Huge Efforts, Little Progress, MAJOR Frustration!
I frequently encounter people who, despite having made HUGE efforts to heal from conditions like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, chronic Lyme and Company, Mold Illness, Fibromyalgia, etc., continue to be stuck in a vicious stress-pain-illness cycle.
They’ve made significant lifestyle shifts, adopted a clean, healing diet, have run numerous labs, and worked through various healing protocols. They've addressed factors such as gut dysbiosis, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, chronic intracellular infections, toxic overload, and the list goes on -- yet the needle barely moves.
In addition, a subset of this population is hyper-sensitive, responding poorly to most treatments, if not all, that they try to implement. Because of their sensitivity, they are unable to do much to address the factors listed above, from a biochemical perspective.
Their conditions tenaciously linger on and it’s frustrating and discouraging for all involved. It is common for sufferers of these conditions to succumb to depression, hopelessness, and despair -- which then fuels the dis-ease process even more.
I was part of this population and so I am speaking from personal experience on this topic.
What's the Missing Piece?
My journey has taught me that unraveling chronic health issues and returning to a state of vibrant physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing requires looking beyond "mainstream," biochemical-based approaches to healing.
Please understand, I'm NOT saying that dietary changes, running labs, taking supplements, and other biochemical-based healing protocols aren't necessary. These interventions are needed, of course, but they do not adequately provide everything that the body, mind, and spirit need in order to heal.
I learned the hard way that the very best biochemical interventions that money can buy are of limited use -- unless the nervous system feels safe more often than it doesn't.
To understand this better, it is necessary to understand two terms: Limbic Kindling and Low Ventral Vagal Tone.
What the Heck are Limbic Kindling and Low Ventral Vagal Tone?
How do these two factors keep people sick with invisible illnesses such as chronic Lyme, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and more?
Here is a simplified explanation of these complex concepts.
Limbic Kindling is when the stress centers of the brain become stuck in “on” mode, leading to hypersensitivity.
Many things can cause this to happen, but the three most common causes are chronic, psychological distress, unresolved trauma, and constant overstimulation of the nervous system.
Overstimulation of the nervous system can be caused by factors such as: a hectic lifestyle with inadequate downtime, chronic surges of stress hormones without proper recovery, regular exposure to EMF's (electromagnetic magnetic frequencies), and overexposure to blue light coming from technology.
When the body has become hypersensitive, the nervous system perceives most, if not all, environmental inputs as threats to survival -- and, this often happens on a subconscious level.
Environmental inputs are factors such as foods, everyday toxins that everyone is exposed to, experiences that trigger a traumatic memory of some kind, odors, supplements, and more.
In this chain reaction scenario, the stress centers of the nervous system respond to everything as if it were a threat, whether it is or not. The brain then sends stress signals to the body, which trigger the release of stress hormones and pro-inflammatory immune cells to defend against the “perceived” threat.
Defense Mode Becomes the Norm!
This continual state of feeling threatened also triggers something known as Cell Danger Response, which causes cells to shift from energy-producing mode into defense mode.
In defense mode, all regenerative and health-supporting functions such as digestion, detoxification, immune balancing, and hormone production slow way down or come to a grinding halt.
Cell Danger Response causes one to feel fatigued, sick, and achy and can often prevent all biochemical based healing supports such as supplements, pathogen protocols, diet changes, etc. from being effective. Read more about CDR in last week's blog post, The Chronic Dis-ease and Cell Danger Response Connection -- And What You Can Do About It!
The Next Step in This Process Is Low Ventral Vagal Tone!
There are three main branches of the nervous system: Ventral Vagal Branch (rest, digest, and social engagement), Dorsal Vagal Branch (freeze mode), and the Sympathetic Spinal Branch (fight or flight mode)
A healthy, functioning nervous system can move fluidly between all three branches, depending on encountered stressors, but will always return to and spend the majority of time in the Ventral Vagal Branch.
With Low Ventral Vagal tone, a person loses the ability to adapt to stressors appropriately, and the Dorsal and Sympathetic branches become dominant.
The result of this is often chronic depression, anxiety, a slew of other health issues, and an inability to recover from chronic health challenges despite HUGE efforts.
In both scenarios of Limbic Kindling and Low Ventral Vagal Tone, cells will not function properly, and the body cannot find its way back to a state of balance without rebooting and rewiring the brain and nervous system -- regardless of the BEST supplement protocols and other biochemical-based health hacks that money can buy!
So, What Can You Do? Where Does One Start to Rewire the Nervous System for Wellness?
To begin with, it is essential to understand that rewiring the mind and nervous system for wellness is an evolving process that requires acceptance, active participation, intention, commitment, and consistency.
It is also an extremely bio-individual journey of self-exploration and transformation. While there are common themes that apply to all, the efficacy of strategies and techniques will vary from person to person.
That said, here are six initial steps and strategies to get you started:
#1: Accept, Acknowledge, and Embrace! No matter what somebody's circumstances are, the first step towards healing and transformative shifts is to accept, acknowledge, and embrace important truths around what creates illness.
In our culture, we've been programmed to believe that illness is primarily, if not solely, a result of biochemical and physiological pathology.
Because of this, it is tough, if not impossible, for most people to wrap their analytical minds around these two critical notions:
The first is that we are energetic beings on a physical journey here on earth, not the other way around. Chronic dis-ease most often begins in the energetic realm before it manifests in the physical realm.
The second is that nervous system maladaptation and hypersensitive responses to environmental input, most often set in motion by trauma and overstimulation, can and will trigger symptoms, illness, and dis-ease.
I've come to believe that the moment people accept and embrace these truths, and take measures to begin addressing them, is the moment they open themselves up to true healing.
#2: Stop Giving Energy to Illness! On the chronic illness journey, it is common for most people -- if not everyone -- to habitually discuss and focus on physical symptoms and the ripple effect of those symptoms in their lives.
This often takes the form of excessive internet researching, participation in Facebook forums that overly focus on the negative aspects of chronic illness, and making hardship talk a regular focal point of everyday conversation.
Of course, talking things out is an important part of healing, but there is a BIG difference between productive, healing, and action-orientated talk and giving excessive energy to illness.
Over-focusing on the doom and gloom of our experiences, continually talking about how horrible we feel, and over analyzing physical symptoms carves deep neurological grooves in our nervous system that "wire" us for continued illness and other life challenges.
Rewiring the nervous system for wellness requires a commitment to stop reading from the "scripts" that fuel chronic illness and remove oneself from situations that enforce such scripts. It requires that we look inward at our emotional terrain and engage in practices that promote wellness.
#3: Interrupt Habitual, Destructive Thought Patterns! Worrisome, anxious, and fear-based mind stories are common when dealing with chronic health challenges and the resulting life stress.
I vividly recall engaging in thoughts such as "Oh my GOD! I've tried everything to get well yet, here I am still sick! There is clearly no hope for me. I must be broken or flawed in some way. I may as well give up and resign to a life of disability."
The more I would entertain mind stories like this one, the sicker and more dysfunctional I would become, and the more my nervous system would entrain to this story.
When you find yourself engaging in destructive thought patterns of any kind, it is IMPERATIVE to your healing and success to interrupt them somehow.
A great and simple way to do this is to go on a Gratitude Rampage! Instead of allowing the negative thought to take over, firmly say "NO!" to your stress centers and instead start listing out 10-20 things that you are grateful for; no matter how small.
This works because the mind cannot hold both a fear-based and joy-based thought at the same time, and each time you interrupt a destructive "script" and read from a new one, you are pruning back health-blocking neural networks and creating new, health-promoting ones.
#4: Shake It Out! Because we are energetic beings, the energy of traumatic experiences and painful emotional states can get trapped in our bodies. This is especially true for empaths who tend to absorb the energy of others. Trapped, negative energy creates interferences within our bio-field, which eventually leads to biochemical and physiological imbalances.
Animals instinctively know this, which is why they tremble and shake when they are frightened or threatened. By trembling, they are helping their nervous systems to get rid of excess stress hormones and shed negative energy.
Humans, on the other hand, tend to resist trembling and hold the energy inside; where it gets stored deep within the musculature, organs, and nervous system. I find this to be especially true amongst chronic illness sufferers.
With this negative energy trapped inside the body, the nervous system does not feel safe and so it will trigger danger signals throughout the body.
To prevent this from happening and support your healing, take frequent breaks throughout your day to shake your entire body vigorously for 1-2 minutes and always after an experience where you feel triggered.
#5: Pay Attention to Your Breathing! When the nervous system is wired for stress and one is caught in a chronic Cell Danger Response cycle, holding one’s breath and/or shallow chest breathing become common practice. It surely did for me.
This type of breathing adds more fuel to the viscous stress-pain-illness cycle by depriving the cells of the necessary oxygen they need to function optimally.
In light of this, make a point to check in with your breathing regularly and practice deep, rhythmic diaphragmatic breathing as often as you can!
Your cells and nervous system will thank you!
#6: Visualize Yourself Well and Living the Life Of Your Dreams Everyday! Negative thoughts and images stick to the stress centers of our brains like Velcro. Because of this, It is SO comfortable and familiar for most of us, myself included, to engage with negative thoughts and then visualize them playing out.
Each time we do this, however, we are reinforcing those neural networks and sending strong stress signals to our cells and nervous system that says “I’m in danger! Call in the troops!” This, of course, keeps them locked in defense mode and lowers our vibration.
As difficult as it may be to envision yourself well and your life working out in your favor at when you first begin, it’s SOOOOO important to make doing so part of your daily habits, if only for 1 minute a day to start.
With consistency, this practice will become more comfortable and enjoyable. It's a powerful way to assist your mind and nervous system with the task of deleting old, dysfunctional stories with writing more nourishing, self-empowering ones.
So, that's a wrap for this article! I am confident that by implementing these 5 introductory strategies into your daily routine and sticking with them, you will begin to see positive shifts in both your health and your life!
I’m extremely passionate about this area of healing, and so it has become a huge focal point of my work with clients. I recently created a new, introductory service offer called Jumpstart Your Healing Plan that enables prospective clients to take me and my services for a test drive before committing to anything larger.
If you’re interested in one-on-one, custom-tailored guidance on your healing journey and receiving personalized action steps towards helping you rewire your nervous system for wellness and restoring your health, I invite you to learn more about this intro offer by clicking on the button below.