Today’s topic is the calmness and arousal of nervous system. To not raise the bar, I ask you to perceive this article from the level of a kitchen conversation over a cup of coffee. There will not be dry scientific facts, but my long-term living observations of clients, myself, and life in general. In places, I use a non-scientific vocabulary. Some states of consciousness can be expressed more easily and vividly in the language of spiritual teachings.
As it often happens with me, trying to concentrate on information, I squeeze and crumple my thoughts. Therefore, I advise you to read slowly, thoughtfully.
Cheerfulness and Lethargy
Everyone is familiar with the state when there is no strength, you do not want anything, and your head does not work. Everyone is aware of the state when forces are overwhelmed, the motivation is high, and the head is clear. You can suffer for years from lethargy and not even understand how you create this state for yourself.
Usually, the tone of the body matches the tone of the mind. If the body is charged, then the head also understands. And if the body is de-energized, then the head is turned off.
It is challenging to act in a low tone: you do things reluctantly through force. If you live in a familiar style all the time, gross emotions prevail resentment, pity, apathy, and the extreme stage – depression.
Depression is a blockage of your life energy. Therefore, depression includes the complete set of attributes of an inhibited nervous system: eternal fatigue, drowsiness, inattention, resentment, and indifference. A person seems to be turned off by both body and consciousness.
It is easy to act in an increased tone and even joy: the body is charged, the head is clear. You get involved in reality as much as possible. High tone is of great value. But there are also pitfalls here.
In an increased tone, gross emotions disappear – sensitivity, sadness, apathy decrease. But a new negative feeling arises. The excitement of the nervous system increases anxiety. The more the acceleration, the stronger the anxiety. It can develop into fear (I will say more about this later). Therefore, anxiety is treated with sedatives. The nervous system calms down – the person no longer worries. But again, he succumbs to resentment and apathy.
Simplistically, patients in psychiatric hospitals can be divided into violent and inhibited. Rampant patients are deterred. The inhibited are awakened.
For the acceleration (excitement) of the nervous system, hormones are primarily responsible: adrenaline, cortisol, and dopamine.
Dopamine is a hormone of lively interest and anticipation. It awakens and makes life exciting.
Cortisol is sometimes described as a stress hormone. That mobilizes at the physical level. May intensify negative experiences such as anxiety and irritation. The body is toned, and the consciousness is fussily agitated.
Adrenaline is sometimes described as a fear hormone, and that is closely associated with fear. It’s not that simple. I would call adrenaline a mobilization hormone. It quickly raises the tone: vigor increases, perception sharpens.
Adrenaline and cortisol are not only produced from fear or stress; they are essential for everyday life. Their level rises in the morning to help us wake up. By the evening, the production of adrenaline and cortisol is reduced to prepare the body for sleep. Therefore, power loads in the evening are contraindicated – they knock down the mode of hormone production.
Acceleration of Perception
You can find conflicting information about the effects of adrenaline. Some doctors claim that adrenaline triggers fear and even panic attacks, and others remind that reckless extremals get an adrenaline rush. They deliberately arrange danger for themselves: they jump with a parachute and drive at high speeds to raise their adrenaline level.
Is adrenaline a thrill or fear? I will share my opinion.
First of all, adrenaline accelerates the nervous system and increases receptivity. Your mindfulness of the present moment in life is rapidly growing. A spike in attention can lead to cognitive shock.
In my last article, I already said that the life we know exists because we live half asleep. Everything that we know is like a dream. These are our thoughts evoking the past and the future. They are held at a specific frequency of perception. When attention increases, you wake up, and the usual picture of life dissipates. Everything starts to seem unusual and strange, as if you are looking at life for the first time. Supports fall out from under your feet, and derealization begins. The world seems fake.
If you are not prepared for heightened awareness, it will be scary. Like a baby thrown into an intersection during the chaos.
It is aggravated by the fact that the increased adrenaline increases the heartbeat and quickens breathing. It may seem like a heart attack has begun. The body goes hot and cold. It becomes scary for your life. And a new wave of fear leads to the release of the next portion of adrenaline, and the nervous system is even more excited. As a result, the consciousness locks in a cycle: adrenaline – the splitting of the body and mind – fear – and again adrenaline. It is how the panic attack unfolds.
At a low level of awareness, gross emotions prevail resentment, apathy, sadness, and the average life seems serious and challenging. Raising awareness frees you from awful feelings, and life seems more accessible and more mobile. At the next level of attention, the picture of everyday life begins to dissolve, and fear appears. Fear is also kept at a particular frequency of perception. If you accelerate the perception even more, the fear passes, and the picture of everyday life dissipates like a dream.
At this level, unusual perceptual effects begin. Time slows down and stands still. There is a feeling of eternity. The primary emotion on this frequency of attention is surprise. If the perception continues to accelerate, surprise develops into amazement. As if you are observing something impossible. Ordinary life seems like an incredible miracle. High levels of perception are the goal of spiritual seekers.
Low tone locks in depression. A moderate tone is essential for life. Elevated leads to stress. At the maximum level, a person will either go crazy or brighten.
Any wild experimentation with perception is life-threatening. And you can get stuck for a long time at the stage of fear. Spiritual seekers call it the night of the soul. I read somewhere that Gurdjieff arranged practices for his followers on the verge of life and death to raise their level of awareness.
Mindfulness is Magic, or Is It Commonplace?
Recently, one of my clients said that awareness does not give anything special – it is quite a familiar feeling. How really?
If we imagine that the maximum attentiveness is ten points, then the average person’s attention floats somewhere in the range from zero to three. Three points – his full everyday attention.
If one practices mindfulness regularly, one day, he will reach the 4th level of mindfulness. And it will be new sensations. He will feel that he and everything around him has changed. As if he sees life for the first time with completely different eyes.
When awareness rises a little beyond your yesterday’s maximum, it feels like pleasant excitement and interest in life. As if spring had come into my soul.
If awareness continues to grow, interest in life turns into surprise. The power of surprise is directly proportional to the level of understanding. The more attentive you are to the present moment of life, the bigger the surprise.
It is the main reason why we get experiences in new places while traveling. I already spoke about this in one of the old articles. Impressions are brought not by new places but by our attention. New places grab attention and make it more intense. It is how different degrees of surprise arise. With the same success, you can get impressions in your backyard, chatting with friends if you are aware.
What Improves the Tone of Nervous System?
At the psychological level, the nervous system’s tone is increased:
- high motivation due to belief in success
- interest in the process (anything: communication, work, hobbies)
- trust in yourself and your path
- competition and competition (for example, games like Counter-strike)
- stressful situations when you need to catch something important
Therefore, many of us put off important things until the last. Until it squeezes. When it presses, stress begins – and hormones go into battle. Cortisol, adrenaline rises, and finally, the strength to act appears. Therefore, students start preparing for the exam on the last day, and they manage to do more in a day than in the entire previous month.
One client of mine has proven the benefits of being angry. If she gets angry, strength immediately appears. Cortisol is triggered. And if the situation is also dangerous, adrenaline is added. No matter how lazy you are, you immediately wake up.
At the physical level, the tone is increased by:
- healthy nutrition, vitamins
- physical activity, morning exercises
- cool shower
- rhythmic music
At the chemical level, the tone is increased by strong tea and coffee, energy drinks, stimulants, and some antidepressants.
It’s okay to help the body tone up with a cup of tea. Athletes drink caffeine-based stimulants for the same purpose before going to the gym. But it is impossible to abuse chemical substitutes – they deplete the body.
Not everyone knows that regular tea – both black and green – is a psychoactive substance. Many people drink tea in the evenings and then wonder: where does vigor before going to bed come from? And why was there no cheerfulness during the day when it was needed?
A high concentration of tea in boiling water creates a kefir drink. It sharply excites the nervous system. You can easily bypass the stage of harmonious vigor and create stress for yourself out of the blue.
I remembered by the way: Osho said that he drank coffee all week before his enlightenment.
When clients come to me with insomnia, anxiety, and panic attacks, I ask what they are using. Sometimes anxiety disappears simply by eliminating caffeine from the diet.
Lifehack 1: Stimulants Neutralize Sedatives
If you are drunk and need to sober up quickly, drink strongly brewed black or green tea. You will sober up. Because of this pattern, it is useless to take stimulants and sedatives at the same time. They overlap each other in both directions.
Lifehack 2: Physical Activity Burns out The Anxiety
We unconsciously perceive our energy as fuel for solving problems. Therefore, a jump in energy when the nervous system is excited signals the brain that a problem has arisen. If the overexcited organism is physically loaded, the brain will make sure that we can solve the problem and begin to calm down. Also, physical activity by itself discharges the “energy” of anxiety and normalizes biochemical processes in the brain. Therefore, some people calm down in the gym or during home cleaning.
Lifehack 3: Harmony is A Moderate Tone
Overuse of nervous system acceleration can lead to bipolar disorder. It is also a manic-depressive psychosis. You are cyclical – sometimes an overexcited maniac, then a depressed sloth. If an emotional rollercoaster has begun, it’s time to tame yourself and aim for moderation.
Nowadays, the term “susceptible people” is gaining popularity. They have thin skin – that is, increased sensitivity to life, and they perceive more per second than others. They have better-developed intuition and attention to detail. All this leads to increased excitability of the nervous system. A compassionate person gets excited more easily and gets tired of everything faster. Even a little stress or a cup of coffee in the morning can lead to insomnia.
What Calms the Nervous System?
The nervous system is calmed: again, physical activity (yoga and walks are especially good in this regard), daily regimen, meditation, reading, mental communication, calm music, warm salt baths – in general, a leisurely lifestyle without high levels, without stress.
When our mind is arranged, we constantly mentally run ahead, try to jump out of the present, excite ourselves. If you intercept these impulses with your attention, then you calm down. Mindfulness to your body and mind relieves stress and balances the nervous system. Make it a habit to notice the present moment, your body in space, and your thoughts.
If the problem remains at the level of the psyche (these may be disturbing thoughts and feelings), then the best way out is to contact a psychologist.
It’s normal to help the body calm down with a cup of chamomile tea or motherwort. It’s okay to help yourself with a course of sedatives. Pharmacies are full of light anti-anxiety drugs. You can, for example, drink valerian in capsules.
Someone drinks a glass of wine before going to bed. Alcohol is a powerful sedative. But it is addictive. Gluttony works similarly – it blocks receptivity, and the person calms down. Gluttony and alcoholism are an escape from oneself.
Another serious option to calm down is receptor sedatives, hypnotics, and tranquilizers. A psychotherapist or psychiatrist can prescribe them. Sometimes they are necessary.
Potent sedatives inhibit and disable a person – his presence in his life becomes less. Therefore, one cannot act at random here either.
To keep yourself in good shape, you need to be attentive to yourself. Don’t take yourself and your fortunes for granted. Notice how your lifestyle affects you: actions, thoughts, hobbies, communication style, diet.