What is the Nervous System and Why Is it So Important to Feeling Good?

What is the Nervous System and Why Is it So Important to Feeling Good?

The capacity for us to thrive is more available than ever before. The key to increasing this capacity is through understanding and working with our nervous systems.

The ease you desire in your body, work, and relationships, along with a quieted mind, is all connected to the state of a very beautiful network called the nervous system.

When your nervous system is stabilized, meaning it's not in chronic stress response, you experience better rest, digestion, increased immunity, elevated energy levels, well being in your interpersonal relationships and greater emotional intelligence.

So what is the nervous system?

Your autonomic nervous system is part of your peripheral nervous system and its two branches are the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. These two branches play an important role in balancing and regulating your body’s energy, monitoring threats & initiating a response. The autonomic nervous system takes care of your body’s basic needs, such as breath, temperature, heart rate and digestion without you needing to pay attention to them.

When your sympathetic nervous system is engaged due to ongoing chronic stress, blood drains from your brain making it virtually impossible to learn new things, focus on small tasks, or engage with others because while in this state it is your nervous system's primary goal to conserve energy. This is why when you are in a stress state it is often very challenging to concentrate, listen or effectively communicate.

When your Ventral Vagal, the system within the parasympathetic that engages when your system feels safe, you gain access to your entire brain. This includes the frontal lobes and prefrontal cortex responsible for planning, evaluation, rational thought, focus, innovation, imagination and socialization. The more often you are in the ventral vagal state the easier it becomes to effectively deal with stress in your life. The Ventral Vagal system is where capacity is built within your nervous system.

The autonomic nervous system is organized into three main hierarchical states. Take a look at the following states below and see where you feel your nervous system goes most often. Knowing what autonomic response you are in is the first step in building nervous system capacity.


Ventral Vagal system of connection

  • You can meet demands of the day
  • You easily connect and communicate effectively
  • You can go with the flow
  • You easily engage with life
  • You can easily discern what is aligned with your values
  • You feel equipped to handle stressful situations.


Sympathetic System of action fight/flight

  • You are filled with chaotic energy
  • You feel a drive to escape
  • You experience anxiety or a feeling of anxiousness
  • You feel impatient
  • You may be quick to anger
  • You may act impulsively
  • You may experience more defensiveness You may experience more hyper vigilance.


Dorsal Vagal system of shutdown

  • You are just going through the motions
  • You energy feels drained
  • You feel disconnected
  • You feel apathetic
  • You experience numbness
  • You experience fogginess and lack of concentration
  • You may even feel like giving up.


Now that you know which state your nervous system falls into most of the time, here are some simple practices for strengthening your nervous systems capacity:

  1. Pause and ask yourself “Do I feel fully present or do I feel somewhere else?

  2. What sensations, feelings, thoughts do I notice? I.e. racing thoughts, tight stomach, anxious, shut down, numb, out of it.

  3. Validate your experience by saying internally or out loud that what you are experiencing makes sense even if you aren’t sure why.

  4. Notice your surroundings. Take a moment to look around your space and notice the colors, shapes, textures. Focus your attention on neutral things.

  5. Use sound or vibration frequency to bring your system back into ventral. This is a powerful one.


Stay tuned for part 2 where I will be sharing the neuroscience behind using certain sound waves to rewire, stabilize & build capacity in your nervous system.


Contributor: Laura Larios, FGP Board Advisor, Nervous System Coach and CEO of The Potent CEO. Find Laura on Instagram