If you have decided to help your nervous system heal from dysregulation by purchasing one of the various programs,  hiring a coach to help you one on one, or attempting to put  different practices together on your own, I offer you a few tips that can benefit you during your journey.

1. Go at your own pace.

Many of the retraining programs out now are structured in a one size fits all method. For example, DNRS expects a commitment of at least one hour a day right from the start, including 20 minute “rounds”.  Many people find this difficult in a compromised state such as illness (physically and/or emotionally). Also, I have seen in others and experienced a worsening of symptoms when beginning and engaging quickly with the practices. In my opinion, this is because the body has been pushed past tolerance.  Learning something new is “stressful” so redirecting to positive and changing patterns for health can cause a sudden increase in the fight, flight or freeze response.

So, rather than exacerbate symptoms it is perfectly ok to go at your own pace and also add other soothing practices that may be lacking in a program you choose. Your body is sending you a message when symptoms ramp up, learn to listen to it.  I am a believer in somatic experiencing as a practitioner and observer. Adding in somatic tracking and/or hiring a practitioner here to see what your body is asking and to guide you to be with the sensations can be very beneficial. However, if you are going ahead on your own, learn to titrate the practices you have chosen to help your nervous system.  If you did 20 minutes of practice one day and saw an increase in symptoms, go back down to an edge that you still feel challenged but not as much. The goal is not to stay in your comfort zone, but to learn how much your body can handle and stay within a “training zone.”

For some who are in a freeze state, asking them to immediately begin to do an hour of positive visualizations may not be possible. The emotions are not yet accessible and the energy may not be there to “perform” especially for those bedridden.  Think about what you can do today, rather than what you could not do that the program was asking. Can you wiggle your fingers and feel them? What do they feel like? Can you wiggle your toes? What do they feel like? Can you feel the energy in them? What is that like? Can you find something in your room that catches your attention like a beautiful painting, flowers, soft blanket? What is that like when you focus on it?  Where do you feel that sensation in your body? Can you describe it?  Can you look at photos of positive past memories and describe the sensations you feel?

Building on practices such as these to help the body ease into retraining can be very helpful.

2. Don’t be afraid to mix practices and adapt for yourself.

Throughout this blog, I have written about different practices to use to help stabilize a dysregulated nervous system, such as somatic experiencing , brain retraining practices that helped me, HEAL by Rick Hanson, and also programs like DNRS. I have also used vagus nerve exercises and TRE. It is ok to take a bit from each modality and adapt it for yourself. It is ok to mix a few practices together. The goal is to find something that works for you and it may not be just one way. Most of us who have been in the “retraining” community for some time have realized that there is more than enough room in ou toolbox to add various strategies.  However, I am not saying that all of these are needed, always refer back to number one when in doubt. Go at the pace your body is ok with each day.

3. Get a journal and track shifts noticed.

The most important part of retraining is awareness. In order to change, awareness is key. Having a journal can help provide this clarity and keep track of any realizations that may be discarded.  Tracking triggers,  how the body responds, what sensations are felt both before and after a practice can produce more clarity and hope. Tracking any shifts noticed could be a simple list. It not only helps keep motivation to continue the process, but also to build self confidence and hope by seeing what is going right. Often, in the process of change the small shifts may be easily forgotten, but writing about them gives them greater attention.

In a journal I would write about the following (these are just suggestions, please write what you feel is beneficial):

  1. Triggers that increase symptoms
  2. Ideas about where these triggers began and why
  3. Plan when the trigger occurs
  4. Any glimmers throughout the day (positives)
  5. How your body feels before a practice (tracking any sensations)
  6. How your body feels after a practice (tracking any shifts)
  7. What you would like your future to look like
  8. If you are doing incremental training,(exposure to a trigger),  writing about how it looks and feels  when successful
  9. Anchors you have in your life (positive resources that help you ground)
  10. Things you are grateful for
  11. Again, even when attempting the journal, please refer to number 1