Why not buy yourself or your family member a Christmas gift that will help the brain and body in its attempts to heal from stress and trauma?
The benefits to this will be that you’ll have a much better year in 2018! Even if the gift is for a family member who is healing from trauma, you’ll still have a better 2018 if they are less reactive and are in a more grounded and healthy place.
I’ve compiled the top 8 gifts that I would recommend to help you take the next step in healing your body from chronic stress and trauma.
Chronic stress and trauma not only just affect your psychology and emotions, but also cause chronic effects on every system in your brain and body, because of the consequences that trauma has on the nervous system. Often times, we’re unaware of how stress and trauma affects our health until it begins disturbing our sanity and emotional health. These emotional reactions are just the tip of the iceberg that represent a much bigger disruption of our health underneath the mood problems and overreactions.
Healing the nervous system will restore one’s health and as a result, it will further heal one’s sanity and emotional health.
So whether you’re more interested in optimizing your physical health for years to come or really just want to get better control of some of that anxiety, depression, and coping mechanisms that have negative consequences on your life, these gifts will help you get there.
I have chosen these specific gifts, because they are simple and very effective. They don’t require extensive time or energy to learn about or understand how to use them. In addition to being simple, they’re effective immediately, unlike many medications or therapies!
If you’ve read some of my other blogs or watched some of my Youtube videos, you’ll know that there’s a lot that goes into healing the brain and body from chronic stress and trauma. In no way am I intending to communicate that these items are the only things you’ll ever need to restore your optimum physical, mental, and emotional health! However, no matter at what stage you’re in your healing process, just beginning or having done years of work already, these gifts will help the healing process. These gifts alone will not bring you to full healing, but will better help you get there alongside other healing methods previously discussed in earlier blogs.
If you give yourself one of these gifts for healing, your brain and body will be very grateful and will express that gratitude with improved energy, mental clarity, and emotional stability!
Merry Christmas Nervous System!
Gift #1: Irlen Color Overlays for computer use and reading
Irlen Syndrome is a condition in which the brain has a processing problem with light that leads to poor concentration, more difficult time remembering what was read, and fatigue. Most are unaware that they’re even having a processing problem!
At this time, it’s unknown whether early developmental trauma is related to a processing disorder like Irlen Syndrome, but it’s certainly possible. It does make sense that it could be related, since early childhood attachment trauma is linked to sensory processing disorders.
Either way, trauma can cause the nervous system to go into a chronic state of high alert and hypersensitivity to the surrounding environment. This is a natural biological response to a sense of always feeling on alert and in some kind of danger.
For many people, this results in light sensitivity with bright lights and specific wavelengths of light, which tend to be more irritating to the nervous system than others.
Those who have a history of having had a head injury while playing sports, an accident, or any other traumatic brain injury have responded very well to Irlen color filters.
From the Irlen Syndrome website on Traumatic Head Injuries, they review the research and conclude that “The longer that head injury clients wear their Irlen Spectral Filters, the greater their ability to function normally cognitively, behaviorally and academically, indicating that color may, in fact, allow healing to take place by calming down the brain and reducing stress on the central nervous system.
Whether or not you think you or your child may have Irlen Syndrome, it doesn’t cost much to get the colored overlays to see if you feel better while working on your computer or reading a book.
After being screened, I don’t think I have Irlen Syndrome, but find the colored overlays very helpful. I am able to work longer, concentrate better, and feel less exhaustion or eye strain.
Gift #2: Acupressure Mat and Pillow
Our nervous system is in charge of sensing everything that touches our skin and then communicates that touch to the brain to let it know the exact location and the quality of the touch. Is the touch sharp or soft, light or deep, moving or still?
For these reasons, touch has a direct impact on the nervous system. We can change our nervous system, calming it down or stimulating it, all through various kinds of touch.
Acupuncture and reflexology have been well-studied methods by which we can influence the health and function of the nervous system, and here is a simple in-home way to safely use this science to benefit your health.
I have used the acupressure mat and pillow for about a year. I first got it to help me fall asleep faster, which it definitely helped, but then I started using it on my feet to better ground myself (bring my attention back into the present moment). With all the sensory nerve endings in our feet, it was a great way to provide a quick stimulation and dopamine rush to the brain, helping with my mood and focus!
Whether laying or standing on the mat, it initially feels very stimulating as a million little bristle like things are poking you! However, very quickly your nervous system adjusts to sensory input and it actually relaxes into it. Because of the number of type of sensory input, it’s a deeper relaxation that the nervous system experiences, thus being used to help people fall asleep faster.
I use it for about 10 minutes at bedtime, and then walk on it once or twice throughout the day for my feet.
While I don’t use it for the purposes of pain, other people typically do and find it very helpful for back and neck pain as it will also attract blood flow to the area and relax and heal any muscle tension or inflammation.
Gift # 3: Lower Back Posture Support
The back bone that runs down from the back of your head down to your tailbone actually protects all the nerves that run down your spine. These nerves innervate all of your muscles and skin.
If your back posture is off, it will put a strain on these nerves, making your day feel a little harder. You’ll be more tired by the end of the day, but may be unaware that your posture could be contributing to this problem.
Maintaining the right curvature of your back is important, and it is impossible to remember to do that while also concentrating on your work or on the road while driving.
The correct way to use a back support for relaxing the nervous system is to push your butt all the way against the seat, then have the back support in the curvature part of your spine. This will push your belly out a bit, but when you have the right support, you will notice yourself take a spontaneous deep breath as it relaxes into the right posture.
Being able to use something that will do the job of maintaining an easy and relaxed position for your spinal cord and all of its nerves allows you to keep your mind on something else. The result will be more energy throughout the day and less tension in your muscles and body.
I use a back support all the time, especially while I am driving. It helps me to have a more relaxed drive, as well as be in a better mood with more energy wherever I arrive.
Whether you have a slight curvature in your back or not, it can feel so good to “pop” your back.
I find my body feels so much better after I use the foam roller to pop my upper back. I roll slowly up and down on it with my neck and back completely loose. My spine not only loves the flexibility of bending backwards, but also I hear a few cracks of my spine that feel like a chiropractic adjustment.
After using the foam roller, my chest feels more open and spacious, deeper breaths come more naturally, and my neck and back muscles have relaxed.
There are other uses for the foam roller; for example, I also use the foam roller as a foot support.
When I am sitting in a chair with my feet on the ground, I notice that when I have my feet up higher, my body is much more comfortable and relaxed.
I never knew this until I started my training to become a Somatic Experiencing practitioner. The instructor (Abi Blakeslee) and assistants were using foam blocks as foot support. Especially in those trainings were, just because of the topics being addressed, my nervous system can be activated, I found my nervous system was more resilient when I had my feet higher off the ground.
Now that I’m aware of what a difference this makes for my nervous system and my emotional stability when in situations that can trigger me, I use this all the time!
Even if I’m not in a situation where I think I will be triggered, why not just do what is most comfortable for my nervous system if I am continually trying to give it what it needs to heal?!
Some people take the foam roller to an even deeper level for healing their nervous system and use it for balance exercises! Balance is all controlled by the nervous system and its ability to perceive where our bodies are at in space. This is next on my list to start doing as well!
The two best ways to get magnesium is through the skin and through our diet.
Magnesium sulfate baths allow for magnesium to be absorbed through the skin into the muscles and tissues. Magnesium is very relaxing for the nervous system, and since it gets to the nerves this way, baths with Epsom salt is a great way to create a healing environment from trauma.
Magnesium can also be taken in through out diet, and magnesium supplementation has been in the news a lot lately in the field of addiction medicine because of its effectiveness in treating mood issues like depression and anxiety.
The best form to take is a chelated form that will absorb well in the gut. The chelated forms of magnesium all end in “ate,” like glycinate, malate, taurate.
In fact, these three come together in a triple magnesium supplement that I take every night. The different forms of magnesium do have different actions in the body, so taking a supplement that has three different forms is a great way to optimize your brain and body’s health and healing.
Gift #6: BlackOut Curtains
Sleep is all about getting the nervous system into the right state!
Light disrupts our sleep because it’s a sensory input into the nervous system, communicating that it’s daylight so it’s time to be awake and alert.
Sleep is actually a very active process, because it’s the body’s time to do all the clean-up work. Because of the sleep disruption, light changes how well our bodies restore and rejuvenate during sleep.
Black-out curtains create an environment that the body and brain need for it’s rejuvenating work during sleep. Maintaining adequate and restful sleep helps keep us in a place of emotional stability and builds a reservoir of resiliency to the day’s stress.
Gift #7: Mint Tea
Mint tea is very calming to the nervous system, and especially to the nervous system in the digestive tract.
When I’m stressed or have been triggered, I get a very tight ball in my stomach. I also get bloating and abdominal pain if I eat something to which I have a sensitivity. Mint tea is where I go to calm things back down in my gut!
For the best calming effect, the tea should be at your body’s internal temperature, which is not boiling hot, but warmer than room temperature.
For an extra calming effect, add a teaspoon of organic raw honey and feel your system relax!
Gift #8: HeartMath Monitor
The HeartMath device allows you to directly measure the health of your nervous system through tracking your heart rate variability.
Heart rate variability is the change in the time between the individual beats of your heart. Even though we all seem to think our heartbeat is regular, there’s actually fractions of a second difference between beats.
This difference in the time between each beat and the heart rate variability, is a direct measure of the state of your nervous system. The healthier and more calm and resilient state has more variation between each beat, and the more into survival or shut-down mode you go, you lose that variation.
This device is very convenient to not only track your nervous system throughout the day as you wear the device, but also because it allows you to practice and help program your nervous system to stay longer in a calm and resilient state.
This is really good for people who experience stress throughout their day, but don’t catch it in the moment! This device hooks onto your earlobe while you tuck the other device into your pocket, and it will notify you when you start to leave that calm and resilient state.
These are great greats to give to anyone who is trying to get their bodies into an overall healthy state, but this is especially true for those who have histories of trauma or attachment disorder. Although these gifts alone cannot heal the body and nervous system, these gifts can help that healing process.
I really hope for new growth and healing for you and your family this Holiday Season!
To Health ~