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Nervous System Support

In modern-day western society, we are inundated with stressors. We are so stressed that we don’t even recognise it as stress anymore, we just see it as our ‘normal’. This chronic stress wreaks havoc on our immune system, nervous system, adrenal glands, and digestive function. Chronic stress is the silent killer and in fact, it is so insidious that we may not even realise it is the cause or major contributor to our presenting health condition or disease. Knowing that stress is hindering your healing ability is well and good but what do you do about it? When it is so intertwined with our lifestyle and day-to-day reality then how do we begin to untangle it from our life and give our bodies the support it needs to heal? It is unrealistic to assume that we can simply avoid all stressors, while minimisation and shifting your life so you can achieve more balance in should be the long-term goal, there are many things you can do right now to help give your nervous system and adrenals the support it needs to increase your resilience improve your overall wellbeing.


Sleep Even though most of us know how important sleep is, it still tends to become neglected. 8 hours of good quality sleep is imperative for a strong and resilient nervous system and adrenals. Some ways you can improve your sleep quality are

  1. Adopt a good sleep hygiene practice where you are avoiding stimulation or blue light (computer, phone or television) for 2 hours before you go to sleep.

  2. Try to go to sleep and wake up every night around the same time.

  3. Avoid caffeinated beverages including black or green tea after noon.

  4. Avoid drinking large quantities of water 1 hour before you go to bed, this will prevent you from needing to urinate in the night

  5. Consider doing a relaxing 10-minute meditation, or read a relaxing book by low light just before you go to bed.

  6. Turn WiFi off while you sleep.’

  7. Try to be more physically active in the day to ensure releasing stress and tiring your body out.


Sunlight & Nature We all know how important nature is and how much better we feel when we are in nature and yet it is estimated that the average American spends 93% of their life indoors. Even just 20 minutes outside in nature reduces cortisol by 50% for up to 21 hours. Try to get outside on your lunch break or go for a morning or afternoon walk. On weekends try to get out in nature by going for a bushwalk or beach walk. Go barefoot where and when you can. Even just taking a few minutes to stand barefoot on the wet grass in the morning can have surprising benefits. Sunlight is also incredibly important for our mood and nervous system as it helps us to synthesise Vitamin D, an important vitamin for our mood and immune system.

Protein Consuming high-quality proteins such as wild-caught oily fish, organic meat, eggs tempeh, legumes, and quinoa can help to stabilise your blood sugar as well as provide the essential amino acids needed to make our neurotransmitters. Making a bone broth using the bones from the meat can be a great source of collagen and minerals to help nourish your adrenals and nervous system. Essential Fatty Acids Fish, specific algae such as spirulina, flaxseed oil, hemp seeds/ oil are all great sources of Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Essential Fatty acids are imperative for brain and nerve tissue development. They also ensure the adrenals and thyroid are working properly and making hormones. Meditation & Yoga Meditation and yoga are incredible ways to rewire the brain and retrain the stress response. Both practices have been shown to dramatically reduce stress and improve our parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). There are many good online yoga classes and apps for meditation such as Calm, Headspace or Insight Timer. Magnesium Magnesium is an incredibly vital mineral involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Magnesium is a key component in modulating the stress response through its involvement in the Hypopituitary adrenal axis (HPAA) as well as reducing muscular tensions. Unfortunately, our food is often devoid of this important mineral so supplementation is usually necessary. The best way to get magnesium is through the skin. Soaking your feet or body in a magnesium bath is an excellent way to increase your magnesium levels while also simultaneously relaxing your body. Try adding essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, vetiver, cedarwood, or ylang ylang to enhance the relaxation response. Vitamin B & C The B Vitamins, specifically B5, B6 and B3, as well as Vitamin C are critical nutrients for our adrenal glands and are required for steroid hormone syntheses such as Adrenalin, noradrenaline and cortisol. Chronic stress depletes the body of these important vitamins. Eating a colourful diet full of seasonal fruit and vegetables can help to restore these vitamins but supplementation in the short-term may be necessary. Herbs Herbs play a vital role in improving our stress response and resilience. It is best to speak to a herbalist or naturopath about which herbs are right for you. Some of the more notable herbs for adrenal and nervous system support include Withania, chamomile, tulsi, Rhodiola, oats, passionflower, lavender, lemon balm, licorice, Siberian ginseng, and skullcap. As important as it is ​to do a​ ll the things that nourish our nervous system it is as important to n​ot do certain things that wreak havoc on our adrenals. These include:

Sugar, refined and processed foods Besides being devoid of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals, junk food can cause blood sugar spikes which increases the workload of the adrenals putting unnecessary stress on the body and can lead to impaired function over time. Caffeine Caffeine stimulates your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) which in turn increases your cortisol levels. This can be useful when you have plenty of cortisol to spare but what most of us do when we consume caffeine is essentially deficit spending. You are withdrawing money (cortisol) from an empty bank account (adrenals). The long-term effect of this can lead to adrenal exhaustion, chronic fatigue or burn out. If you are someone who ‘needs’ a coffee it might be useful to reassess your relationship and dependency with caffeine. Alcohol Alcohol depletes our body of minerals and vitamins needed by the nervous system and adrenals particularly the B vitamins and zinc. If you are tired, burnt out, anxious or depleted, alcohol is not going to be doing you any favours and it is best to remove it from your life. If you are using alcohol as a coping mechanism for work or life stress try substituting it with a magnesium bath, a yoga class, a meditation, or a large pot of chamomile tea instead. If you are struggling with stress, fatigue, anxiety, sleep disturbances or depression it is best to seek professional help and consult your naturopath or health care practitioner to receive advice based on your individual needs and situation.

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