Choices to Calm a Nervous Sensitive System 

When your nervous system is sensitive, doing activities that connect the mind and body have been shown to be effective in calming the sensitive nervous system.  Let's look at four different types of activities that have been shown to positively affect the nervous system when you have persistent pain.

Yoga:

  • Can decrease sympathetic nervous system activity
  • Can reduce inflammation
  • Can reduce stress markers (cortisol) in the body
  • Can increase both flexibility and strength which will decrease the danger signals coming into the brain from weak and tight tissues,
  • Can improve circulation, helping to relax the muscles
  • Can increase the frequency of positive emotions
  • Can build physical and psychological resources, so the body responds less sensitively to potential threat
  • Can improve pain control

Some good resources for Yoga information and DVD's are:

www.lifeisnow.ca

www.gaiam.com

www.healthjourneys.com

Meditation:

  • Exerts control over both pain and emotion
  • In one study, people who practiced meditation for 30 years showed 40-50% lower brain response to painful stimuli compared with healthy controls
  • Meditation has also been shown to be a great antidote to heart disease
  • Meditation slows down your breathing, allowing you to focus on your breath

Some good resources for Meditation are:

www.padmameditation.com

www.urbandharma.org

Qi Gong and Tai Chi:

  • Qi Gong increases awareness of the body
  • Helps with body mapping, which strengthens the connection between sensation and movement in the brain
  • Helps facilitate deep abdominal breathing in an active, yet calm way
  • Loosens up the thoracic spine (mid-back) and regulates the autonomic nervous system
  • Teaches you to move without tension which helps to clear internal stress

Some good resources for Tai Chi and Qi Gong are:

www.exercisetoheal.com

www.healthjourneys.com

Look up your local Taoist Society for Tai Chi classes

Guided Relaxation:

  • Allows for individual exploration into belief patterns and movement patterns that may not be helpful
  • Increases body awareness without judgement; minimizes catastrophization
  • Carrico et al (2009) demonstrated 45% improvement in pain scores and episodes of urgency in women with interstitial cystitis with guided relaxation

Some good resources for Guided Relaxation are:

www.heathjourneys.com

www.lifeisnow.ca 

If you have a sensitive nervous system, you need to choose at least one of the above activities, and practice it at least 30 minutes per day, every day.