How do you know if your nervous system has had enough? Well, how many of these feel familiar:
Obsessive show-watching or IG scrolling
Everything feels urgent
You feel tired but wired
You wake up feeling anxious
Small things can set you off and make you feel overwhelmed
You react quickly and escalate
You are more and more forgetful
You have poor concentration
Thoughts of “not being here anymore” feel like a relief
Everything feels against you
If you recognize 2 or more, then yeah, girl, your nervous system is jacked up too high. Your harsh workouts, environment, job, self-floggings, and not dealing with your sh*t are all depleting you.
Let’s talk about it.
I was chatting with a gal after my class at a big deal design company in downtown P-town recently. She was telling me about her rigid schedule of waking at 5 am, her hard workout at 6, riding her bike to work, working all day, riding her bike home, repeat. Sounds aspirational, right? After 6 months she was burned out and stopped working out entirely. What happened to cause her to feel burned out? Her nervous system had it’s fill of stress.
Stress isn’t inherently bad.
Constantly being in a state of stress is bad, yes, but stress is how we grow, change, mature, and become better versions of ourselves. Like the stress you had when you asked for a raise, stood up for yourself against an a-hole, or made a hard decision. Or the stress from your run, steep hike, or hard workout class. All are hard and helped propel you.
There are 2 kinds of stress: physical stress and emotional stress. Both kinds can help you be better and both can negatively affect your nervous system.
The nervous system is your body's command center, controlling your thoughts, movements, sensations and vital functions.
One part of the nervous system can only do its job of processing and healing when it feels safe, supported, and calm. Guess what yours feels like? Now guess what’s not getting done in your body.
Let me offer my crescendo on a platter:
Physical stress can negatively affect your nervous system. It’s not just emotional stress that does it. Your MEGA hard workouts after a super stressful day of work and momming DID not help your nervous system. It beat it down.
Let me guess, you are like “But I always feel better after I go for a major run or do a grueling workout where I beat my body to a pulp, especially on a day when I am hating the world”. Umm yeah, it feels good because:
You have been taught it’s “productive” and “healthy” so when you do something perceived as “productive” and “healthy” you like it.
It makes you feel different from what you were feeling which feels like a relief.
You are unconsciously addicted to stress and cortisol so, yeah, you like the feeling of a workout beat down. But just because you like it doesn't mean it’s good for ya.
Workouts are not bad. Hard workouts are not bad. Hard workouts constantly, especially on already really stressful days, are not helpful.
THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING of this topic.
We will continue to talk about this more and more because it’s crazy important, rarely discussed, and will be heavily fought by many. For now, let’s hop to the help section and let the above sink in. We are doing a live talk on this topic on June 22nd and blog part 2 will be coming soon on physical stress and working out smarter.
What can you do to help your nervous system?
Stop working out? No.
Lower your stress? If you can, yes. But what if you can’t?
Buy more supplements that are focused on stress reduction? No.
Drink more? No
Smoke more? No
Feed your emotions by shoving food down like you do your emotions? No
Add in stress balancers and nervous system nourishers? YES!
What’s a stress balancer?
Anything that helps nourish your nervous system. They don’t take the stress away but they can help nourish what has been depleted which then helps you keep functioning. There are TONS of options but here are my personal faves plus a few our Chief Feelings Officer Gina recommends.
Hanging in a forest, on a beach, on a mountain, by a river.
Never avoiding my sh*t.
3-5 minute cold plunge in a river.
Deep, slow breaths
Meditation or sitting in silence
Gentle movements like dancing or stretching
Slow, calm walks. In nature is a plus
Here's the recap:
Recognize when your nervous system is on the edge.
Don’t villainize stress.
Overly aggressive workouts are a part of your problem.
Find something from the list above to add to your life to help you nourish your nerves.
More to come in part 2 (and probably a part 3 as well)
You probably have questions or rebuttals. Totally get it so Gina (FAM CFO + Owner of Uncover and Discover) and I are hosting an Instagram live on Thursday, June 22nd at 2:30 pm. Bring your questions and comments.
Can’t make it? Email me your thoughts and I will address them live. firstname.lastname@example.org