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#write28days of Nervous System Regulation: Day 26 – Threat

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation: Day 26 – Threat

Welcome to day 26 of #write28days! If you are just joining in, you can find a full list of what has been written by me so far here. Each day of February we are writing on a topic, guided by a list of topic words chosen by the organizer. Today’s topic word is threat, which lends itself very well to the topic of nervous system regulation!

The nervous system responds to threat in one or a combination of the following ways, some of which you have probably heard of, and some which might be new to you:

Fight – your sympathetic nervous system activates and pushes out adrenaline so you can fight the threat. This doesn’t necessarily mean punching/kicking, it can also be staying and fighting with words, and feeling high anger.

Flight – also from the sympathetic nervous system, this is used when you don’t think you can fight, and so either flee the space, or if not, feel very fidgety and trapped, kind of like a “pre-flight”.

Freeze – Freezing is organized primarily by a different part of the nervous system, the dorsal vagus nerve and a spike in the parasympathetic nervous system activation. This is when you feel threatened but feel frozen in place and cannot act. You might collapse, or feel heavy, dissociated, or unable to access words or emotions.

Fawn – used when the first three aren’t available to you for whatever reason. Often is common in people raised in toxic homes. Fawning is trying to over-give your way into safety – trying to be overly helpful, over-agreeable, doing whatever it takes to keep your “attacker” happy so that they don’t hurt you physically or psychologically.

and I’ve also heard of other “F’s” like flag and flop included in the above, but these four are pretty universally accepted now.

I found this helpful chart on a Facebook post that explains them side by side:

If you have had a long period in your life where you needed to use the above techniques, you may find that you are “stuck” in one or more of them.

This is when brain retraining practices, like I have been describing in other posts, become helpful.

You’ll never avoid threats completely in your life, but with conscious practices you can train your nervous system that you are OK, and it will return to a healthy baseline instead of getting stuck in fight, flight, freeze, or fawn.

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation – Day 19: Favorite YouTube Channels

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation – Day 19: Favorite YouTube Channels

Welcome back to #write28days of Nervous System Regulation! Today’s focus word in the #write28days community was lottery. I didn’t know how to work that into brain retraining, so today I’m going to share my favorite YouTube channels that talk about retraining, nervous system regulation, or share helpful things like visualization videos.

The first is from Paster Tim Fletcher. Particularly the series that starts with the video I’ll link below called Complex Trauma . I have never felt so seen in my trauma as in this series.

This similar series below was also very good, as is most of his other abundant content. He often speaks for awhile in each video on the psychological aspects, then takes a break and says anyone that wants to stick around for the Christian content can do so, and thanks others for listening this far.

The second is a favorite for visualization help called Guided Meditations Neural Retraining Visualizations. Below is one of my favorite of her visualizations. She basically talks you through a fun or beautiful experience and you imagine it along with her.

Irene Lyon’s channel is another favorite – she teaches people how to work with the nervous system to transform trauma, heal body and mind. Below is a video on the basics of Nervous System Regulation.

The next two channels I’m going to share are for movement practices. I find calm and slow movement essential to my healing practices. The first is a trauma informed yoga channel by Hannah Uiri. She is so calm and gentle and gives alternatives for her movements if they are too triggering or difficult. Below is a favorite of mine.

The second is a channel called Qi Gong for Vitality. Like I said on some other post, I don’t always believe in all the things people say in the videos I watch, but I just don’t participate in that part or I replace with my own worship or prayer during the movement.

Well that is probably enough for today! Do you have any favorite channels on these topics? I’d love to learn about them!

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation: Day 17 – Reflections

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation: Day 17 – Reflections

Welcome to #write28days of Nervous System Regulation! We have made it to day 17!

Today’s focus is the word “reflections.”

My father bought a boat when I was a teen, and named it Reflections, deep man that he always was – it was a play on the reflections off the water, and him “reflecting” back to his past and his own father’s boat.

There’s a part of the nervous system that “reflects” too – neurons that fire when we observe others, and they are called our “mirror neurons.” An interesting thing is that they fire in the exact same way when we are aware of an action as when we perform it ourselves. It doesn’t have to be visual, we can hear an action that we recognize, and the mirror neurons will fire as if we did that same action.

Mirror neurons are thought to be important to interpreting the actions and facial expressions of others, in imitation and learning, language development, and empathy.

They are also why we feel weird when our parents (or other loved ones) are in a bad mood or have negative expressions on their faces, even as infants. They help us figure out when our caregivers themselves are dysregulated and are either under or over-reacting to things.

These neurons can also potentially be used to help us heal from trauma, as watching someone else be supported and comforted may help us feel as if it is somehow happening to us.

The brain is an amazing social organ!

I collated the information from various journals and articles. I do not have the bandwidth to quote and cite. If you are looking for a place that does that, this is not that blog. 😉

Write 28 Days – Nervous System Regulation

Write 28 Days – Nervous System Regulation

Tomorrow, the first day of February (can you believe it?), I will be joining in the #write28days blog challenge being hosted at Anita Ojeda’s. We will be posting every day of February on our topic of choice, guided, if we wish, by Anita’s selected daily prompts.

My main focus for the month will be the basics of nervous system regulation, and also retraining after dysregulation — you know, things like feeling anxious, shutting down, or being triggered. The more I learn and experience it, the more I feel nervous system regulation is an essential topic to learn. These practices help us to not just survive but to thrive as highly sensitive people.

As the month progresses, I will come back to this page to post updated links to each days writing. Feel free to bookmark this page for easy access!

Day 1 – Wonderful

Day 2 – Broken

Day 3 – Fascinating

Day 4 – Community

Day 5 – Safety

Day 6 – Beliefs

Day 7 – Ease

Day 8 – Shock

Day 9 – Books

Day 10 – More Books

Day 11 – Name

Day 12 – Decline

Day 13 – Fact

Day 14 – Rare

Day 15 – Beautiful

Day 16 – Lonesome

Day 17 – Reflections

Day 18 – Tiny

Day 19 – Favorite YouTube Channels

Day 20 – Changes

Day 21 – Adore

Day 22 – Danger

Day 23 – Common

Day 24 – Savor

Day 25 – Problem

Day 26 – Threat

Day 27 – Favorite Instagram Accounts (will go live on Feb. 27)

Day 28 – Stewardship (will go live on Feb 28)

All that and a bag of chips

All that and a bag of chips

Late last week my son came home from school sick – turns out it was THE virus. He’s handling it well, but we worry due to the immune suppressive drug he is on. His fever is gone now, and today he woke up and was like, “Can I have a sandwich? Make it filling!” He was finally really hungry after not eating much for days. Yay!

So even though I had little energy and I had just sat down with a hot cup of tea, to kill off whatever germs might be lurking in my own throat, I happily went downstairs and made him a sandwich with all the fixings, cut up an apple, and even found one of those little bags of chips he takes to school and put it on his plate. I was so relieved he was feeling better and that made it easier to ignore my own tiredness and desire for my tea, and serve my son with joy.

I brought it back upstairs to him and realized just how hungry I was at that point. I also remembered my now cold tea. “I spent my last bit energy on my family, as usual,” I thought, a little dejected. “All those stairs. Oh well, I’ll just drink the cold tea and grab something easy.” (And most probably not good for me, I’ll add here.)

*Record Scratch* Wait! Let’s back this truck up. This ^^ above is not the person I want to be, and I am working hard toward right thinking and true self care.

To me right thinking is gearing my thoughts towards ultimate truth, as far as I can see it. Like the truth that I am as worthy of my own care as my son is, even if I’m tired. I was tired when I made HIM his meal, wasn’t I?

There were two main problems with my thinking, as I see it.

First, when I began trying to turn my thoughts around, I initially thought, “OK, stop feeling sorry for yourself” — I got to the “you” and stopped myself. Am I really feeling “sorry for myself”? Or am I just having feelings?? Ladies and gentlemen, it is OK to have emotions, and to feel them. When people tell you to stop feeling sorry for yourself, usually they are just *uncomfortable* with your feelings and want you to move on. I don’t want to be one of those people, to myself or others.

Instead I thought, “What am I actually feeling — what are the individual emotions?” Today I was feeling tired, lonely, a bit frustrated and sad about some things, along with great relief and joy for my son. I realized those feelings were valid considering my situation, and allowed myself to feel them.

Second, I noticed that I always default to “I’m too tired to do anything good for myself, I’ll just do the easy thing.” But when my son said, “I’m hungry!” I immediately had enough energy do complete the task and helped him happily. Am I so worthless that I can’t muster some joy for myself to get me through some lunch making? NO! If it was another family member I would have gone down and made them a nice lunch as well. I am not healthy, and the truth is I deserve at least as good a diet as I make for my loved ones.

So I questioned myself, am I really *too* tired, or am I my usual tired, but also sad and a little lonely, and struggle with self worth? It was the latter, and so I realized I *could* make myself a sandwich, with joy. And I did! A nice one just like my son’s. I also reheated my tea so I could enjoy it.

I didn’t give myself a bag of chips though.

I opted for a cookie. 😉


Are you learning to care for yourself too? What do you find easiest to do for yourself? Hardest? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Feel your feelings

Feel your feelings

For me, the last few years held a lot of illness, but more than a few silver linings.

One of those benefits was learning more about trauma and its effects on the body.

A life changing idea I came across (I believe it was in the Primal Trust community) was that I was most likely not feeling my feelings, I was *thinking* my feelings.

It is important to your physical and mental health to feel your emotions to their resolution, in which they dissipate and you return to baseline. But if you are “thinking your feelings”, this doesn’t happen as easily.

Let me give you an example of what thinking your feelings is vs. feeling your feelings: let’s say a driver cuts you off and you are put in a momentary dangerous situation. Thinking your feelings is how you say, “What an idiot! He almost caused an accident! He could have killed me! I’m so mad! I can’t believe he did that! Bleepin, bleep bleep!” In the past, had any one asked me if I had felt my feelings in that situation, I would have said yes! See I was mad and scared and I said (or thought) so!

But in the same situation, *feeling* your feelings looks like: the guy cuts you off, and you realize your heart is pounding, you are hot, your stomach is tense, your feet hurt, your hands are tight on the steering wheel, maybe you are shaking. You take some moments or longer to experience those feelings to their fullest. Accept and notice the feelings, without judgment.

The difference is, feeling the sensations of your emotions, and sort of “leaning in” to the feeling of them, while quieting the mind of the chatter about them, helps them to be processed and released faster. In my experience, thinking about my feelings tends to rile me up to continue to be hyper aroused, as I have trouble letting go of the negative thoughts I’m having.

While I have not tried using this technique of feeling my feelings in the direct aftermath of a big ticket trauma like a recent death or accident, I have used it often in the day to day stresses of raising a family, dealing with old trauma, and living with chronic illnesses, and it has worked almost every time to bring the feelings of the moment to some kind of resolution. It feels like they “flow through me” and out. My body usually prompts me to yawn or take a deep breath, both signals that my nervous system is processing and shifting into a healthier state. My mind may bring up the stressful event multiple times, but each time I try to get out of my head and into my body and work on dissipating that feeling again and again. This is OK, and to be expected.

As highly sensitive individuals, we often stay up in our own head. We think about everything, and sometimes don’t really have a sense of what is going on in our bodies in terms of emotions, in a real and embodied way. If this is true for you, it might take some practice and some embodiment work to learn how to have a felt sense of your body in any given moment.

Try not to distract yourself from the smaller, handleable stresses, and feel those feelings. As your body learns to do this, you will be one step closer to being able to deal with the bigger things.

The usual disclaimer: This is not professional advice. If you find the actions I described too overwhelming please do not do them without medical/professional counseling advice.

Photo by Jason Tran on Unsplash

Surviving the Holidays as a Highly Sensitive Homschooler – Parting Thoughts

Surviving the Holidays as a Highly Sensitive Homschooler – Parting Thoughts



How is everyone holding up?  For many of you the holidays are beginning to reach a crescendo, with Christmas a few days away.  Maybe others of you are done for the most part – enjoy watching the rest of us run around like crazy people. 😉

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New School Year

New School Year

You’d think, after 13+ “first days of school,”  I’d know better than to expect a lot out of today.

I even made it a short day, with few expectations. At least few stated expectations. Apparently what my mouth says and what my mind wants are two totally different things.

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