Above: JOYFUL ACTION: connecting with friends and doing something that inspires you is a ventral vagal activity (an activity to tone your vagus nerve and brings you into a a state of social engagement. It is good for your health, as you'll read below) What joyful action can you take today for your wellbeing?
PERSONAL INSIGHTS ON BURNOUT RECOVERY & THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
As a practitioner who is recovering from burnout, I have the privileged perspective of first hand experience to inform my work with people who are also on their own healing journeys.
What I have discovered on this road to recovery has shaped my offerings and service today.
Including regular practices that serve to tone the vagus nerve has made the single biggest difference in
mine and my clients’ healing journeys. In my experience they not only get better quicker (reduction of symptoms in a shorter time) but they develop a new mindset and perspective - they change their minds, outlook, and their health outcomes.
Nervous system ‘work’ consists of a variety of practices that are designed to activate or tone the vagus nerve, and thus bring you into a state of calm connectedness (otherwise known as the Ventral vagal state). It is literally switching the stress response OFF, and reaping all the physiological and psychological benefits of doing so.
For many people who are wired into the threat or freeze response, feeling safe or connected to calm is an abstract, unreachable idea. Repeatedly trying, and failing to ‘ feel calm’ is a big trigger for feeling even more frustrated and lonely, I have observed.
In a person wired for stress, hypervigilance and reactive living become the norm.
The interesting thing about this state of being is that it is both a perspective that creates an experience of the world and a physiological response (set of markers that can be measured). It becomes a negative feedback loop - the body reacts to a threat, creating a physiological response, and the persons experience of the world is that it is a threatening place. The threat response can continue often even when the threat has passed - creating a chronic stress response and paving the way to burnout.
High cortisol leads to high levels of glucose, and thins the blood brain barrier, the gut lining and disrupts the gut biome. Over time this can lead to autoimmune disease, fibromyalgia, poor focus and memory ( adhd symptoms) leaky gut, IBS, skin issues, hormonal imbalance, anxiety and in my case - chronic, crippling inflammation.
Through toning the vagus nerve, and moving into parasymathetic dominance (ventral state/ or rest and digest) clients have reported benefits as diverse as “less pain” (with immediate effect), “less anxiety”,and the experience of the environment changes - “the sky looks more blue” said one client as they opened their eyes from a guided session. Previously stuck or fast held beliefs or fears about ourselves and the world shift easily, and replaced with thoughts that are nurture our internal peace. Self compassion replaces a relentless drive to ' be different' somehow. (It is common for high achievers to have chronically dysregulated nervous systems, and experience more burnout)
As our nervous systems regulate and we move into ventral vagal state, we experience feelings of being safer in our bodies and our environments.
As I healed my own nervous system, I not only healed my body but I also completely transformed my view of the world. It is no longer a threatening place, and I no longer feel unsafe.
I love the simple elegance of this work so much.
This has the power to change our whole lives. Indeed, it has changed mine.
Below I share some practical ways to tone your vagus nerve and regulate your nervous system - bringing you into a state of calm, safety & connection.
Practical ways to return to regulation:
Activating the vagus nerve brings the body down from a reactive stress response, slowing down the heart rate, reducing blood pressure, regulating the circulation in the brain.
. The Vagus Nerve is the longest nerve in the body. Innervating the brain and the heart, lungs, throat, liver, and stomach and intestines - it’s the super highway of bi directional communication between these organs. It is the pathway for acetylcholine, the calming neurotransmitter in the body.
The vagus nerve, when activated - acts as an off switch for the bodys stress response. Try these practices below to activate the vagus nerve and experience more grounded peace in your body.
Stroke the arms - cross your arms and place hands on your shoulders (as if you are giving yourself a hug). Now very very slowly, as slowly as feels good - stroke your arms , stopping when you get to your elbows and beginning yourself back to the start position again - repeating this action until you feel a sigh, yawn, or a deepening into your body (you’ll know what this is when you feel it!)
Hug someone until you feel a deeper shift of relaxation
Heart coherence (breathing into the heart and out from the heart, find a place of appreciation and allow yourself to sit here for a while.)
Basic Exercise - lie down on your back. Clasp hands together and hold at back of head, cradling your head in your hands.Look far left with your eyes only, keeping face looking straight ahead. When you have sighed, or felt a shift in your body, look far right. This exercise activates the vagus nerve.
If you would like to experience more on this topic, I teach 6 week courses on the Polyvagal Theory, and practical ways to activate the vagus nerve and being yourself into a state of regulation, grounded balance.
To join the next cohort of Vagus Nerve Activators: go to Full Spectrum Health /
If you feel like you would love some support this summer in person, join myself, Lucy Hare (life coach) and the Team at Shine Retreats in Italy this July 6-13.
Alongside hot springs excursions and nervous system guided sessions, 1:1 kinesiology, life coaching sessions, to bring you into a state of balance and groundedness, you will be fed nourishing menu designed by Ella our nutritional therapist.