5 Fantastic Reasons Why It’s So Important to Calm Your Nervous System
In 1881, American neurologist George Miller Beard, posited that we all had a certain amount of "nerve force".
This nerve force was a finite resource that could be depleted like a battery. And this depletion could lead to anxiety, exhaustion and even a nervous breakdown.
And the cause?
“The chief and primary cause of this … very rapid increase of nervousness is modern civilisation,” he wrote.
140 years later, Dr Beard’s words still ring true.
In fact, according to a 2017 study by the World Health Organization, an estimated 264 million people suffer from anxiety disorders globally.
These days, in light of late-stage capitalism, a climate emergency and the tail-end of a global pandemic, stress levels are greater than ever.
So if you’re feeling like your nervous system is completely overwhelmed right now, you’re not alone.
Which is why now is the perfect time to prioritise calming your nervous system.
5 reasons why calming your nervous system is important
1. Better health
Stress can affect every area of your body, from your ability to fight off viruses to how you digest food. When you feel stress, hormones flood the body in response to threat and danger.
These primal responses are what helped our ancestors survive. However, they are meant to be fleeting. Your nervous system is supposed to come back to a state of calm.
But when you experience chronic stress and trauma, you may become hypervigilant and be unable to return to a relaxed state. This is why learning to calm your nervous system is an important skill to cultivate.
By regularly soothing your nervous system, you’ll counteract the damaging effects of stress. You’ll boost your immunity, improve digestion, and become more resilient.
2. Better sleep
Stress and an overactive nervous system have an impact on sleep duration & quality. If you’re often in a state of high alert, it can cause anxious thoughts and delay the onset of sleep.
And the real kicker? Insufficient sleep can then cause further stress.
By adopting a restful bedtime routine you can soothe your nervous system and have deep, good quality sleep.
Which means you won’t be tossing and turning, or lying awake for hours, and you’ll wake up feeling refreshed.
3. Less anxiety
Anxiety is a result of a chronically activated nervous system.
Your nervous system is like a car. The sympathetic nervous system is the accelerator. It gives you a burst of energy to evade danger.
The parasympathetic nervous system is the brake. It calms the body down after the danger has passed.
A healthy nervous system manages or ‘regulates’ this energy well. Which means a well-regulated nervous system can easily shift from stress back to calm.
But if your nervous system is always hitting the gas pedal, you never get to stop the car. Which leads to exhaustion, anxiety and overwhelm
By practising being calm and regularly soothing your nervous system, you become more well-regulated. You’ll feel calmer more often and experience less anxiety.
4. More joy
Being calm means you’re able to be present and enjoy life. Instead of ruminating about the past or worrying about the future, you’re able to pay attention to the good things that are in your life right now.
Plus, there’s a strong link between happiness and stress relief. One study from 2008 found that positive emotions such as joy, contentment, or appreciation have lasting benefits.
So doing little things to boost your mood really can have a lasting effect on your resilience toward stress - creating a positive cycle of happiness and calm.
5. Happier relationships
Stress takes its toll on relationships. It leads to conflict, hostility and breakdowns. Stress is also contagious. Which means you can ‘catch’ stress from your partner, leading to a negative cycle of bickering and frazzled nerves.
But learning to calm your nervous system increases oxytocin - a bonding hormone that strengthens love and healthy attachment.
Plus, calm is also contagious. Soothing another person is called co-regulation. Your calm can become an amplifier for their parasympathetic nervous system, helping them to access calm.
So by regularly experiencing calm in your own body, your partner may feel less stress too. And you’ll both have a calmer, happier, more intimate relationship.
How to calm down your nervous system naturally
Calming your nervous system doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s about doing small things each day that help you slow down and come home to yourself.
You could try:
- Listening to meditones®
- Deep belly breathing
- A weighted blanket
- A warm shower or Epsom Salt bath
- Yoga or gentle stretching
- Placing your legs up the wall
- A nice cup of tea
- Listening to calming music
- Hugging a loved one
- Patting a beloved pet
- Spending time in nature
- EMDR Therapy
Learning to intentionally calm your nervous system is a vital skill. By calming your nervous system you can reduce the impact stress takes on your physical and mental health.
You’ll sleep better, have less anxiety, more joy and have happier relationships. And most importantly, you’ll have the resilience to live a life that matters to you.