NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE or what your life is like, if you are alive on planet Earth today reading this, you are living with at least some level of trauma locked inside your nervous system.
Even if you have been thriving in the past few years of unprecedented weirdness and insanity, you are not unsusceptible to the collective consciousness loaded with grief, fear and uncertainty.
For some people, especially empaths more sensitive to the energies of division, there is still so much to process and integrate during this time of expansive evolutionary shift in human consciousness.
As we navigate the varying degrees of trauma, both individually and collectively, a deep commitment to restorative rest is of the utmost importance. I am not talking about taking it easy or scheduling in some downtime. This is way more impactful and far more important. This is about allowing the body to do what it needs to do to neutralize the stress it is experiencing, both consciously and subconsciously.
The following is a guide to various ways we can radically support ourselves as we move through the unknown, which is always.
The Autonomic nervous system
As we look towards various modalities for self-soothing or self-healing, we must start with the motherboard: the nervous system, and specifically the autonomic nervous system.
Acts of stillness do not imply laziness. This is old paradigm thinking. Acts of stillness are pro-actively supporting your body’s innate ability to heal.
THE THREE STATES OF THE AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM
Beta brain waves, both high and low. This is baseline, normal function, going about business as usual.
Lower beta, theta and delta brain waves. This is the reparation, detoxification and restoration state of the body.
High beta brain waves. This is the fight-or-flight state. A cascade of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are released. All repair systems SHUT OFF.
All three states serve us in different ways. However, when we experience prolonged states of fear, anxiety, anger or depression (or any form of trauma even at low levels) we are spending too much time switching on the sympathetic nervous system. Prolonged periods with the sympathetic nervous system correlate with many long-term health risks. This is mainly becuase stress hormones cause inflammation and impede the workings of our immune system.
In contrast, when we are under the influence of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) our bodies can digest food properly, uptake the nutrients into the cells more effectively, regulate blood sugar, regulate blood pressure, build antibodies and allow our bodies to do what they are designed to do so beautifully; detoxify and regenerate on a cellular level.
REST FORWARD WITH PROACTIVE NAPPING
Rest-forward means putting rest in the bank. This is the opposite of remedying a sleep deficit, such as taking a nap after a bad night’s sleep or a night of excess. This is an important distinction. To rest forward means that you take time each day to encourage your body to switch on the parasympathetic nervous system, no matter if you’re tired or not, well-slept or not. All healing happens here. This is a PREVENTION VS CURE approach, which we already know is the better of the two.
Napping is my favourite way to switch on my parasympathetic nervous system and reboot my energy. I try to nap every day if possible. I find that the ’20-minute power nap’ is extremely effective at restoring my afternoon energy levels and brain function. As long as I have my nap before 4 pm, it does not interfere with my night’s sleep and more likely helps me with sleep with less interruption during the night.
HOW TO NAP
CHOOSE YOUR NAP TIME IN ADVANCE
Decide your desired nap time, and set a timer. Include the time you need to fall asleep. 5 minutes usually does it. You do not necessarily have to be tired to take a healing, restorative nap. Do not oversleep beyond your timer and it is best practice never to nap longer than 90 minutes. Naps must be completed 5 hours before your bedtime
20-25 minutes: extremely revitalizing to brain wave patterns, refreshing – OPTIMAL DAILY NAPPING
45 minutes: allowing for deeper cellular restoration – BEST FOR MISSED SLEEP
90 minutes: all three stages of sleep are reached – BEST FOR EXHASUTED STATES
SCHEDULE IT – LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE THAT MATTERS
e.g. lunch 1:00pm | nap 3:00pm | yoga 6:30pm | dinner 8:00pm
DO NOT DISTURB
Devices must be silenced. Ask the people you cohabitate with that you will not be disturbed during your nap time.
DON’T FORCE IT
You do not have to fall fast asleep to gain the benefits of a nap. Even just shutting your eyes and relaxing the body is helpful. However, if you are not enjoying the experience, don’t force it. If it’s not happening, just get up and try again tomorrow.
SET THE SPACE
Nap in a dark room or use an eye mask (or a soft folded t-shirt).
QUIET AS POSSIBLE
Use earplugs if there is any disturbing external noise. Try to nap in silence. Even beautiful sounds like bird songs or soft music if slightly too loud can slow the rate at which we drop asleep.
GET EXTRA WARM
As we drop into sleep, our temperature falls. Cold = contracted and tense whereas warm = expanded, calm and open. I like to use a hot water bottle resting on my chest which I find extremely soothing. Make sure you are covered with a blanket even if you are warm as you lie down to remedy the drop in body temperature.
Binaural beats lower brain wave frequencies. Binaural beats really only work with headphones. I prefer over-ear headphones for binaural beats. They can take a little getting used to, keep the volume on the low side.
Pzizz is a great free napping app.
Yoga Nidra leads us into the blissful state somewhere inbetween sleep and consciousness. A state where the body sleeps and the mind remains slightly awake. Yoga nidra is an extremely enjoyable and deeply restorative state to experiment with. There are free recordings available on the yoga nidra network.
VAGUS NERVE STIMULATION
The vagus nerve represents the main component of the parasympathetic nervous system. Learning simple techniques to stimulate or activate this built-in superpower is very simple and with big payoff.
- Gargling for 3-5 minutes every evening. Use freshwater, saltwater or an infusion made from fresh rosemary, oregano or thyme
- Practice bumblebee breath (Bhramari pranayama)
- Practice CAT-COW – inhaling up, exhaling down
- Any form of conscious and slow breathing especially longer exhales than inhales
PRACTICE SLEEP HYGIENE
Sleep hygiene simply means cleaning up your messy sleep habits. There is no quick-fix solution to poor sleep but every little bit counts. Sleep hygiene is about making sleep and bedtime a ritual, and being adamant about sticking to it.
- Best to have at least 3 hours between the last meal and sleep
- Take a short, brisk 10-20 minute walk 1-hour after your last meal
- Establish your bedtime and try to stick to it
- Discover your chronotype and use this to determine your optimal bedtime
- Get offline- at least 1-hour before bedtime
- No “news” before bed! Be vigilant about the information you digest between your last meal and bedtime
- If you work on a computer after dark, install F.lux on your laptop. This amazing app works with the sunrise and sunset in your geographical location to prevent you from looking at blue light (known to disrupt sleep) after the sun goes down.
NIGHTY-NIGHT FOOT MASSAGE
Once you are ready for bed, sitting at the side of your bed, rub your feet, slowly and mindfully with warm oil or balm. Go as slow as you can, and focus on the pleasure of it.
You could choose to print a reflexology chart and locate the brain points, explore and play around looking for the pineal gland point, lung points and any areas of the body which are troublesome to you.
FOR ELECTROMAGNETIC SENSITIVES
We are electromagnetic beings and are living in electromagnetic environments, and therefore respond to them. For some people this relationship goes unnoticed and for some it makes a massive impact. If you suffer from issues of EMF, otherwise know as “Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity” it is worth further exploration into the topic. Symptoms can anything like headaches, fatigue, sleep disturbances, skin symptoms like prickling, burning sensations and rashes, pain and ache in muscles etc. If you suffer from any of these symptoms it might be worth lowering your electromagnetic impact with the following:
- Turn off your Wi-Fi router overnight
- Turn off the breaker in your bedroom
- Do not sleep with your head within 20 inches of an electrical outlet
I hope this has been helpful and inspiring to you. One tiny nap in the name of MORE REGENERATIVE REST is all thats needed.