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The Nervous System (and How it Relates to Healing from Trauma)

The nervous system oversees your body’s response to stressful situations and this response can be deeply connected to traumas you may have experienced in the past. A dysregulated nervous system will at times cause a response that is disproportionate to a trigger, meaning a seemingly small event can overstimulate the system and cause a more extreme reaction than usual. Read on to learn more about how past trauma can affect the nervous system and its significance during your healing process.

Main Function of the Nervous System

The nervous system is the source of what is commonly known as the fight or flight response, an instinctual reaction designed to protect the body in the presence of a threat. This ancient instinct has been within humans for hundreds of millions of years and would have been an essential tool in ancient times.

In the modern day, we still use the fight or flight response on a day-to-day basis, although the threats have changed. When faced with a stressful or frightening experience, the response will be triggered and you’re likely to experience symptoms such as a rapid heart rate, a rush of adrenaline, pale or flushed skin, trembling and dilated pupils. The idea is that these physiological changes can quickly prepare your body to ‘fight’ the threat or run away from it, hence ‘flight’.

A dysregulated nervous system will cause this response even if there is no actual threat perceived or will struggle to calm itself down after a legitimate threat is encountered. If you’re someone who has experienced trauma, your ability to tolerate certain stresses might be weakened. Smaller events could cause more extreme responses, longer recovery periods and force your nervous system into overdrive causing restlessness, insomnia and long-term anxiety.

Healing From Trauma and Regulating Your Nervous System

When you begin your process of healing from your trauma a key aspect is learning to manually regulate your nervous system. Firstly, it is important to be able to recognise when your dysregulated nervous system has been triggered and is influencing your responses to certain events. Learning to notice when and how your past trauma is affecting your emotional and physiological response in the current moment will allow you to begin changing that response.

There are many tools that can be utilised to calm your body and reduce the symptoms of overstimulation. Mindful breathing, meditation and exercise are all methods you can try now to mitigate the effects of an overactive nervous system.

If you choose to work with a therapist for assistance, they might use their knowledge of polyvagal theory to bring your body back to its natural state of healthy homeostasis. The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is a key tool used by our therapists that uses acoustic stimuli to recalibrate your nervous system.

Working With Perth Counselling & Psychotherapy

Our professional counsellors are non-judging and well equipped to assist you with healing from your trauma and recalibrating your nervous system. Our therapy is tailored to you, as are the therapeutic methods we employ, and we endeavour to provide a safe environment for all of our patients.

Do you need help with healing from trauma and regulating your nervous system? Get in touch with us today and book an appointment.

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