Soothing the nervous system for deep rest in motherhood

The modern world is by nature very stimulating, frantic and stressful, which can easily lead to burnout, anxiety and insomnia.

Simply getting through the day provides numerous opportunities to send our nervous system into overdrive our heart and thoughts race, we feel ungrounded and stressed and cannot switch off at the end of the day, even though we desperately want to. Every cell in our body wants to rest as we close our eyes, yet our mind keeps turning, and the inability to get to sleep only increases our angst more.

To calm ourselves down and bring our mind to a state of ease in which it can prepare for a restful sleep, we need to engage our parasympathetic nervous system. This branch of the autonomic nervous system governs “rest and digest” and helps our body to relax, repair and restore.

Of course as new mums, our sleep is going to suffer, and there’s really no getting around this. Be compassionate with yourself, take each day as it comes and know you’re doing the best you can.

To follow are five simple tips that I use to help soothe my nervous system and find moments of rest in between all the busyness that motherhood brings.

1. Practice mindfulness and undivided attention by noticing your surroundings and the beauty nature has to share. You might like to go for a slow paced walk at twilight, bringing your awareness to the sounds, colours and textures you notice.

2. Clear your mind and worries by writing your stream of consciousness. There’s no right or wrong, simply write whatever comes to mind until you find a little clarity.

3. Create an evening routine for you and your baby to help you slow down and evoke the calming qualities of the parasympathetic nervous system. Try a relaxing bath or shower with candles followed by a cuddle with bub, a herbal tea and placing your favourite essential oil on your temples before bed.

4. Breathe deeply by taking a slow breath in through the nose. Pause for a moment and then take a big sigh out through the mouth as you open the jaw wide. This helps to release tension in the face muscles and removes any lingering nervous energy. Repeat until you feel relaxed.

5. Disconnect from technology during the daytime and take a walk in the sunshine – essential for our body to produce and synthesize vitamin D, aim to get outside every day in the morning or late afternoon, which will in turn improve your circadian rhythm and increase your chances of getting a good nights rest.

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© 2021 by Erin Elizabeth Grant