Nourishing your nervous system and surrendering….
There will be no other time in our lives where we will experience what we are experiencing right now...
I have no doubt most of you would have felt similar feels to me over the past few weeks; anxiousness, apprehension, nervousness, fatigue, sadness, fear, doubt, melancholy, loneliness, frustration, anger, irritation, annoyance and helpless. Do any of them ring a bell? Often it is the ‘unknown’ and lack of control that exacerbates these feelings. Hello Covid19.
As a health care practitioner, I worry about the burden that these emotions can have on our internal bodies, not only in the present moment and how it affects each and every one of us and those around us right now but also in the long term. So, in saying this, it is not only our immune systems that we have to ensure is up for this game but potentially even more so our nervous systems and mental health.
Being a parent in ‘regular’ times has its challenges. This extra-large layer of stress that Covid19 is presenting us has taken parenting to another level altogether.
Fran wrote a beautiful blog on the trials of being pregnant and soon to give birth during Covid times and I highly recommend you read it if you are in a similar position. I am sure you will resonate with what she is feeling and she hopes that in some way you feel supported and connected with her and other new mum’s to be during this time.
I recall vividly as a breastfeeding mum of a single and then twins, and I know as a practitioner to many, that the milk supply can be greatly impacted by heightened stress. Milk supply can drop dramatically and that itself can cause even more anxiety and worry for Mothers. I recall the stress coming from sleep deprivation, poor hydration, too little food, work stress, family stress and so on. These pressures and strains do not stop during Covid 19 so the additional stress this pandemic takes, means the load on the nervous system intensifies.
If you are a mum to be, a brand new mum with a newborn, or a mum with one or more growing babes then I want to take this opportunity to outline a few things that you can to support yourself and to nourish your nervous system during this time so you come out the other side stronger for it.
So, how are you going? Are you up and down a little? Have you noticed a drop in your milk supply?
What are you better for?
A walk? For soaking up some sunshine out in the back yard? For getting some fresh air? For a consistent meditation/mindfulness practice? (get an app to help you!) For making an effort for zoom dates with your friends and family? For a little (but not too much) social media connection? For some structured exercise? For eating well? For a little more sleep / a 15min nap in the afternoon? (because maybe you are not getting that quality deep rest at night)
For a day that has structure and routine for it?
I am super aware that this is an opportunity to build more resilience not only mental but physical resilience that will serve me for the years ahead. With that, here are some of my favourite naturopathic remedies specific to the nervous system:
- Mushrooms – mu favourite for the nervous system is Reishi – I love the brand https://teelixir.com start at ½ tsp 2x’s a day in a little water.
- All of the B vitamins – so essential for a proper functioning nervous system and stress response. Get a good quality B complex and have 1 tablet after breakfast and 1 after lunch as well. Always on a full stomach.
- Magnesium – key for your energy systems and muscle health. A nutrient highly likely to be depleted during times of stress. You need approx. 350mg – 2x’s day. Amino acid chelate is one of the better forms of Magnesium.
- Vitamin C – one of my favourite adrenal (one of the major organs that regulate the stress response) nutrients. Often touted for being a super immune nutrient (for which it is!) Vitamin C is also fabulous to support you during times of heightened stress. Take 500mg-1gm of vitamin C 2-3x’s a day depending on your tolerance and need. Vitamin C is often mixed with Zinc which is also really great for the nervous system too.
- There are also a number of beautiful herbs to support and strengthen the nervous system, help to calm anxiety and improve one’s adaptation to stress. Some of my favourites include: Withania somnifera (Withania), Avena sativa (Oats – hello Tanker Toppers!), Astragalus membranaceus (Astragalus), Eleutherococcus senticosus (Elutherococcus), Mellissa officinalis (Lemon balm) and Codonopsis pilosula. These herbs are available through Herbalists and Naturopaths
- Omega 3 fats – these are essential for neurotransmitter pathways. Ground flaxseed, chia seed, and hemp seeds – a good ½ - 1 tablespoon of each per day. Algae oil based omega 3 supplements are also great.
- Vitamin D is also extremely important for brain and nervous system health. As we go into winter I suggest a minimum of 3000IU daily.
- Tryphphan rich foods to help your body make your happy hormone – serotonin. Get into seeds, especially pumpkin seeds, sea vegetables such as kelp, soy – quality organic tofu, soymilk, tempeh, and miso, oats, walnuts, leafy greens – think big handfuls of good old spinach, potatoes, cauliflower, mushrooms, and cucumber.
- Watch your caffeine intake and concentrate on real, seasonal, fresh, wholesome food and stay away from sugar and the refined stuff – you know all of that makes you feel ordinary. Do your best and when you are feeling stressed head for the good stuff instead.
Over the past few days, a new word has also entered my awareness. It is ‘surrender’. As I learn to surrender during this unprecedented time I am grasping the opportunities it also brings. The natural slowing down of life and connection with my family. I am looking at this time as a once in a lifetime chance to open my eyes and see things a little differently. Keep on top of your nervous system game and not only will your adrenal glands and long term health thank you for it, but so will your milk supply and your little bubba.
If I could give you a dollar for every time someone has said to me in rough times that ‘this too shall pass’ then I would be a millionaire…I am going to go on the other side and say it to you, because, simply, it will.
Fran and I wish you all strength to get through this in good health and may it serve to us all as a time to surrender, learn and love more than ever.
**Please ensure you consult your practitioner prior to taking any supplements. Quality ‘practitioner only' brands are going to supply you with not only the correct therapeutic dose but also the best ‘form’ of nutrients to ensure you get maximum absorption.