Healing Through Rest: Creating Balance for Your Nervous System

healing through rest: creating balance for your nervous system

Have you ever struggled to truly feel rested no matter how much sleep or downtime you get? If so, this episode is for you.

There’s a lot of messaging encouraging us to rest and be soft. But what should we do if we’re trying to take it easy, but still don’t feel rested? What even is rest? I’m closing out our Modalities of Healing series with a solo episode about how we can heal through rest, and what our minds and bodies need to feel rested (in addition to adequate sleep).

With so much happening in the world, it can be natural to have a “tired but wired” feeling when we’re constantly on alert. This episode explores what rest is on a physiological level, and shares techniques we can use to start feeling more rested to support our healing.

LISTEN HERE: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Play

Episode 143 Topics:

  • Your “fight or flight” and “rest and digest” systems, and how they work together.
  • Habits and techniques to help you feel more rested.
  • How to create better mind-body synergy.
  • Defining what it means to be “soft” for yourself.
  • The importance of taking a break.

Episode 143 Resources:


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The show has changed and evolved a lot but I am grateful to have you here.

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Sofia past six weeks we've been in our modalities of healing see areas where we've explored what it means to heal from the inside out with curiosity.

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And openness and today I'm wrapping up the series and bringing us home talking about the importance of rest and our healing Journey.

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Before we get into that I want to thank everyone who joined us for the solstice journaling challenge last week I hope you came out of the challenge feeling refreshed renewed and realigned

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for the second half of the year.

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But my biggest takeaway was from The Challenge as I was going through the prompts myself was realizing that it's never too late to start fresh it's never too late to Pivot

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reframe reset or start a new and whether that is January 1st whether that's July 1st whatever day of the week it is whatever month it is

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every decision is an opportunity to start over every new day every new breath we don't have to wait for the new year we don't have to wait for our birthday.

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It can be so attempting to feel like when we embarked down a path that we have to stay straight and narrow on the path we started on when really life is about the twists and the turns and the Fresh Starts and for many of us our self care.

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Practices specifically journaling are key for helping us re-center and start fresh each day.

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With that in mind I'm really excited to share the first balanced black girl creation which is the reset Journal.

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So the reset Journal it's a daily guided Journal that I created based on my own personal Journal practice

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it's currently in beta with a downloadable PDF that you can purchase to print or you can use it electronically on your iPad if you're one of you know you were one of the people got your lives together with iPad

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trying to be like you but it's a real Soul offering from me to you.

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So the research Journal is part Journal part planner and it's so easy and intuitive to use so each day has a two-page spread with the first page being your daily download so that's where you write down what you're grateful for how you want to feel

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what you're affirming and your top priorities or task for that day and the second page has a guided Journal prompt with

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plenty of space to free write and flow so that you can start anew each day and you can really reset each time you come to your Journal.

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It's what I've dreamt up and what I've been scribbling in my own journal for ages it's a journal I've always wanted to have and it's really helped me get unstuck in so many ways and I know that it will do the same for you

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so if you want to check out the reset Journal you can head to the show notes so you can visit

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balanced black girl.com / journal to check it out okay so as we wrap up our healing series I'm going to talk about the significance of healing through rest

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There's no shortage of content and memes and messaging out there telling us specifically as black women to rest.

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And I'm here for it I love it I don't think we can be told to rest enough or too much so keep it coming sometimes.

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I'll see a poster I'll see something out there that's just like hey you rest and when I see that I'm like okay.

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Bet I would like to but my plates full and that feels really hard or I'm trying.

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I'm quote-unquote resting but I still don't feel rested or I try but I have all of these responsibilities so now what now I almost feel bad for not being as rested as I think I should be

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so with that in mind I really wanted to examine rest on a tangible level

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how it supports our healing what's happening in our bodies when we don't feel rested and what we can do to get there.

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So first of all what even is rest is asleep is it vacation is it time off.

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Is it Leisure like what is it

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so this Series has been all about curiosity asking questions in examination and so with that in mind I really wanted to see what

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the science had to say about rest what literally is rest and what does it mean for our minds and bodies to be rested.

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Right or why can we maybe be getting decent sleep or have down time here and they're getting in time for ourselves but still not feel rested.

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That kind of that tired but wired like why does that happen so that's what I really want to explore in this episode today.

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So from a physiological standpoint rest involves our autonomic nervous system

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and this consists of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems

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so these systems oversee many of our bodies functional processes breathing our metabolism our heart rate

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digestion which shout-out to the gut health episode we recently did with dr. Asia if you haven't listened to that episode yet definitely recommend checking it out after this one because I think it will help a lot of things and I'm going to share today make more sense.

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Our sympathetic nervous system controls our fight or flight response so it is in charge of

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beast mode survival mode and when the sympathetic nervous system kicks in that's what we can experience challenges

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the digestion that's when our heart rate increases that's when we can get a rush of adrenaline and feel those physical symptoms of stress because basically

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our bodies sense that there is some sort of danger and our bodies are preparing to literally fight or flight.

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It's a survival mechanism when we feel a Potential Threat and many common stressors that we experience can set

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this off physiologically our bodies can't tell the difference between.

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Working on a stressful project or seeing stressful imagery in the news or in the media and being chased by a wild animal like same physiological response and

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for so many of us we experience these stressors constantly constantly so we can constantly feel like we're in a fight or flight state.

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On the other hand we have the parasympathetic nervous system the parasympathetic nervous system is like

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checks and balance of the sympathetic nervous system so it helps our bodies calm down it's what lowers our blood pressure it's what aids in digestion it allows us to come down from being on high alert.

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So the term that's often used to describe the parasympathetic nervous system.

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Is rest and digest so when we don't feel a threat or a sense of danger our bodies are truly able to be at ease use the nutrients that we take in from food

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eliminate waste and really be at homeostasis

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so the more we are able to be in rest and digest mode the better our minds and bodies get at distinguishing daily stressors from True dangers or life-threatening situations.

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Now I don't want to paint the sympathetic nervous system as bad and the parasympathetic nervous system is good because they are equally important and we need both to be imbalance

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we need our sympathetic nervous system to have some get up and go for our own movement and protection and safety

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but we can't be in high alert mode all the time at least from a physiological standpoint we shouldn't be however and our society many of us often are.

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That is what creates this lack of rest and lack of ease

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we also need our parasympathetic nervous system to help bring us back to Baseline to calm us down in between those periods of stress

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we also can't be in 100% show mode all the time right because if something truly does pop off we need that sympathetic nervous system to kick in and help us

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get to gettin right it truly is a balance and

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with this platform we talked about balance actually that's the kind of balance that I'm talking about right.

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A lot of people push back on the term balance and I get it it's because balance can have a lot of different interpretations and definitions

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I'm not talking about being a Fortune 50 executive at work Master Chef at home professional athlete in the gym Vixen in our relationships like that's what a lot of people think of when we say balance that we are expected to do all of those things which is why people talk so bad about it

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I get it I don't like that either that's not what I'm talking about that's not what I mean what I'm talking about balance I mean

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like how balanced are your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system like what does that nervous system do okay that's the balance that we're talking about here so I just wanted to clarify that

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I digress let's get back to our conversation about rest so what many of us have experienced is our sympathetic nervous system being in

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overdrive the stress of trying to survive

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the stress of not having the support we need the stress of all of the bad news that we see day in and day out the stress of everything on our plate

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when it goes unchecked again it's at physiological response of right being chased by a lion or tiger bear like that's the truly what our body

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thanks is happening and it impairs our healing.

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All those forms of healing we've talked about over the past six weeks they're a heck of a lot harder when we are in fight or flight mode.

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All right we need rest and we often think that the work is the work but the rest is also the work

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when we think about flowers they don't bloom all year.

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They do the important necessary work of resting being dormant of being beneath the soil taking in and using those nutrients and then they bloom when it's time to rest

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so with no rest there is no bloom or if we think about our muscles.

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Our muscles don't actually get stronger when we lift weights or when we work out

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lifting weights and working out actually breaks down our muscles it breaks down our fibers and creates little tears in our muscles but when we rest that is when that muscle actually replenishes and is fed.

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That's when the tears are repaired and that's when they go back grow back stronger.

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So muscles don't actually get stronger from the lifting they get stronger from the rest after the lifting so no rest no strength No Rest no gains.

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So I know I don't have to sell you too hard on the importance of rest you're probably like girl I know I need to rest I want more best I'm trying to rest yet I don't feel rested so when we talk about getting the rest we need and healing through rest

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let's bring it back to the parasympathetic nervous system or that rest and digest system.

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Our body is register the healthy function of the parasympathetic nervous system as

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rest when we are conserving energy appropriately our digestion is running smoothly our heart rate is regulated in our resting heart rate doesn't get too high.

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That's what our body registers as rest so on a practical level how do we rest how do we bring our bodies back into balance when we are at a 10 or when we're close to it.

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This is where the vagus nerve system comes in and I know we're getting a little bit sciency today.

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But I actually think that's really important I think it's important to understand how our bodies work

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what is setting signals to our heart to speed up

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what is sending signals to our brain that make us feel stressed and that make us feel the stress we are all given one body and it's really important to understand what's going on with them so we're going to get a little sciency.

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Right but it's fun and I think it's really important that we understand so back to the vagus nerve system your vagus nerve system is.

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The main character of your parasympathetic nervous system so this is a family of nerves of truly runs throughout your body sends communication between your gut and your heart and your brain.

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So when we say we had a gut feeling about something it's actually because of this bodily function its communication that's happening through your vagus nerve.

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And this is how we recover from stress how we recover from periods of danger is the communication that sent throughout our bodies from this nerve.

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It's what helps us self-regulate and it's what sends a signal of relaxation through the body which is Major key for rest and healing.

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So I want to do a little recap of what we've covered so far about what rest days in the body so we've talked about our sympathetic nervous system which amps us up

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prepares us for danger we've talked about the parasympathetic nervous system which helps us calm down and conserve our energy while facilitating important processes in the body such as digestion

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and we've zeroed in on the vagus nerve which has the real main character moment in the parasympathetic nervous system and is critical for how our minds and bodies

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relax and function so in order to get the rest we need and to truly feel rested we need to make sure that our vagus nerve is supported

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when our vagus nerve is supported our parasympathetic nervous system is healthy our parasympathetic nervous system is functioning in a healthy matter then it's able to balance out our sympathetic nervous

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so how do we support the vagus nerve there's actually a very specific self-care practices that we can do to support the vagus nerve and to keep the parasympathetic nervous system healthy.

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And this would be in addition to kind of the those basic things like being fed

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right consuming adequate amounts of nourishment consuming adequate amounts of calories to give our body The energy they need getting adequate amounts of sleep which is going to kind of very bye

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person but you know how you feel when you get enough sleep versus how you feel when you don't and I know there are some life circumstances that make getting enough sleep really hard particularly for the new parents out there maybe if you have a new baby at home it

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is during that season going to be a lot harder to get the sleep you need so I hear you that season doesn't last forever but

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if you are able to get as much sleep as possible those things are like Baseline and then these practices and I'm going to talk about now are going to be kind of above and beyond getting the sleep and nourishment we need to feel rested

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so one of the most powerful ways to support the vagus nerve is through breathwork particularly deep.

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Belly breathing which really helps us regulate the heart rate.

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So all of us can kind of feel stress in different ways but for many people we really feel kind of the physical symptoms of stress I absolutely feel that in my heart rate I

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I can always tell when I'm under stress because I can feel my heart rate Quicken which is a very common

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kind of symptom of stress in a lot of people so when we practice deep belly breathing it can really help us regulate that heart rate bring that resting heart rate back down

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so in order to practice this you would start in a comfortable seated position with one hand on the heart one hand on the belly

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you can inhale deeply through the nose feeling your belly expand as you slowly exhale through the mouth you'll feel your belly come back down you can repeat.

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As many times as possible as many times as necessary until you feel your heart rate.

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Come back down to a healthier level.

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Next your vagus nerve is also related to feelings of empathy so when you're feeling activated it could be a great time to lean into connection.

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No we just had this episode about healing through community and this is really related to

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empathy really related to that vagus nerve so if you're feeling activated who can you connect with and your life in a space where you feel secure and support it if you have that hit them up

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or if that doesn't feel safe or supportive or accessible to you in that moment you can try doing a loving kindness meditation which can have a similar effect loving-kindness meditation through truly designed to help you feel more connected to those around you even if you don't have a specific

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person nearby or who you're talking to you in that moment.

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Really really helps increase those feelings of empathy towards ourselves and one another really supportive of that vagus nerve so I actually have a research backed loving kindness meditation Linked In the show notes that you can try

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and incorporating it into your mindfulness practice could be a really great way to start supporting that vagus nerve to help you feel more calm and rested.

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Speaking of meditation meditation even if you aren't doing a loving kindness meditation is really supportive of your parasympathetic nervous system and its ability to reduce those feelings of fight or flight.

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So what being able to get that heart rate down to connect with your breath and to try and let

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your thoughts or the stressors exist without fixation is really really important and meditation is a great way to do that I've talked about how much I enjoy the open a

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open has sponsored the podcast before although this that I'm mentioning right now it's not an ad they are not sponsoring today but those meditations and the breathwork exercises in that app have been incredibly helpful for me so I'll leave our Link in the show notes that you can try the app for free if you need some support

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with your guided meditations.

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The next way that you can support your vagus nerve and parasympathetic nervous system is through exposure to cold right

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like bird is cold in here as the East Compton clovers famously cheered.

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Before their cheer was taken and gentrified exposure to cold stimulates what's known as the diving reflex and activates the vagus nerve now listen this is not medical advice.

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I'm not telling you to go Iceberg jumping or anything ridiculous it's going to give you.

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They're Mia I'm just saying that when you're feeling charged up exposure to a little bit of cold safely

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can be something that can help you feel more calm so that could be splashing cold water on your face Maybe using kind of an ice cube

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or a nice roller on your face or maybe around your neck I actually have that ice roller the same one that everybody has from Amazon that I love I can link it in the show notes because it's really helpful for helping me calm down I like to rub it

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on my face when I get stressed also a great way to kind of wake up in the morning so I'll link that in the show notes or even taking a cold shower at the

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end of the shower kind of turning the water too cold it just being kind of immersed in that cold water for maybe 10 to 30 seconds it's a really

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easy way to be exposed to cold safely that can really help bring the heart rate down if it's too high and help us feel more calm and shift into more of a parasympathetic state.

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And next is Yoga so I've talked about yoga

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why I believe we should all be doing yoga in some form on the podcast before actually did an episode specifically about yoga earlier this year that I will link in the show notes

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I was reading a study that found that yoga based practices can support the parasympathetic nervous system through both the breathing and movement through

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postures I'll link that study in the show notes if you want to check it out but basically the movement the flow of connecting movement through breath can be very supporting of the parasympathetic nervous system so it's definitely worth

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checking out if you have not dabbled into yoga or if maybe you've had a yoga practice that has fallen by the wayside.

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Could be a great time to pick it back up and do a few simple poses connected with the breath to help support your parasympathetic nervous system.

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Even if yoga is in your jam research has really found that movement in general can help support the vagus nerve so whether that is Yoga lifting weights Pilates walking

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moving your body in ways that feel good and nourishing and not depleting can be incredibly helpful.

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So the last practice we'll talk about to support your vagus nerve and to help you feel more calm and restored is using

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your voice so shout out to the first episode of this series I believe it was episode 139 about sound healing with Ashley Curtis definitely listen to that episode if you haven't already

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we really dive into this but humming

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singing or listening to audio of a calming Voice or relaxing music is supportive because the vagus nerve passes through the inner ear hearing relaxing sounds or generating your own sounds can really stimulate that nerve and help

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support more calm in the body so whether you are listening to something that you perceive as relaxing whether that is relaxing music relaxing Voice or even generating your own sounds which is very cool

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using your voice which stimulates the vagus nerve as it passes down through your throat can help relax you so whether you're listening to relaxing sounds at someone else's make a

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or you are humming you are singing and you are using your own vocal cords to kind of support and stimulate that vagus nerve it can really help

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relax you.

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So again if you're interested in learning more about that definitely tune in to episode 139 with Ashley because she describes the power of sound healing beautifully and the power of using our own voices to heal

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beautifully so those are just some of the practices that you can use to support your parasympathetic nervous system to Signal rest.

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For your mind and body right and that's what's going to really supplement your sleep and your down time if you find yourself still being

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tired but wired or you find yourself trying to rest but not feeling rested those are some ways that you can truly support your physical body in signaling to your brain that it is okay to come down that it is okay to be off of high alert to that it is okay to feel rested.

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So lastly I really want to talk about rest looking and feeling and being however you like

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okay I just listed those practices in kind of walked us through what's happening with our nervous system because I really love tangible information I like listening when other people give me tangible information I'm like okay but what you want me to do.

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Okay that's what I like to hear so that's what I like to give but I also want to emphasize that rest can look and feel however you like you are

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living in your body I and other people are not and so you can determine what

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it feels like to be soft to have he's and to rest and what that feels like for you.

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There's been a ton of discourse about Trends and movements including black girl luxury and the soft life and haven't said a whole lot about any of it because honestly I don't really have a huge opinion on it

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either way and I think the core of of what those kind of movements are trying to say is a lot of what this platform has been about.

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The whole time I've been doing it it just hasn't been tied to a specific social media term or aesthetic which I think is a lot of what we're seeing now.

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I've seen some critiques of these movements that point out that some depictions of the soft life and of he's in a black or a luxury are rooted in and perpetuate materialism and to an extent

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I get that I hear those critiques and I do think there is some truth there but I don't necessarily think that that is a bad thing or something that needs to be judged I think that

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a lot of this content

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does promote some elements of materialism but that's because that's what social media does especially on platforms like Tick-Tock and Instagram they're very visual.

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You're creating a video there needs to be something there for people

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tissie and it's almost easier to get a point across with the depiction of a material item or with having a certain aesthetic

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then it is an other way is like you can't really visually depict the parasympathetic nervous system

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kicking in but you can depict you know.

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Your nails after getting a manicure or a new bag or footage from a trip so my opinion which take it with a grain of salt as I would rather let people enjoy things and what other people.

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Especially strangers want to do with their time their money and their social media platforms

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it's up to them so if someone else's definition of having a soft life or being entities or being at rest or being in luxury is treating themselves to material things and enjoying the fruits of their labor with those material things.

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Love that for them and if for other people having a soft life and living in luxury is saying no more and saving their money and getting some extra sleep or going through the practices we talked about in this episode.

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I also love that for them and I actually think that for a lot of people it's probably a combination of all of the above.

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For me if I were to define a soft life it would mean coming home to myself

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having a soft place to land and it would really be kind of that emotional standpoint of feeling like I don't need to take on

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as much it would mean being arrested it would mean having

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plenty of time and space to rest and digest that would be my personal definition but it is your life it is your body it is your mental physical and emotional state and you can Define what that means for you you can Define

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let's often this means for you you can Define what rest means for you so even if you don't see your definition of rest being depicted online

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you can still do what feels authentic to you or if you're depicting your definition of softness and

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you know people disagree with it that's okay it's okay for them to disagree because ultimately it should serve you

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so I wanted to talk about that because also with my own personal definition of ease and softness and luxury.

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This summer I've decided to gift myself the luxury of a little bit more time

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actually think time is probably the greatest luxury there is and I'm taking some intentional time to rest because I'm taking a little podcast summer vacation

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I'm taking a break from recording new episodes and actually going to be re-airings but my favorite episodes of balance black girl throughout July and August that you can still enjoy if you want to re listen to them

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or if they're maybe episodes that you missed or if you're a new listener just now tuning in and you haven't heard them you'll be a great time to get caught up

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on those and I'm going to use that time that I would normally spend producing and promoting new episodes

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resting to support my parasympathetic nervous system.

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To travel to spend time with my people to be creative without really worrying too much about the end result and to ideate

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I wanted to walk the walk a little bit more when it came to finding rest and balance

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I love this show and I love what I get to do here but I'll be honest each episode normally these episodes are about 30 to 60 minutes long.

00:28:56.792 --> 00:29:01.053
Can take anywhere from five to eight hours to make and that's just

00:29:00.852 --> 00:29:13.539
to make that doesn't even count the social media content the communicating with guests all of the admin work that goes on behind the scenes just to keep it running to promote it so that you'll know about it right.

00:29:13.626 --> 00:29:27.997
I've been feeling pretty close to burn out for some time and it was really time for me to walk the walk when it comes to balance and the example I wanted to set and I realize that what would help me feel most rested.

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Would be gifting myself some more time so that's what I'm doing and I'm going to take a little bit of a break but

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definitely still tuned in to a summer vacation episodes because they've been thoughtfully curated to help us transition from what we've covered in the healing series.

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Into our abundant series which will be kicking off when I return in the fall so stay subscribed stay tuning in with the rewinds because they're great episodes

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and I'll be back with new episodes in the fall.

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Like I just mentioned our series theme when we return in the fall is going to be abundance so when we come back we're going to be talking about how we can be abundant with our time how we can grow resources without exploitation

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and what we need to do to be Recession Proof because

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it's getting real out here and and I want us to be covered and supported and resource tanned protected so

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as excited as I am to take a break I'm also very excited to bring you those episodes in the fall because before my break I started working on them and it's going to be good.

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And I really want to encourage you to channel that childlike summer vacation energy into something that you can take a break from the summer so I'm gifting myself

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time the luxury of time by taking a break from podcasting

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is there something that you can give to yourself time with is there a task or an expectation that you can spend a bit of time backing away from to give yourself more time to rest and digest to channel that summer vacation energy

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what can you say no to this summer so that you can give yourself a little bit more time to enjoy the season so that you can rest and Digest.

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Thank you for tuning in to this week's episode of balance black girl.

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I hope you enjoyed our series on healing and that you feel supported to take a break and to rest please don't forget to check out our new reset journal the guided journaling system that will help you gain Clarity and start anew each day.

00:31:30.047 --> 00:31:35.730
You can check it out in our show notes or head to balance black girl.com journal to purchase.

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Head to the show notes for links to the resources I mentioned in today's episode and to check out special offers from our brand Partners thank you for tuning in.

00:31:45.520 --> 00:31:59.440

00:31:59.286 --> 00:32:10.947
Patient with a throwback episode about the significance of journaling all the ways it benefits us so make sure you're subscribed so you don't miss it and if you enjoyed this podcast please leave.

00:32:10.800 --> 00:32:21.171



One Response

  1. Well said! Resting is one of the luxury gifts that I need to incorporate into my life. As a restless person by nature, I am inspired by your cold water and ice rib techniques.

    Thank you for sharing with us.

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