What state is YOUR nervous system in?

A curious thing happened to me last weekend.  Some friends invited my husband and me to a small dinner party at a fabulous restaurant in a rooftop greenhouse.  There were 10 of us total… we had only just met one couple, but everyone else was familiar.  

Not sure if it was the novelty of it all – I mean, I’m not usually dining in rooftop greenhouses these days (or ever!) but the conversation all night stayed at a steady hum of hilarious.  Everything was funny.  From old college stories to hearing about my friend’s first dating experience in her mid-40s to everyone suddenly using their best Yooper accent.  And when the couple we just met brought out pics of their beloved Hairless Cat, well… I didn’t think I’d make it through. 

I honestly do not remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did that night.  

I think it did my nervous system a lot of good.  You know the feeling when your muscles are tight and sore, but you get through a bit of a warm up and then your muscles start to relax and feel at ease again?  That’s what this experience felt like for my nerves.  Like I shook them out, got a bit looser.  A Turkey Trot for the Soul. 

I’m not sure how you engineer experiences to be like this, but I am convinced that this kind of connection is critical to our well-being. Especially these days when it feels like every other day the News Cycle produces something that has us tied up in knots. This week was a total doozy for Wisconsin – anger, rage, grief, despair, anxiety, sadness – I honestly felt each of these starting Friday around noon through Sunday around 7 pm with residual feelings since. The ridiculous laughter experienced in the midst of that – it almost felt like a survival tactic.  

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Two podcasts I’ve listened to in this past year seem really critical to share:   

1) Emily and Amelia Nagoski talking about Completing the Stress Cycle and summarizing their book “Burnout” on the Unlocking Us podcast with Brené Brown.  Spoiler: laughter is actually medicine.

2) Deb Dana in conversation with Tami Simon helping us to befriend our nervous system. Spoiler: Nature, Music, Movement: all medicine. 

I’m telling you, if your holiday plans include even the slightest possibility of being in an environment that dries up your bones,  these two podcasts can help you prep.  And if nothing else, they’ll give you a great conversation starter:

Nervous system been in the ventral state lately? 

May your gatherings be safe and your hearts joyful this Thanksgiving, 

PS –  The Deb Dana podcast encourages us to make a menu of things we know help us get our nervous systems regulated! So, I thought I’d share my Thanksgiving weekend Menu with you:

PPS – have you checked out the upcoming group offerings for December? Find them here!

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