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Quick Ways to Reset Your Nervous System

by Laura Nalin, MA, P-LPC, CADC

Many of us are living each day with our nervous systems activated without our knowledge. We live in a society that has taught us never to rest, so much so that even in states of what we believe to be relaxation are quite the opposite. For example, if you find yourself coming home from work, turning on the television, and simultaneously doom scrolling social media to avoid thoughts of the work day that will follow, it’s likely that your nervous system is still activated to some degree.

Since the onset of the global pandemic in 2020, many of us are experiencing collective fatigue and a looming sense of overwhelm which we can’t always seem to kick. Pair this notion with the fact that outside stressors impact our adult lives intermittently; our autonomic nervous systems, which are responsible for the physical response to stress, may be consistently activated a bit more than we’d like or even be aware of.

When our bodies are living in a state of activation, our autonomic nervous system splits up its response into either the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous systems. When under stress, our sympathetic nervous system is activated, which leads us into what is called ‘fight or flight.’ As this happens, our parasympathetic nervous system attempts to soothe and our endocrine system releases cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, which can hopefully lead us into what is called the ‘rest and digest’ state. However, if we aren’t giving ourselves ample opportunity for the parasympathetic nervous system to activate, or we are living under chronic stress, our bodies will just continuously cycle through the stress response with little or no counteraction from our parasympathetic nervous system.

We all deserve to relax! Here are some quick ways to reset your nervous system.