5 Signs Your Nervous System Is Out Of Whack & What To Do About It
5 Signs Your Nervous System Is Out Of Whack & What To Do About It

5 Signs Your Nervous System Is Out Of Whack & What To Do About It

Thanks to busy lives and overflowing inboxes, we all tend to feel stressed at some point these days. Among other things, that stress can soon impact the nervous system, so it’s worth getting on top of early. Here are five signs you need to act – and three things you can do to get yourself back on track.
By Georgia Day

Stress is something most of us feel at some point during the day. Whether it’s caused by looming deadlines, an overloaded inbox or juggling too many commitments for yourself and your family, stress is a pervasive feature in our daily lives that we must learn to manage. Because, if ignored, stress can quickly spiral, with serious consequences on all systems in the body including the nervous systems.

“Our fast-paced ‘always on’ lives mean that we over-stimulate our nervous system pretty much on a daily basis,” says energy and body worker Holly Warren. “We face the risk of burnout if we do not make some lifestyle adjustments.” Although a frayed temper, trouble sleeping and regular headaches are some of the more common signs that stress is having an impact on your nervous system, there are other, less common ones to watch out for. Read on and prepare to stress less…


You’re Sweating More Than Usual

Elevated stress levels trigger the body’s fight or flight mode, a stress response which is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. When this switches on, it releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. As well as causing an increased heart rate and body temperature, it prompts the sensitive apocrine glands to respond by releasing excess sweat to cool the body down and keep fluid levels balanced. If your body is in a chronic state of stress – whatever the cause – these glands become confused and continue to overproduce sweat. While it’s common to experience this sweat in your armpits, hairline and genitals, it can be experienced all over the body.


You’re Highly Sensitive

Manifesting itself in both emotional and physical ways, a dysregulated nervous system can play havoc with your response to external stimuli. “An overwhelmed nervous system can heighten your sensitivity; from easily reacting to noise, touch, light to feeling deeply affected by others’ energy or mood,” explains Sophie Belle Watts, founder of Mind You Club. Add to that the everyday challenges that are part and parcel of a normal day, and it’s no wonder we feel frazzled.

“We have a lot of demands on us in 2024 – over 70% more than our grandparents. That constantly being in demand, plus the sources of comparison and opportunity we expose ourselves to (such as social media, targeted ads, emails and messaging apps) overstimulate us,” says Sophie. “This creates more thought cycles than our brains are able to process (the evolution of tech far outweighs the development of our brains) and creates an unease within our bodies that habitually keeps us in fight or flight mode and unable to come back into balance.”


You Have Pain In Your Teeth Or Jaw

Unexplained pain flare-ups anywhere in the body are a sign that your body’s sympathetic nervous system (part of the autonomic nervous system) has been activated continuously, but persistent pain in your jaw or teeth is many people’s first obvious sign that something is awry. Whether it’s a sharp pain in your teeth, feeling raised ridges on the insides of your cheeks or problems with the alignment of your jaw, it’s likely caused by night-time tooth grinding brought on by stress.


You Often Experience Gut Issues

“Poor gut health, IBS and changes in appetite are often a direct result of a dysregulated nervous system,” says Sophie. Thanks to the brain-gut axis – a connecting system that runs between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system – the health of one has a direct impact on the other and vice versa. That means, if all is not well in the CNS, it’ll show up in gut issues. “The body is a messenger and will show where you are holding onto stress and tension,” adds Holly.


Your Eating Habits Have Changed

It probably comes as no surprise that stress causes healthy eating habits to go out the window. How easily this can happen might be more of a surprise. Sleep is vital to several brain functions, including how nerve cells communicate with each other. If chronic stress is causing disrupted sleep patterns, it can interfere with this communication. According to one study, one night of broken sleep is all it takes to have an impact on your frontal lobe, the area of your brain that controls complex decision making such as healthy eating habits. Lack of sleep also impairs your brain’s ability to signal to the body effectively, causing disruption to the hunger hormones, ghrelin and leptin, that regulate cravings and satiety. “When our nervous system is overwhelmed, we lose that mind-body connection and are very much in survival mode,” says Sophie. “It’s really common to lack in confidence, find yourself feeling powerless and out of control, and it’s hard to maintain a consistently strong mindset.”

How To Get Your Nervous System Back On Track...

Redraw Your Boundaries

Saying no to things that don’t serve you, drain your energy and impact your physical health is a vital first step. “Whether it’s having distraction-free time away from screens or saying no to things that don’t bring you fulfilment or happiness, boundaries are going to provide a really good way of you reconnecting to yourself and rebalancing your body,” says Sophie. “Although it can feel uncomfortable at first, this also gives you the opportunity to reconnect with yourself, and confront the things that are keeping you stressed and stretched.”

Prioritise Relaxation

“Allow sufficient wind-down time before bed (at least an hour) as this gives the chance to disconnect from the day, to calm our minds and prepare for sleep,” suggests Holly. Although it may seem innocuous, scheduling in a bath can have a big impact on resetting the nervous system. “Your skin releases endorphins in response to soothing warm water,” she explains. “This will help to take you out of an anxious state and will flood the body with feel-good hormones.”

If time and budget allow, a targeted stress-busting or sleep-inducing treatment can be a powerful tool in your wellbeing arsenal. “I recommend getting a regular body massage or reflexology as they can promote deep relaxation by triggering the parasympathetic nervous system and bringing the body back into a natural repair state,” says Holly. “I also believe in NSDR (non-sleep deep rest) which is a method of deep relaxation that has been shown to be as effective as sleep for bringing about biological change. Practices include walking in nature, taking a bath, yoga or any mindfulness activity.” Dreem Distillery’s Bioharmony treatment is aimed specifically at this and is a great place to start (£170 for 90 minutes at 180 The Strand).

Experiment With Strategies

The vagus nerve is responsible for regulating the parasympathetic nervous system, the opposing system to the sympathetic nervous system that takes charge of the ‘rest and digest’ phase. One way to kickstart the parasympathetic nervous system is to stimulate the vagus nerve, which you can do quickly and easily by singing, humming and even gargling (or anything that encourages physical reverberation of your vocal chords). When you do one of these things, it sends signals to slow your heart rate, deepen your breathing, and rebalance your blood flow, effectively putting you into a more relaxed state. Focusing consciously on your breathing is another good option. Breathing so that you expand your abdomen each time, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is another way to directly stimulate the vagus nerve. Finally, if you’re up for something more intense, try some cold-water therapy, such as wild swimming or cold-water immersion. Although your body goes into stress response mode initially, as it adjusts to the cold temperature your parasympathetic activity increases while your sympathetic activity declines.

DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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