Ground Your Nervous System

Embracing Structure.

The Nervous System Loves Routine

The mind loves spontaneity and excitement, and the idea of routine may sound a little mundane, even boring.  But the body craves stability and predictability – our systems hum along better when there are fewer surprises.

It is the nervous system that is affected first when we’re leading erratic lives, and when the nervous system is scattered, digestion is adversely affected. It’s hard to have a scattered nervous system and an optimally functioning digestive system, and visa versa. They are very closely linked.

Unfortunately, our modern lifestyles tend to push our nervous systems beyond their natural capacity. Without consciously addressing this, true health will be difficult to obtain.

The abdomen and stomach region need to be in a state of rest (rest and digest is governed by the parasympathetic nervous system) in order for digestion to function effectively and efficiently. This is mainly around meal times, but the problem is that if we’re living irregular, scattered lives, it’s hard to switch the fight and flight mode off at meal times.

When we have structure and regularity in our day, the nervous system has the chance to relax and stabilise. The ‘fight or flight’ response (sympathetic nervous system) is not needed as much when we’re grounding into a more structure day and integrating supportive daily practices. And when the nervous system is relaxed, our digestion has a better chance of optimum performance.

Living with structure and routine is living rhythmically. We put the daily activities that need to take priority in their rightful place and allow the rest of our day to flow creatively from there.

So!

Focus first on your meal and sleep times. Get them firmly established into your day. Give them the priority status they deserve and work the rest of your day around them. This is about your health and well being, after all.

This is the foundation of a healing lifestyle.

Sleeping and Eating Schedule

Sleep

Retiring each night before 10 pm and waking each morning around sunrise will bring noticeable benefits to your day. This will differ slightly for everyone…some people don’t need as much sleep as others and they might find that they can stay up until 11pm and rise happily and rested, with the sun.

Observing and connecting with the patterns in nature will bring a deeper understanding of the perfection of such a routine.

If you’re getting up at sunrise and finding that you’re still tired, pull your bedtime back. It might be a case of trial and error, but the point is to get to know what works for you.

Meals

When you’re eating the right amounts and types of food at each meal, and fasting until you get hungry, you’ll find that your mealtimes fall into a rhythm. Your digestion (not to mention your energy levels, mind, and emotions) are going to thank you for this!

Have you heard this saying?

Eat an easy breakfast, a hearty lunch, and a light dinner.

It’s a good one, and full of simple wisdom. Our belly fire is designed to align with the rhythms of the fire in the sky.

Just as the day wakes up slowly as the sun appears over the horizon, so too does our digestion prefer to start with a simple meal. An easy breakfast allows us to break the fast (break-fast) gently. Think oat porridge, rice pudding, stewed fruit, or a simple smoothie (not to be confused with a ’10+ ingredients’ smoothie!). Bacon and eggs aren’t considered ‘easy’ but are fine on occasion – we want to be able to enjoy our food and the moments of connection that mealtimes traditionally bring, but with awareness of our digestive ability.

As the sun climbs in the sky, reaching its peak in the middle of the day, so too are our bellies fired up and ready to digest the biggest meal of the day.

As the sun descends, so too does our digestive strength. This reflects the need to eat a lighter meal in the evening. It’s also best to eat by 7pm, leaving a good 3-4 hours before going to bed so we’re not digesting our meal through the night.

Follow these patterns for a few weeks and notice how much better you feel.

And read my blog post A Well-Designed Day Begins with a Focused Morning.

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