Nervous System

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I recently read about the nervous system and anxiety and how anxiety is simply a symptom of a dysregulated nervous system.  For those of us who deal with anxiety on the regular, this can feel like an oversimplification of what happens in the mind and, in result, in the whole body.  It is an interesting perspective because it takes all of the intrusive, constant thoughts and assigns a reason to it: the nervous system is on overdrive trying to protect us from something.  In this case, it’s trying to protect us from everything.  Things happen to us either in some form of trauma or in some sort of support and our body goes in different directions—technically, it is doing exactly what it’s supposed to.  So maybe in this light we can express some gratitude for our anxiety.  Given what we know and understand, given how we develop our emotions, we are literally doing the best we can given our circumstances.

In looking up the definition of “Nervous,” I found this: easily agitated or alarmed, tending to be anxious, highly strung, a sensitive, nervous person.  Also relating to or affecting the nerves, a nervous disorder.  Looking further into what it means to BE nervous I found this: having or showing feelings or worry, fear, or anxiety.  Easily becoming worried, frightened, or anxious.  Of, relating to, or made up of nerves or nerve cells nervous tissue (Merriam-Webster).  So really, being nervous is being on edge, being alert.  Again, the body is just doing what it has to do based on what it knows.  It wants to survive and the mind is telling it that we are in a state of threat…all the time.  I know, this doesn’t help much when we are in the middle of anxiety.  However, if we can break this down to the basic level of constant vigilance and being alert for something, then we can shift our thoughts.

Instead of getting angry at ourselves or frustrated with being scared, learn to say thank you.  Thank you, mind for always looking out for me.  Right now, your services aren’t needed.  Do the work from there whether it is grounding in the moment or removing yourself from the situation.  Whatever it takes to plant your feet firmly in realty and not in the constant flow of the mind.  That flow is powerful enough to drag you along for the ride if you’re not careful.  This is one of those moments to gather your perspective rather than go with the flow because in THAT flow, you don’t know where you’re going to end up.  This is the time to stop and ground.  Remember you are in control.  We can be grateful for the hard things when we understand what they are trying to do.  We just can’t let it drive.

I’m not going to sit here and say that anxiety is good, not by a long shot.  It’s like living with a ten ton weight on your shoulders that floats on some days and doesn’t even move the next.  Constantly being in that state is too much for the body and the mind.  On the physical level the body is over producing stress hormones and doing everything from needing to run to grinding down teeth to overeating to not being able to eat at all, to having intrusive thoughts to not being able to speak.  Sometimes all of this happens at once and you feel like falling down right there.  You feel like something is simply broken. Like you are broken.  In spite of all that, I will advocate for the reframing.  Putting things in a new perspective will always shift the reality of the situation. We always need reminders that we are in control of our thoughts.

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