Navigating Central Nervous System Dysregulation When You Are Confused, Upset & Weak

Today we are talking about feeling confused, upset, and weak in your divorce recovery trauma. And I’ll do this through the storytelling lens of me sharing my day. I told you earlier this year that this year is the time when I embrace going full out and sharing all the bits and pieces of me with you. I do this so you can see we women really are all in this together, and we are all working on the same things in our life after divorce.

A lot of the lessons we experience in life circle back around. Ideally, when they come back again, we have leveled up, and they are a little easier to deal with, and we move through them with smoothness.

This morning, I woke up feeling confused, upset, and weak. Now, those were not the words that came to mind, but they are the words that I figured out I needed to share with you. The word that came to mind to me first thing this morning: dysregulated. Now, as a trauma-informed therapist, saying to myself, “I’m really dysregulated,” makes sense. But then, later in the day, my husband told me that even he didn’t know what I meant.

Let’s unpack the dysregulated central nervous system.

Wood signs Lost, Disoriented, Perplexed, Confused on wood pole, central nervous system dysregulation

I have definitely been pushing out of my comfort zone lately and challenging myself to show up differently in the world. By doing this, I feel exposed; I feel self-doubt, and I feel nervous sometimes about how I’m carrying all of this newness.

I am always healing in the body, so I’m in touch with feeling discomfort in my body because of some historical health stuff. Then, to add to it all, my kid got sick this weekend, and she has been running a pretty solid fever for the last couple of days. I’ve been embracing a homeopathic journey and started treating her with homeopathic remedies while also embracing the science of Advil.

But now I’ve got to handle this sickness in addition to my work day, and suddenly all this stuff came crashing into my brain that I couldn’t figure out how to manage. It felt wobbly, and I was confused. I felt I was exposed and weak.

Once I got her medicated and watching a great show on Netflix, I could sit with myself for a bit and figure out what is going on here. What was really tripping me up was that my amazing cleaning crew was coming to the house today to clean the house, and I said, “Oh, gosh, they’re going to see us like this.”

The idea that I was exposed and I was struggling in front of people pushed me over the edge. When I breathed through that, I could move into acceptance. I had to remind myself that everything is okay and there is a bigger picture here. After all of that, I no longer felt confused, and I knew what to do.

purple, orange, red and pink pipe cleaners, shaping a face

What is Nervous System Dysregulation?

Let’s start with what is your central nervous system and what we mean by ‘dysregulated.’ We all have a ‘highway’ that runs from the base of our spine and our tailbone up into our brain stem that sends information back and forth. It’s called the central nervous system. There is constant feedback between the brain and the body about what is going on, and one of the key things it communicates is safety and security.

When the brain or the body perceives that it is not safe or secure, it sets off alarm bells in various ways: Fight, flight, freeze, and fawn. It’s all to do with cortisol levels, stress hormones, anxiety, and panic. It built all of this into the body in order to help us survive and to keep us safe. The thing is, we’ve evolved since we became equipped with the central nervous system.

There are many of us women who have experienced really dangerous situations, and maybe some of them were in your marriage. Once those incidents of danger are over and we are once again safe, unless we do a good job of allowing the brain and the body to circulate that safety message consistently, we women live in this hyper-aroused place of “I’m not safe, and I’m not secure.” It’s an endless feedback loop of danger.

You can accidentally keep this hyper-sense activated. For example, running or watching scary movies can tell your central nervous system that you’re not safe. Anything that is going to cause your adrenaline to spike consistently will give your central nervous system a signal that something dangerous is happening.

Things feel at ease when your central nervous system is regulated; you feel safe and clear-headed.

pink wash cloth on purple background with green half circle

How to Regulate a Dysregulated Nervous System

When you’re not feeling this sense of calm, there is a clue that your central nervous system needs some regulation. So how do we regulate the central nervous system?

Harnessing Your Thoughts: How to Have Positive Thoughts

First: positive thoughts. Are you thinking positive things, or are you thinking scary things in your post-divorce recovery? You need to pump the brakes on a negative spiral.

Let me shift into some positive learning thoughts. Say to yourself: Whatever is happening here is manageable, and there is a solution.

Harness your thoughts and shift the tone of your mind.

flowers glued on wood branches, shaping a butterfly

The second way to regulate your central nervous system? Your breath.

  • Is it expanded?
  • Is it deep?
  • Can it reach down into your diaphragm?
  • Can it fill up your whole chest?
  • Or are you shallow breathing? Chronic shallow breathing reinforces the message between your brain and your body that you’re not safe.

When we take a big, deep breath with a slower exhale, we are queuing a dialogue between the brain and the body that all is well.

How to Fix Your Dysregulated Nervous System

There are other vital aspects to this, such as getting enough rest and giving our body the right nutrients. There is a nerve called the vagus nerve that runs in the central nervous system. You can access the vagus nerve by running your pinky finger inside your ear canal in little circles, and that tells your vagus nerve, “We’re okay.”

For me, a shower is the most powerful way for me to regulate my nervous system. After some deep breaths and a shower, I grabbed my sick kid and said, “Hey, let’s go out for a gentle walk outside.” I knew that a gentle walk would further ground me, as well as move the virus that she was fighting through her lymphatic system to help her heal.

shower outside, palm tree in the background

Central Nervous System Dysregulation Hacks on TikTok

One of my favorite people to follow on TikTok and Instagram is Lindsey Lockett. She talks a lot about a regulated nervous system and how it is the key to so much healing. I would really recommend you watch her videos.

Dysregulated Nervous System and Trauma

Whether you have experienced trauma in your childhood or you are experiencing post-divorce trauma (or both), you know that your central nervous system is constantly feeling like it’s not safe. You’re not fully optimized and thriving in your life after divorce because those feelings inhabit your brain and body and constantly tell you it’s unsafe.

Trauma causes a portion of your mind to feel frozen when the incident or series of events occurred. While the trauma is not still happening, it gets locked into you.

Holistic Medicine Types

Homeopathic remedies and techniques like EMDR are powerful as it unlocks the parts of the body and brain that are storing this trauma. I am still shocked that the mind and body ever became siloed from each other. How did we women ever separate body medicine and mind medicine, and spirit medicine? They shouldn’t be separate. I’m here to bring them together for whole and efficient healing.

healing stones with lettering mind, body, soul, building a pyramid, lake and mountains in background

Recognizing Signs of a Dysregulated Nervous System

If you’re experiencing this, our best line of defense and offense is to learn how to tap into that communication and use it to your advantage so that when you’re feeling dysregulated, you know what to do.

I am thrilled to have you apply some of these things and maybe watch some TikToks and follow Lindsey Lockett about all the different ways you can queue your central nervous system because there are so, so many. Find the ones that work best for you. I cannot wait to hear how it’s going.

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