum to the cranium region.
These shaking movements are a natural body stress response that a licensed practitioner can also induce.
Neurogenic tremors also help patients release emotions in a deeply relaxed state. Not only does this help resolve their nervous system imbalances but it improves the body’s resiliency against similar stressors in the future.
All these reasons also make induced neurogenic tremoring a popular treatment for those suffering from PTSD.
Breathwork is a miraculous therapy you can try anywhere and anytime. But not all types of breathing will prove equally effective at resetting the nervous system.
That’s where circular breathing comes in.
Unlike other types of breathing exercises, circular breathing is known to reduce stress at a significant level.
In circular breathing, you breathe through the nose, store the breath in your cheeks, and then exhale through the mouth. This is a common practice among players of wind instruments since it allows them to maintain constant exhalation/continuous sound.
Circular breathing is also a popular remedy used in obstructive sleep apnea therapy to deal with insomnia.
This type of breathwork also assists in releasing negative energy and tension in the body. It can be practiced during stressful events and afterward to help reduce accumulated stress.
Circular breathing promotes restful sleep, lowers blood pressure, improves mood, and boosts focus.
Sound bathing is a form of full-body meditation/music therapy in which a person is exposed to sound waves in a dedicated space under the guidance of a sound practitioner.
The person lies down on their back and is exposed to sound waves for about 15 to 60 minutes, providing a healing experience.
These sound waves are typically produced with instruments such as chimes, gongs, percussion, tuning forks, Tibetan singing bowls, rattles, and bells. The different sound frequencies from these sources are used to move energy stuck in certain parts of the body and relieve pain.
A sound bath experience is similar to meditation and yields benefits like better mood, reduced tension and fatigue, and improved well-being.
Sound baths are an ideal choice of therapy for people who need a passive form of treatment with minimal movement or activity.
Laughter yoga combines yoga and laughter exercises, thus delivering both benefits.
Also known as Hasya Yoga in Sanskrit, this therapy focuses on relaxing the body and mind by reducing stress levels. According to studies, laughter yoga has many positive effects on health, with notable results like improved sleep, alleviating anxiety and depression, and better social function.
Studies also suggest that hearing laughter can improve the recovery process of the autonomic nervous system, especially after performing a stress-inducing task.
Laughter yoga therapy can reduce your risk of chronic illnesses, increasing your lifespan.
Crying/Intense Grief Therapy
Also known as tears therapy or Rui-katsu in Japanese, cry therapy is a form of therapy that helps release stress and pent-up emotions through tears.
Extensive research confirms that crying is good for us as it can help flush out toxins from our system and even increase the circulation of feel-good chemicals.
Crying also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, a network of nerves regulating life-sustaining bodily processes. This network of nerves is also responsible for relaxing your body after exposure to stressful situations.
By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, crying helps us self-soothe and allows our body to rest and relax.
However, self-induced crying may not come as easily to everyone, and not all kinds of crying are necessarily therapeutic. Especially when a dysregulated nervous system makes regulating your emotions difficult.
That’s where facilitated therapeutic crying comes in.
Facilitated therapeutic crying ensures the person is comfortable and can engage in crying therapy that heals. It is facilitated by a skilled therapist who provides a supportive and safe environment for a therapeutic emotional release.
Abhyanga is an ancient Ayurvedic practice of self-massage using herbal oils. It has been practiced for thousands of years to help restore energy flow and address various health concerns.
Touch has profound power. Affectionate touch releases oxytocin, a hormone that helps reduce stress and anxiety. And this healing power of touch is what Abhyanga draws upon.
Abhyanga must thus be practiced with love and care. Massaging your entire body, from head to toe, with long strokes helps boost circulation, reduces stress, improves lymphatic drainage, strengthens your joints and body tissues, enhances sleep patterns, and improves nervous system health. It is also great for improving your skin and hair health.
To practice Abhyanga, first choose a high-quality oil like sesame, coconut, sunflower, or jojoba oils. You can also use herb-infused oils. Place a bottle of the oil in hot water to warm it up for your massage. Gently massage your entire body, including your scalp, using deep, long strokes along your long bones and circular motions over your joints usually with 5 repetitions at each area. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes, then take a warm bath/shower.
This simple, 10-minute practice can enhance your overall quality of life.
Benefits of Resetting Your Whole Body Nervous System
Besides reduced stress levels and optimal bodily functioning, a calm nervous system also provides other attractive benefits. Some of these are:
- Improved sleep and appetite
- Improved brain function and longer attention span
- Normal blood pressure
- Improved emotional health
- Reduced risk of disease
- Improved performance at work and home
Your nervous system is flexible and built to handle daily stressors easily. It takes a lot for the nervous system to go out of order, but if it does, these reset therapies can help you balance your body and mind.
Regular reset therapies can reduce stress and improve your quality of life. If your symptoms are too debilitating, it is best to seek help from a qualified therapist who can assess common stressors in your lifestyle and suggest effective ways to combat them. With consistent practice, you can quickly restore balance to your dysregulated nervous system.