Science now tells us that stress is not good for our body, brain, immune or nervous systems, genes, and organs. In fact, it may well shorten our lifespan! But many of us like the feeling of rushing or being super busy. How do we know if this is healthy or too much? Scientists like Stephen Porges have some tips.
Your nervous system is like a car engine. You don’t want it running too hot, or too cold. Porges idea is to mainly have it running just right. But what if you don’t know how to read your engine temperature? Here are some ideas to help you do a system check.
- System 1 Check: Are you running too hot? Signs you are running too hot include racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating, rapid heart rate, sweating without exertion, poor sleep, nausea or digestive disturbance such as IBS. Anxiety, dread, fear or panic may go this this, or your thoughts may feel obsessive or addictive in some way. You may spend hours ruminating. You may start to isolate or have trouble connecting with others. The inner critic or judge may be present a lot of the time. You may become hypervigilant, edgy, irritable. This is Sympathetic Nervous system activation.
- System 2 check: Are you running too cold? is it hard to get up in the morning, do you feel unmotivated, lethargic, and low?Does life seem to be tasteless, colourless, lacking in enjoyment? Do you feel numb, hopeless, helpless, isolated or shut down? This is the Dorsal Vagus speaking, part of the parasympathetic nervous system.
- System 3 check: Are you mostly calm, able to calm down quickly, centred, grounded, relaxed? Alert but not alarmed? Able to connect well with others, be flexible, resilient, and sociable. Able to see the funny side of life? Able to manage the ups and downs of life with kindness and compassion? Take care of yourself physically and enjoy vitality, pleasure and play? Sleep well? Congratulations! You are in the optimal place, you and the Ventral Vagus are friends!
Many people with stress and trauma bounce between system 1 and system 2, and rarely find themselves in system 3. If this is you, you’ve have come to the right place! Follow our blog or call Claire on 0408 509 110 to find out more about how to repair and settle your nervous system and have a better and less stressed life.