Today’s topic is nervous system and we’ll discuss about the calmness and arousal of nervous system in this article. In order not to 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 living long-term 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 give out a concentrate of 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 familiar with 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 difficult to act in a low tone: you do things reluctantly through force. If you live in a low tone 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 full 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 to 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 emotion 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 inhibited. 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 joyful interest and anticipation. It awakens and makes life exciting. I have a separate article on dopamine.
Cortisol is sometimes described as a stress hormone. He mobilizes at the bodily 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 he 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
Conflicting information can be found about the effects of adrenaline. Some doctors claim that adrenaline triggers fear and even panic attacks. Others remind that reckless extremals get an adrenaline rush. They deliberately arrange danger for themselves: they jump with a parachute, drive at high speeds to raise the level of adrenaline.
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 increasing. 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 certain 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.
This 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. This is how the panic attack unfolds.
At a low level of awareness, gross emotions prevail resentment, apathy, sadness, and the usual life seems serious and difficult. Raising awareness frees you from gross emotions, and life seems easier and more mobile. At the next level of awareness, the picture of the usual life begins to dissolve and fear appears. Fear is also kept at a certain frequency of perception. If you accelerate the perception, even more, the fear passes, and the picture of the usual 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 main emotion on this frequency of attention is a 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 careless 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 an ordinary feeling. How really?
If we imagine that the maximum attentiveness is ten points, then the attention of the average person floats somewhere in the range from zero to three. Three points – his maximum 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 have 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 awareness. The more attentive you are to the present moment of life, the stronger the surprise.
This 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 just grab attention and make it more intense. This is how different degrees of surprise arises. 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)
- belief 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 begin 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 lethargic you are, you immediately wake up.
At the bodily 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, the first thing I ask is 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 is a signal to the brain that a problem has arisen. If the overexcited organism is physically loaded, the brain will make sure that we are sort of solving the problem and will 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 “highly sensitive people” is gaining popularity. They have thin skin – that is, increased sensitivity to life. 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 highly sensitive 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.
This is how 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 at least sometimes notice: the present moment, your body in space, 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. They can be prescribed by a psychotherapist or psychiatrist. Sometimes they are necessary.
Strong 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.