The Importance of Nervous System Regulation

The nervous system is responsible for sensing, controlling, and coordinating an individual’s actions and reactions to life. It comprises the brain, spinal cord, and a vast network of nerves that extend throughout the body. The importance of nervous system regulation cannot be overemphasized here. It plays a significant role in maintaining overall health and well-being. Proper regulation ensures that the body can respond to stress, maintain homeostasis, and function optimally. On the other hand, nervous system dysregulation can have both negative short and long-term consequences throughout one’s life.

Fight or Flight Response

One of the primary functions of the nervous system is to manage the body’s survival response. Stress can be induced by a variety of situations/experiences. These situations can include but aren’t limited to traumatic events, stressful work situations, loss of a job, house fire, etc. When faced with a threat, the nervous system triggers the “fight or flight” or hyper-arousal response. This nervous system state releases large amounts of adrenaline and cortisol to prepare the body for action – aka fight or flight from the threatening situation.

Freeze ResponseNervous system regulation is something we can all struggle with at times. Working with a therapist that understand how nervous system regulation works can be beneficial to your overall health and well-being.

If fighting or fleeing is not an option, the nervous system can implement a frozen state called hypo-arousal or high-tone dorsal. Essentially, the nervous system has perceived the level of threat to be so high, it automatically rules out fighting and fleeing and freezes the body. This acts to conserve energy in the hopes that the threat passes. Think of an opossum when it becomes frightened. In this state, all of the body’s functioning becomes barely perceptible to observers and a numbness can arise throughout the body. Side note – dissociation is more prominent in this state.

Nervous System, the Body, and Mental Health

Physical health is closely tied to nervous system regulation. Enduring stress and nervous system dysregulation can lead to medical issues and impair immune and digestive functions. Check out this article here by The Guardian to read more about the physical health effects of nervous system dysregulation.

Another crucial aspect of nervous system regulation is its effect on mental health. The brain and nervous system are intricately linked to our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Nervous system dysregulation can contribute to various mental health challenges in life as well. For example, sometimes, nervous system dysregulation can create what appears to be ‘mood disorder’ challenges. Other times, it can influence anxiety related symptoms. Other times, past trauma can dysregulate the nervous system. Nervous system dysregulation is a major target when treating mental health symptoms to create and sustain lasting change.

Nervous System Regulation Techniques

If nervous system regulation does not come easy, it may take time to build daily habits. Techniques that promote nervous system regulation, such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation, can help reduce nervous system dysregulation and improve overall mental health. Regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and a balanced diet are also crucial components of nervous system regulation, contributing to overall physical health, resilience, and wellness.

Therapies that Offer Nervous System Regulation

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Somatic Experiencing (SE) therapies both offer support with nervous system re-regulation. Essentially, these forms of therapy work from the bottom-up by treating and creating safety within the body before targeting cognitive thought processes that impact daily life.

Local Therapist Near You

If you or someone you know could benefit from nervous system regulation support or need to heal from past stress, trauma, or mental health symptoms that disrupt life, call now. We offer both virtual and in-person therapy sessions in the Kenosha, WI area. You can also submit an online form here to begin the therapy process.

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