What’s the point of pain? Why does your body have this innate ability to suddenly trigger instances of mild to extreme pain lasting anywhere from a few seconds to a few months, years, or even decades? More importantly, what can you do about it? It all boils down to understanding your nervous system. This includes the brain, spinal cord, and all of the nerves that send messages back and forth from the outermost parts of your body to the innermost parts of your brain.
Introducing the Hypersensitive Nervous System
You’re watching your favorite TV show and suddenly the image on the screen goes blank for a moment and then switches to a reporter broadcasting your local weather.
The newscaster warns that it is imperative for the people in your area to immediately take cover because severe weather is on the horizon. You heed this warning and have to miss your show as you take cover from the storm.
The next day, you again turn on your TV so you can watch your favorite show, and the same newscaster is still standing there warning that severe weather is in the area even though the skies are blue!
You heed the warning again not realizing that your TV had recorded what happened last night and was randomly playing it over and over throughout the day.
This cycle continuously repeats itself causing you to miss your show, and live in fear of the storm outside that doesn’t even exist.
This is the same cycle that many people fall into with persistent pain. We take heed from these warnings our nervous system gives us in the form of pain, dwell on them, and miss out on all of the joys of life in the process.
Your nervous system is constantly sending information about what’s going on inside and outside your body to your brain. Your brain’s job is to prioritize these messages from the most to the least important and determine what actions need to be taken to benefit you and keep you safe.
If you were to step on a nail, your brain would immediately prioritize the messages sent from your foot and elicit acute pain, a warning sign that you need to take action. You’re not going to notice how your clothes feel on your skin or how the breeze feels in this moment because those messages aren’t as important as the message… YOUR FOOT HAS BEEN PUNCTURED!
It would be normal to feel this pain for a few days, weeks, or three months at most.
If this pain persisted for more than three months your nervous system is probably hypersensitive and being a little overprotective of your foot.
There are numerous factors that can contribute to a hypersensitive nervous system including (1):
- Fear of Movement
- Poor Nutrition
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- Poor Sleep
If your life is bombarded by these factors, your brain may get its priorities a little mixed up… and start sending you pain signals when they aren’t needed.
5 Techniques For Calming a Hypersensitive Nervous System
Prescription medications have become many people’s go-to method for easing pain and calming the nervous system, but these methods are extremely ineffective and unsafe for long-term use (2).
Here are 5 drug- free techniques you can use to prevent the development of persistent pain by calming the nervous system.
Technique #1: Understand Your Pain
This sounds simple but it is often one of the tallest mountains to climb.
If you’ve been injured in the past, you may believe that your pain is due to unhealed or damaged tissue. Or maybe you’ve been diagnosed with an “incurable” disease and give that the credit for your pain.
Pain has been stigmatized with injury and brokenness, but this doesn’t explain the full picture of pain.
No matter what kind of pain you experience, it all begins in the brain (3).
Pain can emerge due to injury or disease, but it can persist due to fear, stress, doubt, or any of the factors listed previously. That’s why it’s important for you to investigate what’s happening inside your brain in order to understand the reason behind the manifestation of your pain.
Technique #2: Act on Your Goals
What is your goal when it comes to yours?
The first thing that might pop into your mind is,”Get rid of my pain!” While this may be an optimal long-term goal, it isn’t the goal you want to focus your efforts on today.
Let’s look at this from a different angle…
Even when you think about trying not to have pain, you’re thinking about your pain!
What should you focus on then?
Making a pain relief pyramid can be helpful for directing your attention to the small changes you can make and begin incorporating into your routine immediately.
Here is an example:
Remember, it’s not a race. The amount of time it takes to master each level of the pyramid is unique for everyone. Take your time and make small gradual changes at first.
Step 3: Move To Soothe Overactive Nerves
When pain persists, it can discourage you from moving. Even though it may be painful to move, this typically does not mean further damage.
Your brain has been trained to protect the previously injured area and hasn’t adapted to the idea that it’s safe to start moving again. The only way you can get comfortable with movement is to gradually start moving a little more each day.
Exercise alone can decrease pain by stimulating the production of opioid-like chemicals in the brain (4). These chemicals increase your pain tolerance and decrease the sensitivity of your nervous system.
Returning to some gentle movement gives your brain the “all clear” so it can stop warning you of the storm that has already passed.
Technique #4: Rewire The Minds Connections
Your brain is plastic!
Not plastic like a water bottle, but plastic in the sense that it can change its form depending on how it plans to function. Despite common belief, the brain doesn’t have to stop changing or developing at a certain age.
In fact, a brain that has ceased to adapt is typically not a healthy brain.
Meditation has the ability to change your brain and nervous system by creating new connections between different neurons (5).
When you recognize and address negative thoughts and fears, you can gain extensive insight into what may be contributing to your pain.
The hustle and bustle of today’s society have caused many to experience excessive amounts of stress and anxiety. People’s everyday conversations are heavily seasoned with negative language, including conversations between practitioners and patients.
One of the most effective methods we can use to clear our minds from all of the negativity, stress, anxiety, and fear that is ubiquitous in society is mindfulness meditation.
When you take a moment to be present and focus on the things that you CAN change and accept the things that you cannot change, your whole perspective on life will transform.
Technique #5: Nourish And Flourish
What are you eating?
Are you nourishing your body with the nutrients it needs to recover from the normal stresses of everyday life?
Or are you filling your digestive system with processed foods that are stripped of nutrients and not able to be efficiently used by the body?
An improper diet can create pain, and make it difficult for the body to heal.
Filling your body with the toxins sprayed on foods, gluten, and processed foods can heighten the sensitivity of the nervous system and create increased inflammation in the gut and the rest of the body.
Chemicals that are contained in the pesticides and herbicides used to spray crops are neurotoxins (6). The only way you can avoid these toxins is to only eat foods that are organic, non-GMO, and in their whole form.
Your brain relies on the essential vitamins and nutrients you consume in order to make all of the metabolic processes occurring within your body function properly. A vitamin or mineral deficiency can throw a wrench in the machine and affect the sensitivity of the nervous system (7).
The ketogenic diet has also been shown to be beneficial for the brain due to the healthy fats that are consumed.
When you practice a ketogenic diet or intermittent fasting, your body begins to produce ketones. These ketones are also beneficial for the brain and are actually used more efficiently than glucose as a fuel source (8).
It’s been said by many, but it couldn’t be more true… You are what you eat, and food is the medicine that will carry you past persistent pain.
Take Action and Tune out the Pain Today
Today is the day that you change the channel!
Persistent pain is not something you have to live with, and it isn’t a normal part of aging. You can tune out persistent pain by retraining your brain.
Take a moment now to create a few easily achievable goals that will get you to your end goal of living pain-free. Your brain and body will thank you for no longer living in fear of the storm that has passed and stepping forward into a life that is filled with peace and joy.
If you need help to better understand what to eat, how to move, or how your thoughts and emotions affect your pain, I hope you’ll consider attending my Free Webinar on Healing Pain Naturally.
You’ll learn how to use the power of your mind to heal; as well as how nutrition and gentle movement can reverse your pain. Does this sound like something you need?
This webinar will provide you with the info to change your life, almost immediately.
Sign-up for the free webinar here (I’ll email you a recording, too!)