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Why is it so hard to relax? Relaxing your Nervous System - Part 1

Do you ever try to relax, without any success? Or when you do make time to relax, you don't feel rested afterwards?

Part 1 below - read on to discover WHY, and in Part 2 of this blog series, learn some tips and techniques for what to DO about it!

This is something that used to happen to me, all. the. time!

I would be in overdrive all day … at work, caregiving at home for children, parents, budgeting & bills, housework … thinking, planning, anticipating, worrying, all the things to try to keep the various plates spinning. I had a senior leadership career, a daughter at home, a partner, aging parents, community commitments. Sound familiar?

When I made time to sit and relax, or do something enjoyable, I always felt like it had to have a purpose. I would feel guilty about taking the time, so I would try to relax by reading something for work, or sit on my phone and research the next vacation … maybe useful things to do, but they kept my mind running

If I did some form of self care – go for a massage, take a walk, my mind would keep spinning with the thoughts.

I felt like I was FAILING AT RELAXING!!

Neuroscience tells us that the stress demands of our daily life can keep us in a state of hypervigilance, when we are scanning for danger and staying alert – so our body is ready to “fight or flight” at any moment. And because we stay in a constant loop of stress during the day, we don’t have a way to resolve the stressful situation and release the stress (like we did running from a predator circa our early ancestors). So we stay in the stress and don’t actually relax.

The epiphany for me came when I realized this big truth …

We can’t truly relax when our nervous system is activated.

Even though I thought I was relaxing, my nervous system was still activated. And for many of us, especially if we have anxious tendencies (or are experiencing burnout), this can often be the case. This means that our brain is on high alert – scanning for the next threat (i.e. the next thing we have to do, the next problem to solve, the next request or demand).

When this happens it's hard for us to shut our brains down, stop the overthinking, and allow our mind to be in a regulated state to really relax and rejuvenate.

Does this resonate with your experience? The good news is that we have the ability to build resilience into our nervous system. Meaning, that we can practice and train our bodies to move out of stress into relaxation more often by activating the calming parts of our nervous system. And so much more!

Check out Part 2 of this series to find out what to do to help calm down your nervous system when you want to relax!

And - in my monthly workshops, we talk about and practice a huge range of tools and techniques. Together each month, we work through a process of connecting with and gaining mastery over our nervous system and internal states using both the nervous system and subconscious mind. There is a new and exciting topic each month!

If you're not in Winnipeg, but are still interested, you can register for my online workshops through Everybody in Mind Wellness Centre at:

In the meantime, you may be interested in this video that shows how our nervous system gets & stays activated:

**Please note that this blog post is not a substitute for medical advice or information. If you have questions or concerns about your physical or mental health, please connect with a medical or mental health professional. If you have a history of trauma and these exercises feel unpleasant or difficult, I would encourage you to reach out to a qualified professional for support as you explore your nervous system.

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