What is the nervous system, and how can we support it naturally?
The nervous system is our body’s electrical wiring. It’s composed of neurons: complex nerves and cells that transmit signals between different parts of our bodies.
If you’ve ever felt the “fight or flight” response, this is your sympathetic nervous system reacting to stress, signalling to your body that it’s lacking what it needs to produce neurotransmitters. We often talk about “having a nervous breakdown,” but not enough about how to support this vital system and avoid the sympathetic response in the first place!
In this blog, we’ll explore seven ways you can prevent illness and naturally support your nervous system so you can achieve peak performance in your life.
Mind your nutrients and healthy fats
Disorders of the nervous system can result from nutritional deficiencies, so it’s important to supplement your body with vital nutrients if they’re missing in your diet. These nutrients include B vitamins, calcium, and magnesium. One scientific update also identified vitamins C, D, E, K, copper, iodine, iron, lithium, manganese, and zinc as important for brain health to support nervous system function.
Healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, fish, and ghee (clarified butter) can also be good for the brain and nervous system. They contain choline, an essential nutrient. Studies suggest these fats can prevent the erosion of myelin, the protective coating that cushions our nerve cells.
Herb it up
In addition, there are many adaptogens (pharmaceutical herbs) that can help to regulate cortisol, our stress hormone. Just some include ashwagandha, chamomile, kava, lemon balm, passionflower, and valerian root. Ingesting these herbs into tea is an easy way to incorporate them into your diet.
Hold onto your loved ones
Positive social actions like embracing and cuddling can release endorphins: tiny neurochemicals produced by our central nervous system and the brain’s pituitary gland. We release endorphins in response to stress, reducing pain and boosting our sense of pleasure. These actions also release oxytocin, known as our “love hormone.” So cuddle up for good measure!
Carry or lift weights
Exercise is necessary for our health, but weight provides our brains with proprioceptive input or kinesthesia, our body’s ability to sense its location, movements, and actions. This input, which we can get from chewing gum, pushing a lawnmower, or carrying book bags, can produce a calming and organizing effect on our central nervous system.
Lifting weights provides kinesthesia and exercise. You can also use various weighted accessories like weighted blankets, pillows, pads, or vests.
Shake your body
Just like animals, shaking our bodies can help us process and release trauma, which can build up in our nervous system. Known as therapeutic or neurogenic tremoring, this is a technique used in tension and trauma therapeutic release exercises (TRE) that may be a potential therapeutic method for improving quality of life.
Heating up in a hot bath has potential positive effects on our nervous system. An action that people have been doing for over 3000 years, hot baths could reduce inflammation, which can contribute to central nervous system disorders.
One study suggests that saunas may increase endorphins, and another showed that heating pads helped reduce anxiety and distress in women undergoing cystoscopy, a procedure that examines the urethra and lining of the bladder.
Take a break
While our idea of taking a break might involve scrolling on social media, watching a movie or TV show, or socializing, it’s important to REALLY give ourselves and our bodies space for silence. Activities with minimal stimulation and maximized rest and rejuvenation can help our nervous systems to recover after a busy week. So set some time aside for meditation, massage, or time alone in nature.Subscribe to our email list to be entered to win a free copy of our guided journal, and also visit our blog on managing stress for more ideas on how you can further support your nervous system.