Scroll in to the chart below and familiarize yourself with your nervous system. Why ? It’s easy to focus on tissues, muscles, bones, joints and I get it, I’ve got a pile of structural issues that could cause me great pain.
But I’ve become less interested in focusing on making structural changes in my body and more interested in regulating my nervous system.
Why? A hyper- aroused system ( and you’d be surprised how much we live in fight or flight) FEELS tight, rigid, guarded, stiff, pain sensitive ... all the things that we actually need to run, fight, flee, escape that chasing tiger 🐅
We are in that pink zone a lot. When we drink too much coffee, when we hear those little dings and pings, when we have too much going on in a day, when we travel, when we’re around people are not healthy for us ( or our nervous systems) - and that may be someone you live with.
If you’ve experienced trauma, particularly childhood trauma, your nervous system wired developmentally in that pink or blue zone. But the nervous system is plastic ... pliable. You CAN rewire pathways to live in the yellow. And your body will feel much better there.
What happens in the regulated zone ? COMFORT. Calm, cool, collected, connected, and I’ll add comfortable. Its the zone of ease.
How do we create and maintain the comfort zone? The first step is to really begin to FEEL your nervous system. Notice, observe, sense .. throughout the day.
Everyone's different, but for ME , that pink zone feels like racing thoughts, shortness of breath, muscle tension, and even sometimes like productive HIGH energy. So it's not always a bad sensation, sometimes it's more of a ... I'm ON today and I'm gettin' stuff done! Sometimes it keeps me from falling asleep at night, or wakes me up early in the morning. Sometimes it feels like I've had two cups of coffee when I haven't had any. And sometimes it feels like an impending sense of doom or discomfort in my physical body.
On the flip side, the blue state can feel like I'm dragging my body around with 10lb weights on my ankles. It's a deep bone fatigue. A tired when I've slept for 10 hours. Sometimes it even feels a bit numb which might also be considered a "freeze" state. My brain just doesn't want to fire or wake up, and my body is slow to move.
I am always happy to discover myself in the regulated state, and I try to really sit in that state as long as I can. To deeply FEEL my nervous system there so I can come back to it more frequently and with ease. For me, regulation feels like comfort. I am at home in my body, mind, and spirit. All is well in the world and I am safe. My physical body feels ready to move, go, and do, but I don't have a sense of tightness or rigidity. Not too heavy or too light. I feel rested, alert, and present. It's the best state to learn, love, share, parent, work, and rest. Ahhhhh if we could all live in a state of regulation what would our world be like ?
And that's just it. If you're one of the lucky few who lives most of their lives in a state of nervous system regulation consider yourself well wired! For the rest of us, it becomes a practice.
If you have any history of trauma and particularly childhood trauma, your nervous system was likely wired in a state of sympathetic overload - or what we call fight or flight. You were wired to be hyper-vigilant because your world was not safe. The good news is the nervous system is "plastic" and adaptable, and with proper care healing can happen.
Just as you train your bones, joints, and muscles, we must train our nervous systems to move in and out of dysregulated states with ease. To down regulate and also up-regulate, as well as sustain that easeful comfort zone.
If you are interested in hearing more on this topic, I did a great interview podcast with therapist Kelley Munger who specializes in this type of work. Her episode can be found HERE or episode 14 at Forever Fused on iTunes apple podcast player or stitcher.