Our nervous system is an incredibly complex and sophisticated system that is responsible for our ability to perceive, process, and respond to the world around us. It plays a crucial role in our emotional regulation, stress response, and overall well-being. However, many of us are not aware of how our nervous system works and how it affects our relationships. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of becoming more aware of our nervous system’s responses and how it can impact our self-esteem, growth as individuals, and relationships, especially for parents and young teenagers.
About The Nervous System
The nervous system is divided into two main parts: the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The CNS includes the brain and spinal cord, while the PNS consists of all the nerves that connect the CNS to the rest of the body. The PNS is further divided into two parts: the somatic nervous system, which controls voluntary movements, and the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which controls involuntary actions such as heart rate, breathing, and digestion.
The ANS is the part of the nervous system that is responsible for our stress response. It is divided into two parts: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The SNS is responsible for the “fight or flight” response, while the PNS is responsible for the “rest and digest” response. When we are faced with a perceived threat, the SNS is activated, and our body prepares for action. This response can be helpful in certain situations, but if it is activated too often or for too long, it can have negative effects on our health and relationships.
Becoming more aware of how our nervous system responds to cues of safety and perceived threat can help us better regulate our emotions and stress response. For example, if we notice that our heart rate increases and our muscles tense up when we are in a particular situation, we can use techniques such as deep breathing or mindfulness to activate our PNS and calm our stress response. This can help us feel more relaxed and centered, which can have a positive impact on our self-esteem and growth as individuals.
Getting Our Needs Met
Understanding our nervous system also helps us to understand our own needs and to be able to ask for them with calmness and clarity. When we are in a state of stress or perceived threat, we may not be able to clearly communicate our needs to others. However, if we are aware of our nervous system’s responses and can regulate our stress response, we are more likely to be able to communicate our needs effectively. This can help us get our needs met and improve our relationships.
One of the of benefits of improved communication is growth in our active listening skills. Active listening involves giving the other person our full attention, listening to their words, and trying to understand their point of view. When we are in a state of stress or perceived threat, it can be challenging to listen actively. However, if we are aware of our nervous system’s responses and can regulate our stress response, we are more likely to be able to listen actively and improve our communication with others therefore building stronger relationships.
Our nervous system takes in information through our senses. These include sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. For example, when we see something that we perceive as a threat, our nervous system sends a signal to our brain, which activates our stress response. Similarly, when we hear something that we perceive as comforting or calming, our nervous system sends a signal to our brain, which activates our PNS and calms our stress response.
To increase our awareness of how our individual nervous system responds, we can practice techniques such as mindfulness, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation. These techniques can help us regulate our stress response and become more aware of how our body responds to different situations. Aslo creating a sensory processing map is a helpful tool to understand our own and our loved ones activators.
We can also pay attention to our physical sensations and emotions. When we feel stressed or anxious, we may notice that our heart rate increases, our muscles tense up, and our breathing becomes shallow. By paying attention to these physical sensations, we can become more aware of our stress response and learn to regulate it more effectively.
Another way to increase our awareness of how our nervous system works is to practice self-reflection and self-awareness. This involves taking the time to reflect on our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and how they relate to our nervous system’s responses. By becoming more self-aware, we can learn to recognize patterns in our behavior and make changes to improve our relationships and overall well-being.
Parents and Teenagers
For parents and young teenagers, becoming more aware of how their individual nervous system works can be particularly beneficial. Adolescence is a time of significant changes and transitions, and young people may struggle to regulate their emotions and stress response. By teaching young people about their nervous system’s responses and how to regulate them, parents can help their children develop healthy coping strategies and improve their relationships with others whilst learning valuable skills to take into adulthood.
Becoming more aware of how our nervous system works and how it affects our relationships can have numerous benefits. By regulating our stress response, we can improve our self-esteem, growth as individuals, and communication with others.
Understanding our nervous system also helps us to understand our own needs and ask for them effectively, which can improve our relationships with others. By practicing techniques such as mindfulness and self-reflection, we can increase our awareness of our nervous system’s responses and learn to regulate them more effectively. Ultimately, this can lead to improved relationships, better communication, and greater overall well-being.