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The Self-care series: Part 3 - Anniversary Edition

Hello Stranger,

I hope you are good and life is treating you well.

Over the moon to announce that Lost inside my head has now over 7,000 readers!!!!

Thank you so much for everything, I really couldn’t do this without all of you!

I know I said I will try to post every two weeks, but this time will be an exception.

This is a long article, and I will talk about the nervous system, but also celebrate 2 years of Lost inside my head! I just read again the first article I posted on 24.04.2020 (you can read it as well if you want, you just have to scroll to the bottom of my blog and see an article called ‘Fresh start’), things have really changed! I have changed! The most important part is that I made a promise to myself to change my life, and no matter what, I am respecting that promise!

My life has really not been easy, whenever I thought things can’t get worse, they actually did, and I think I hit different levels of rock bottom.

I choose to see the good part in everything now, despite all the pain, I am thriving.

I am stronger than ever, I like to believe that I mostly recovered from PTSD, it’s been a long and difficult process because reconnecting with yourself is probably one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do, and I have also been in therapy for almost a year now, I have one session left and then I am done. I've started seeing major improvements in October, however, I decided to keep going and try to work on several issues, and just improve my relationship with myself and those around me.

Remember what I always say, healing is not a linear process. There will be days when you feel like you aren’t making progress, and days when you just feel like the pain is gone.

The commitment to improving your well-being, physical, mental, and emotional is the best and most rewarding investment. You are the most important and constant person in your life, I hope you never feel selfish for acknowledging this. Nobody teaches us how to love ourselves, and then we grow up and wonder why we keep feeling empty. We go through life without actually being present, because we are so preoccupied with how we look, how others see us, our reputation, our finances, other people, yet never ourselves and how we feel.

Do you think that’s how life should be lived? In my opinion, no.

I have made so many mistakes because I didn’t know how to put myself first. I didn’t have the courage to talk about my needs, my wishes, and my dreams. Don't get me wrong, I still make lots of mistakes, however, I am trying to make sure that I also learn from past experiences.

I was so used to other people telling me to keep silent, that I had started doing it myself.

Whenever something was bothering me because it was breaking my non-existent boundaries at the time, I said nothing. I smiled and just let my head down. I put up with incredibly crappy behaviour, not just in my work life, but also in my personal one.

I kept giving my energy to those around me until I was depleted. Guess what happened next, I felt like I was fading away.

I remember leaving the house and not being able to see any vivid colours, nothing physically wrong with my eyes, however, I couldn’t see life in colours anymore.

Everything was just in shades of grey…

I used to sit still and silent for hours, isolating myself, feeling completely numb. I don’t have many memories from those days, I just remember feeling that void and darkness around me.

For a very long time, I couldn’t even cry.

I avoided taking any pictures and I deleted most of the pictures from that time, I regret doing it.

I regret allowing others to rule my life and letting them make me feel like I am not good enough. The truth is that I have always been and will always be good enough.

Reading my old article really showed me that you can make your life better, and I’ve come a long way.

I want to thank you for constantly supporting me, reading my thoughts and being here.

I used to talk to lots of people on this blog, reading all your beautiful and kind messages, and I wouldn’t be where I am now without all of you. My friends at the time refused to even read my articles because they are long and ‘deep’, yet strangers from all over the world appreciated me, that’s what kept me going. I was honestly terrified of sharing my thoughts, especially like this.

We all know that the internet isn’t always a kind place, I expected to get hateful messages as well. However, never have I ever received such messages. So many of you told me that I am a great writer, and one day I should write a book, and I can explain everything so easily, and you can relate to what I write because I try my best to be transparent about my life.

So many of you told me how my articles helped you, when you needed it the most.

That is proof that I am doing something right.

Thank you so much! Thanks to you, I can no longer see my life without writing. It brings me so much happiness and peace to write, even if sometimes I have to talk about difficult and painful things.

It’s such a beautiful feeling to be appreciated for who I truly am. I know that I can be myself here, it’s my safe space, and yours too. All of you made this possible, and I couldn’t have asked for a better community. I am sorry that I took a really long break from writing last year, yet you didn’t forget me. You’ve been here with me through ups and downs, always reminding me that this blog is my legacy.

I miss talking to all of you, I promise that soon things will be different and messages will be available.

I found my best friends thanks to this blog, and these are the most meaningful and genuine friendships I have ever had.

I cannot name all the countries that my readers are from, but let me tell you, I have reached most of the countries and all the continents. That's breathtaking! Thank youuuuu!

Now, let’s talk about the nervous system! Please remember that everything I know is merely my personal research, I will try to explain everything as good as I can while making sure that the article won’t be extremely long.

All of us heard of it, but do we all really know what it is and what it does?

The nervous system is responsible for pretty much everything you do, feel, or say. It plays an essential role in things your body can do without thinking, such as breathing, blinking, and blushing, as well as more complicated processes such as memory, thought and movement.

It actually affects everything, sleep, healing, your feelings, your heartbeat, how your brain interprets what you see, touch, feel, smell…

I will try to keep this light because the amount of information about this that you can find is pretty overwhelming.

The main parts of the nervous system are:

  • The central nervous system (CNS) is made up of your brain and spinal cord. Your brain will send messages to the rest of your body using your nerves.

  • The Peripheral nervous system(PNS) is responsible for relaying information from your central nervous system all over your body. The PNS is divided into two parts:

  • The somatic nervous system guides your voluntary movements, and the autonomic nervous system is responsible for regulating involuntary body functions, such as heartbeat, blood flow, breathing, and digestion.

Furthermore, the autonomic nervous system is divided into two branches:

Parasympathetic system and Sympathetic system.

In today’s article, I will try to focus more on the autonomic nervous system.

The parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) is a slower system and it controls the activity of the cardiac and smooth muscles and glands.

Its general functions are to control homeostasis and the body’s rest-and-digest response.

It decreases heart rate, relaxes the muscles, restores the body to a state of calm, pupils constrict and many other things.

The sympathetic nervous system is a faster system and it prepares the body to expand energy and respond to environmental threats. When your body perceives a threat, activities that are not essential for survival are shut down. Muscles contract, the heart rate and contractions increase, pupils dilate, glycogen converts to glucose for muscle energy as your body speeds up and becomes more alert, and adrenaline and cortisol are released.

The sympathetic nervous system mobilises the body’s fight-or-flight response.

Once the perceived danger is gone, the PSNS takes over to counterbalance the effects of the sympathetic nervous system’s responses.

However, your body can be stuck in the fight-or-flight mode due to trauma and/or chronic stress, and that means that your nervous system is dysregulated.

What is chronic stress? It is a prolonged and constant feeling of stress that can have serious effects on your health if it’s not treated. It can be caused by daily pressure from family, work or by traumatic situations. Types of chronic stress: emotional stress (sadness, frustration, anger), relationship stress (how you relate to family, partner(s), friends, coworkers), environmental stress (where you live and work), and work stress (high pressure and demanding jobs).

Unfortunately, it might be a combination of stressors, which makes it difficult to identify the exact cause. You know how it goes, one thing affects another, therefore, more parts of your life will be affected.

It happens when the body experiences high frequency or intensity stressors and the parasympathetic nervous system does not have an adequate chance to activate the relaxation response regularly.

The human body is built to handle acute stress, which is short-lived, not chronic stress.

It affects both the mind and body and the psychological and physical symptoms can affect a person’s daily life and their ability to function normally. Everyone experiences chronic stress differently, however, the most common symptoms are: headaches, irritability, muscle tension, upset stomach, aches and pains, trouble concentrating and disorganised thinking, anxiety, fatigue, decreased energy, and difficulty sleeping. Do you experience any of these symptoms or a combination of them regularly? Then you might be experiencing chronic stress.

I am deeply sorry if you grew accustomed to feeling like this that it began to feel like it’s normal…

Since chronic stress is so prolonged, it can have a harmful impact on your well-being causing depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, weight changes (acute stress seems to favour weight loss while chronic stress seems to favour weight gain), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcers, heart disease, eczema, acne, hyperthyroidism, and low sex drive.

I genuinely tried to write about many things and I hope everyone can understand what I tried to explain. Now let’s focus on what can be done to improve our lives.

Sorry to say but there is no magic remedy for this, and it’s a multitude of things that need to be implemented in your daily life in order to see improvements. Some activities that stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (so we can get out of the fight-or-flight mode) are meditation, yoga, mild exercises, nature walks, deep breathing from your diaphragm, give yourself a massage targeting certain parts of your body separately to decrease tension or simply get a professional massage, talking therapy (please keep in mind that not all therapists are trauma informed, nor do they practice holistic approaches; please do your research as there are many types of therapy approaches and you need to find the most suitable one for you), spend more time in nature, dance (I cannot emphasise how much this has helped me regulate my nervous system after PTSD), humming, cold showers in the morning (however, gradually switch from warm to cold water and try to focus on deep breathing) and a warm shower before bed, create a sleep routine (try to go to bed earlier, leave your screen and switch to reading, getting enough sleep is very important), eat more whole-foods, decrease caffeine (try switching to matcha), write a to-do list, start saying ‘no’ so you don’t keep overwhelming yourself, journal, practice gratitude, and read.

You do not have to incorporate all these habits into your life, just try finding those that work best for you.

There is an inseparable connection between your nervous system and your gut. The vagus nerve is the modulator of the brain-gut axis. If you have a history of trauma, you are more likely to have a gut disorder. The next article will be about this. It's fascinating learning about so many things.

I just want to remind you that you are not alone, and no matter what, you will get through whatever you are going through.

Your past does not define who you are and it should certainly not define your future.

Things will get better and I am incredibly proud of you!

I am always here if you want to talk.

Virtual hugs!

I really love this band and I find every song catchy, don't forget to dance if you can:

Found this picture a few days ago, and it really touched me, in a way I think this is what I have been doing with my blog...

Credit unknown, source Instagram.

#progress #mentalhealth #healing #trauma #recovery #youarenotalone

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