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#write28days of Nervous System Regulation: Day 28 – Stewardship

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation: Day 28 – Stewardship

We did it! It is Day 28 of #write28days of Nervous System Regulation and this is the last day. Patting myself on the back for writing 28 blog posts in a row, I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. If you blog you might enjoy doing this next year – it was a lot of work but I met some wonderful people and learned a lot about myself and blogging.

So today’s topic is “stewardship.”

I believe as a Christian that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It has only hit me lately what a big deal this is. As a temple of the Most High God, I should be very careful with my body, soul, and spirit. I should be a good steward.

Part of this is taking good care of my nervous system, trying to heal what has been damaged and taking care to not hurt it again, like I have been writing about all month.

I think fellow HSP moms like me also often feel selfish when we stop and say, “Hey, wait, I matter too.” Our kids needs alone can be all encompassing, and then there is the rest of the world clamoring at our door. But the thing is, if we are good stewards of our inner resources and heal ourselves, we might then have energy we never thought possible! In the end we will be MORE generous if we have boundaries and don’t give too much of what we don’t have.

This year I used Jen Fulwiler’s Word of the Year Generator to pick a word to focus me for the year. I often pick more than one word and see what kind of “story” it gives me. This year, my words were “generosity,” “see,” and “grounded.”

I really think that was perfect. I don’t want to lose my heart for GENEROSITY despite needing to focus intensely on myself in my illness and healing.

SEE reminds me that there is a reality out there – that I am a finite creature with real weaknesses, that God loves me, that I have a dignity the same as other people, that I have true physical and emotional needs and it is OK to meet them. I am not a good steward if I continually grind myself into the ground. There is a healthy tired, and a completely burnt out tired and deep down I think we all know the difference.

And GROUNDED makes me think of moderation – not living too much in deficiency of the virtue of generosity, nor in excess. Right down the middle, where peace lives.

Thank you all for joining me on this #write28days journey! I am both glad it’s over (it was intense!) and will miss it!

I hope to continue to write about the nervous system, healing from trauma, and related topics. There are so many fascinating things to talk about. Please let me know if you have any topic requests in the comments!

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation: Day 23 – Common

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation: Day 23 – Common

Welcome to day 23 of #write28days of Nervous System Regulation! Today we are talking about the word “common.” As in, the need for work on your nervous system regulation is a common thing!

Everyone has problems.

You can read or say that in one of two ways. Either “Everyone has problems, you’re nothing special, stop whining,” or “Everyone struggles with something, you are in good company, you are not alone in your suffering.”

How did you read that? Do you read it one way with others and another with yourself? I know many people who are super compassionate when it comes to other people’s problems, but then tell themselves to just suck it up and stop complaining the moment they start struggling.

It is important to your sense of felt safety that you have compassion on yourself as well as others. Because trouble is common to mankind, if you only give it to others, you will never have the time and space to fill yourself up – there will always be someone out there “worse off” than you to spend yourself on.

Your nervous system health is of utmost importance to both your physical and mental health. Don’t let it slip out of priority status.

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation: Day 22: Danger

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation: Day 22: Danger

Welcome to day 22 of #write28days! It is good to have you here. Today’s focus word in the #write28days community is “danger.” I am going to discuss something I recently learned about: the Cell Danger Response.

The Cell Danger Response (CDR) is a universal cellular response to danger that happens in the mitochondria. Mitochondria are in every cell and they help create energy for your bodily processes to run. When they sense any “danger” in the form of genetic changes, toxins, stress, inflammation, behavior, memory, and more, there are chemical changes that take place in the mitochondria. These changes can do things such as alter gene expression, alter the rate of aging, signal the body to create a healing response, and change the body’s susceptibility to chronic illness.

When the Cell Danger Response is triggered, the cell is “told” to prioritize survival. It is responsible for many changes that all people feel in some way when under stress (whether physical or mental): troubled sleep, head, muscle and abdominal aches, changes in the microbiome, increased sensitivity, and more.

The trigger might not even be a real danger in some way. For example, say when you were young you heard your parents have a frightening fight while you were eating something new for the first time. Your nervous system can confuse the signals of the fight with the signals from the new food, and tell your body there is danger around every time you eat the new food, even though the food itself isn’t really the problem, it’s the cross wiring.

At a cellular level, the CDR isn’t turned off until the cell receives the final “all clear” signal. Until that happens, we remain in a loop that blocks further healing in an attempt to deal with the perceived danger. This can lead to chronic illness and other forms of long term suffering. Only when a cell perceives safety can it heal completely.

As the cell goes, so goes the whole body – only when we perceive we are in safety, can we heal completely. And trauma, especially childhood trauma, tends to create a perpetual subconscious feeling of danger. Try to lessen your exposures to toxins as best you can, but don’t forget the toxic burden of your conscious and unconscious perceptions of your world. This is why I feel brain retraining is so important, especially these days.

For a more complete article on this topic, see Perspective: Cell danger response Biology—The new science that connects environmental health with mitochondria and the rising tide of chronic illness from the journal Mitochondrion. (Warning, it’s kind of depressing.)

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation: Day 20 – Changes

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation: Day 20 – Changes

Welcome to #write28days of Nervous System Regulation. I can’t believe it is day 20 already! Today’s focus word is “changes,” and boy did applying regulating practices require a lot of changes from me!

In the past few months I have learned to:

  • change my inner talk
  • change my speed of doing things
  • change my way of breathing
  • change my willingness to move my body
  • change what it even means to inhabit my body
  • change my way of accessing my emotions
  • change my idea of self-care

I am also changing my idea of fixing myself – I am not broken, nor a “project” to be fixed. I am a person with a life to create. I need to choose my activities and thoughts according to my deeply held values. In essence this is creating a life by my minute to minute actions, not “fixing” something that is broken about me.

Have you made any changes lately? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

#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 18 – Tiny

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation: Day 18 – Tiny

Welcome to #write28days of Nervous System Regulation! It is day 18 and today’s word is TINY!

How does “tiny” relate to nervous system regulation? Well, regulating a constantly DYSregulated nervous system is best done in baby-steps, and baby-steps are tiny. 🙂

Your nervous system really likes when things stay the same. When things change, it puts itself (and you) on “red alert” – the amount of “alert” will depend on the amount of change, how unexpected it is, and the amount of dysregulation in the nervous system.

So it is a best practice to only change things by a small amount – like as little as 1% or less of change, if you want your body to accept and regulate to this new amount of “whatever.”

For example, if you start a new practice of sitting in silence and observing your body sensations, if you have never done this before, start with one minute, not 15. A few days from now, add another minute, not 10 or 20.

Now, if you are normally quite regulated, this may seem ridiculous. But if you are chronically dysregulated, your body sees everything as a threat. You don’t want your new soothing practices to be misinterpreted as threat just because they are “different.” It truly is best to start off very slow and go up slowly, as hard as that can be sometimes. (Says the person who went from not walking to walking a mile in the freezing cold within a few days and paid for it for over a week, LOL. Learning my lesson here!)

Over time, you will get a sense of the needs of your nervous system. You may be able to go faster, say, with stretching than with eye exercises or visualizations. If you are having a hard day you may need to move back to a smaller practice. Trust your intuition on toning it down for the day.

Size matters, and tiny is the name of the game here. 🙂

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation: Day 15: Beautiful

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation: Day 15: Beautiful

Welcome to day 15 of #write28days of Nervous System Regulation! Today’s focus word is “beautiful.” What a beautiful word! 🙂

When doing brain retraining it is helpful to surround yourself with beauty. Beauty and awe helps regulate the nervous system and tone the vagus nerve. The uplifted feelings that beauty inspires help retrain the pathways that your brain habitually takes. In this case, beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder – you should have or imagine things around you that *you* find beautiful, not necessarily someone else.

Also, forget the “shoulds” here. If you are trying to think of something happy and beautiful, and a favorite toy from childhood comes up and not your toddler (who picked this week to stop napping), think about the toy, please! Ignore the nudges of “I should think of my children or the nice gift my husband gave me.” No, for some reason the toy is bringing you more joy. Go with it!

It doesn’t have to be visual to be beautiful, either. Your soul is beautiful. Your nervous system trying to protect you is beautiful. God is beautiful. Unconditional love is beautiful. Music can be beautiful.

Try to bring up the feelings beauty and awe create in you multiple times a day. Little by little your nervous system will create new pathways and regulate more easily.

What is something you find beautiful?

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation – Day 14: Rare

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation – Day 14: Rare

Welcome to day 14 of #write28days! Today’s word of the day is “rare.”

What do you think of when you hear the word rare?

The Oxford Dictionary defines rare as:

1. (of an event, situation, or condition) not occurring very often.
2. (of a thing) not found in large numbers and consequently of interest or value.
3.unusually good or remarkable.

Do you know what the most rare thing is? YOU! You are one in almost 8 billion, and God wanted one of you here. You are “consequently of interest and value,” and “unusually good and remarkable.” You are not just some accident. God knit you together (Psalm 139). In the same psalm, right after saying we are knit together in the womb, the psalmist says, “Wonderful are Thy works!” You are rare and wonderful!

Something else that is rare is being an HSP. I’ve heard 15-20% of people are highly sensitive. While it can sometimes be difficult, do not think of it as a curse, but a superpower. However, in order to thrive as HSPs, we do have to often live in a rare way. We aren’t *like* all the other people, we need stop treating ourselves as if we are.

It may be any number of things you need to do – you are an individual and there are probably as many answers as there are HSPs. Just know that it is OK if you are doing things differently than others – having less clutter, seeing a therapist, sleeping more, not watching the news, cooking on the weekends so that you just reheat on weekdays, making sure you have time to gently stretch every day non-negotiable — whatever it is, it is your fertilizer to grow your own rare flower which is you.

Honor your needs, then you can be the generous person God designed you to be.

 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.” – Mark 6:31

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation – Day 12: Decline

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation – Day 12: Decline

Welcome to day 12 of #write28days! Today the word of the day is “decline.” I thought this would be a great day to talk about boundaries, and saying “no.”

Boundaries, and saying no to things you do not want, are essential in nervous system regulation because they define where I begin and end. If I don’t tune into what I need and want ever – saying no to some things and yes to others – it’s almost as if I don’t exist. I am not defining myself as “myself” – the one who is these things, wants these things, dislikes these other things.

If you don’t have some sort of internal boundaries, other people in your lives are always getting their way, and that is not healthy for them, nor it is a healthy relationship between the two of you. A good relationship is a give and take.

I’m going to guess that we have all heard of boundaries by now, so I’ll talk about the one thing that people often miss – they say, “I set boundaries but people don’t abide by them, so they don’t work.”

That’s the thing – you probably only need to set strict boundaries with people who don’t have your best interest at heart – OF COURSE they are going to trample on your boundaries, because they care more about themselves than your needs.

You have to make sure that you have both halves of your boundaries – first, what you want the other person to do, and second, what *you* will do if they don’t abide by the first part. If you don’t have the second part, you boundary is just a request, not a boundary.

So for example say your sister keeps asking you for money and you have said no and that you do not want to discuss the matter again. You meet her for coffee and she again asks for money. So you say, “We’ve talked about this before and the answer is no. If you continue to talk about it here (first part), I will leave. (second part)”

This person may continue to ask for money each time you meet. You may need to change your boundary – “If you ask me for money each time we go for coffee, I will stop meeting with you” or similar. This is all up to you, of course, and what *you* need out of the relationship. You may be FINE with your sister asking for money each time. Then no boundaries are necessary with her about this.

But if you do set a boundary, you need to abide by your own boundary. Do the action in the second part of the boundary if the first part is breached. Don’t set a boundary that you won’t enforce. It’s hard, and can be very upsetting that loved ones don’t want to adhere to your boundaries, but that’s about them and their weaknesses, not you. It is in your best interest to you and your psyche to do what you said you would do.

Keep your promises to yourself. You are worth it!

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation – Day 7: Ease

#write28days of Nervous System Regulation – Day 7: Ease

Welcome to #write28days of Nervous System Regulation! Today is Day 7, and the word of the day is “ease.”

Ease. Not something most people have a lot of these days. Oh, things may seem easier on the surface than in the past – I mean, most of us who are reading blogs don’t have to butcher our own meat, wash our laundry by hand in a bucket, or use an outhouse.

So while many tasks may be easier, I don’t think they have been replaced with ease — the Oxford dictionary defines being “at ease” as: free from worry, awkwardness, or problems; relaxed.

(Hmmmm, free from awkwardness…not sure I will ever achieve that, LOL)

We are not supposed to live a life of ease as in “not working” ever, but neither are we supposed to live a life of mental exhaustion every day.

Today’s culture has replaced community and physical labor with rushing, individualism, debt, and shame. We applaud those who climb the corporate ladder and make fun of rest and play and child-like trust.

But God commands that we rest and Jesus reiterates that Sabbath rest was made for us because we need it. (Here is a great list of Scriptures that talk about rest.)

Rest isn’t just physical rest, though, just as important is a psychological or mental rest.

Unfortunately we often pick things that aren’t *truly* restful to our nervous systems and souls, like mindless scrolling Instagram. (*guiltily raising hand*)

We don’t get enough sleep, often because we crave our “alone time,” without kids. But maybe if you actually got enough sleep and rest, you wouldn’t need that alone time as strongly.

Or we go about rushing from one thing to the next – sometimes so that we can “get to the good stuff.”

“Oh if I just rush through my work I’ll have more time to relax” – but then the rushing created more stress than the relaxing you are doing can make up for!

Here is a good article about why rushing is hard for HSPs.

Also, staying busy and rushed all the time is a trauma response. We avoid being still. (As an aside I am not necessarily recommending the therapist in this article. I know nothing about her, it was just a good explanation of the topic.)

I believe we all need more truly quiet time, rest, and play.

I haven’t figured this all out yet for myself, because after a lifetime of shutting out my own desires and needs, I don’t even KNOW what I like, what I really want, what would help me truly relax. But I know it’s a goal, and that’s a start.

 I *do* know, that God is there for me, and that is probably the most important part.

Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. – 1 Peter 5:7

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