Seeing chronic symptoms through a nervous system lens and 3 of my favourite ways to ‘defrost’ or come out of a freeze response.
If you’ve experienced any type of chronic illness - you’re likely very familiar with what a ‘crash’ is and feels like. A shutting down of the body, big reduction in energy, increased symptoms, overwhelming fear, disconnection etc!
Viewing a crash using a nervous system lens.
But when we start to look at chronic symptoms through a nervous system lens - we can begin to see that actually these are all the signs of the freeze response - one of our most subtle but primitive survival states that occurs when we go beyond our nervous system capacity - being unable to fight or flee (flight).
To me, something about seeing it in this light enables a ‘crash’ to make a lot more sense - and also helps bring compassion and understanding to it. Ultimately it’s your nervous system trying to protect you - and there are ways that we can begin to come out of it.
So next time you’re feeling like you’re in a ‘crash’ - here are three of my favourites ways to navigate defrosting the freeze response…
1) Nature – if accessible to you, find a way to immerse yourself in, or absorb nature. Doing so will allow your nervous system to attune to a more natural rhythm and allow you to orient safely with the environment. You don’t have to ‘do’ anything - just being in it is enough. If you can ground at the same time, all the better! If not accessible - see if you can take notice of your surrounding outside of the window - see where your eyes are drawn to - notice what nature there is.
2) Expectation - often what keeps us in freeze is this overwhelming sense of pressure and expectation. Your body/nervous system is saying ‘we can’t’ and you’re saying ‘we must’. So check in with yourself and ask - how I can release the need to do anything right now? How can I let go of the expectation? How can I allow myself this time to defrost? How can I reduce stimulation?
3) Co-regulate - when we’re in freeze, it often feels like we’re really alone. Deep connection with others can feel difficult and it can really feel like everything is falling apart and no one gets it. It’s hard to self-regulate from freeze though - so seek small moments of co-regulation, whether through pets/animals, reaching out to someone who really get’s in, expressing your needs or sitting somewhere where you can absorb the energy of others (like a cafe or park).
I really hope you found this helpful! I know how difficult and overwhelming being in this place of freeze can be - so if that’s you right now, I’m sending lots of healing, regulation and compassion your way.
Interested in nervous system mapping for regulation?
In the nervous system reboot, we explore each of the nervous system states in detail (including fight, flight, freeze & fawn), how each feels to you in your body, what your triggers are and how to create your unique and compassionate toolkit that takes you on the path back to regulation. It’s a lot of fun too when you realise it doesn’t all have to feel like ‘work’. All info and sign up here for self study here - I’d love to welcome you!
Have a wonderful week everyone.