I’ve had a few clients show up lately all with the same issue. They are unable to relax enough to get a full night of sleep. One in particular can feel her nervous system activating as she gets ready for bed.
What is going on?
Well, it’s not our natural state for us to be able to relax. Our nervous system is built in such a way to be on alert all the time to look out for danger and keep us safe.
And in today’s world, we are no longer talking about a tigger jumping out of the woods and attacking us. It’s the rush of our lives that keeps our nervous system in a state of fight or flight.
To understand this you need to look at human brain development and observe some basic elements. One major feature is our instinct to survive.
Our natural state is to maintain our sense of alertness in order to protect ourselves.
Relaxation implies that we let down our guard. It means turning off our internal system that is meant to keep us alert in order to keep us safe. This translates itself in today’s world as the items we didn’t accomplish on our to-do list. Or the emails we didn’t have time to reply to. Or all the chores we need to do at home for our family. Or the dishwasher that needs to be unloaded. Or the laundry that needs to be put away. You get the picture?
Unfortunately, our natural built-in system does not come with an on – off switch. It is hard wired and always working. Therefore, when we try to relax, we are often unable to.
So, how do you relax and can anything be done to achieve a relaxed state?
The answer is a “yes”. It can be done. However, your expectations need to be realistic. When you haven’t been able to relax in a long time, it’s going to take time to retrain your nervous system to recognize the state of relaxation.
Your first step is recognizing that you aren’t easily able to relax and then making the choice to change your daily behaviours in order for your nervous system to learn what it feels like to relax. Just like any new skill you are building, small daily consistent actions will do the trick.
Here are a few ways you can train your brain to relax:
- EFT/tapping. At its core, it is known as a stress management technique. Most people who do just a few minutes of tapping will feel a sense of calm come over them. Do this on a regular basis and you are training your nervous system to relax.
- Meditate. Countless studies are now suggesting that meditation practices have the potential to balance our nervous system settings and help us deal with stress.
- Exercise. Exercising like running or walking can help to reduce the feelings of anxiety and clear space in your head.
Until next time, sleep tight!