Our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) helps us engage in fight or flight so that we are able to protect ourselves from danger.
The brain is not able to discern perceived vs real threat, it simply sees threat as a threat.
You can see in this graphic some of the symptoms that come with sitting in our SNS!
In this graphic you can see some of the symptoms and long-term impacts of having your sympathetic nervous system consistently on.
When our SNS is turned on, it is preparing to fight or flight meaning the body is in a constant state of adrenaline, muscle clenching and high alert.
The sympathetic nervous is turned on naturally for BIPOC more often due to many of the implicit/explicit and overt/covert racism that exists.
For others, trauma and adversity causes this to turn on as well. Tune in over the next couple of days for a couple of tips to support calming your nervous system.
The breath is so powerful when it comes to shifting our nervous system, the breath can support kicking the calm into gear.
To diaphragmatically breath, you can inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. As you inhale imagine your diaphragm expanding feel the rise of your lower ribs and stomach.
Then exhale, slowly. Try this three times, check-in and continue if needed.
Understanding that once you are calm and grounded working on addressing what you can internally is crucial as well.
In calming the sympathetic nervous system utilizing vergence can be a helpful tool.
Using any kind of pointer/pen/stick you can make this work anywhere! I’ve even had client simply use their finger.
You step about a foot to a foot and a half away from a surface, look at the tip of the pointer and then through the pointer at the wall.
You will go back and forth from the pointer to the wall at whatever interval feels calming to you. For some people it’s 3 seconds at each point for others it’s faster or slower.
Notice your breath deep in and slow and your body’s reaction to the turning on of your Parasympathetic nervous system.
Try these couple of tips and see if you can support yourself towards the calming of the nervous system. When we calm our nervous system we are able to more engage in our critical thinking and tapping into our intuition to know what is best for us. Happy Healing!
Reach out to learn more!
Patrice Flanagan-Morris, LCSW