Hacking Your Nervous System for Success

September 13, 2021

Today I’m going to talk less about business and more about the nervous system. Back in 2012 I was diagnosed with an auto-immune response to many different foods, so I began to look into different practices to help balance my nervous system. A friend mentioned that I should share a bit about this since many people don’t realise these tools exist – physical and mental things that you can use to improve your daily life, and entrepreneurship in general. I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me! 

Topics Discussed

  • Breaking down blue light and how it can interrupt our sleep patterns
  • How constant noise can wear down your nervous system
  • Why I love my weighted blanket
  • Non-physical (and free) things you can do to protect your nervous system
  • The importance of subtle energy and how it can affect you day to day

If you’re listening to this episode and feeling like you could use support as a highly sensitive or introverted entrepreneur, I’d love to invite you to learn more about how we can work 1:1 together. Read more about all of my services here.

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Click here for a raw, unedited transcript of this episode

[00:00:00] Emma-Louise Parkes: Hello. Hi everyone. Welcome to this week’s solo episode of the Ambitious Introvert Podcast with me, Emma Louise. And today I’m going to be talking less business and more. Nervous system. So the idea for this episode came out of a conversation with my friend, Amy Brown, and I was just discussing some of the things that I do within my life to protect my nervous system, to balance my nervous system.

And these are things that I’ve been doing for a number of years. Back in 2012, I was diagnosed with auto-immune response to a number of foods. So I had to overhaul my diet, really detox, really clarify it to now reduce the inflammation. And a lot of that, it affected my endocrine system. My adrenals, I was doing shifts at the time as a controller, which obviously isn’t ideal.

I really looked into a lot of practices to really balance my nervous system before I even realized that I was highly sensitive. So, um, I didn’t realize that until about 2019, and these have just been part of my, my everyday life that I kind of take for granted. And when I was discussing some part of this with Amy, I don’t remember what it was now.

She’s like, you should share this on the podcast because so many people. Won’t have these tools or don’t realize that they can help. So that’s what I’m going to do in this episode. I’m going to share with you some of the kind of physical and the non-physical things that are used daily and life too.

Helped to keep my nervous system as happy as possible while I’m going through this crazy journey of entrepreneurship. So first of all, and get, start with the actual physical things that I use. And there are there probably more than this, but I’ve narrowed it down really to the top three that I know make the biggest difference.

And if I don’t use, I notice a big difference. So the first thing is. I am highly, highly sensitive to any kind of fluorescent or blue light to the point that I used to go to a yoga class and it had a fluorescent strip light on the ceiling. And even with my eyes closed, I could almost see it flickering.

And it used to really drive me crazy. And in the ops room, when I was a controller, we had the same thing. We had like fluorescent lights and. They just hurt my eyes and had so much, they just make me really, really uncomfortable. And of course, what happens when you’re sat in front of a laptop or a phone all day is we’ve been exposed to this blue light, which is completely natural part of the light spectrum during the day, but not during the evening.

So our bodies are really adapted to wake up with the sun and start. Feel sleepy when the sunsets. And of course, you’ve probably heard that being on technology in the evening, it emits this blue light, which is much more stimulating to our nervous system. And it’s basically given us the messages of stay awake, stay awake, um, the same way, people that suffer with sad, seasonal affectation disorder.

They use these lights like Phillips Lummi, which, you know, gradually increased the warm lights in the morning. So it’s a gentle wake-up like it would be with the sunrise. And so really honoring more of our circadian rhythms and what we would naturally be doing at certain points of the day. So my main point here is I’m spending a lot of time in front of a screen while I’m to my business.

And that means a lot of blue light. So. There are various ways that you can eliminate this. And one of the easiest ways is if you have. Apple products. I’m not sure if there’s something similar on Android or other providers, but on apple they have, what’s called a night shift mode and you can set this to automatically go on and off at the set time each day.

And it changes the color. Uh, for light, basically emitted from the phone screen. So if you play around with it, you’ll see that during the day it’s quite a white, bright light. It’s got those blue undertones. And then when the night shift mode comes on, it goes very orange. So it’s very warm red lights. Um, again, the kind of light that you would just have from.

Being under the moon or lighting candles or sitting around a fire. Uh, all of the things that, you know, we would have done previously before we had modernized in the evenings. So. And that’s a really great way to have that on. Um, so automatically comes on. And if you are using your screen in the evening, if it’s not, if you just can’t avoid it, it just means that you’re blocking out some of that blueness, which will help your sleep.

On my Mac book. I use, um, an add-on or an extension, and I’ve had this for years and it’s called it’s called flux and it’s F dot Lux. And you can get it for Mac. I believe you can get it for a PC as well. Um, like I say, it’s been going for years and I believe it’s free. I believe it’s actually free extension.

You may have the option to donate and it does exactly the same thing. You can set your ideal, go to bed and your ideal wake up time, and then it automatically adjusts the screen for you. Now, some people find this really weird because they so used to looking at screens that are blue and white, and I’ve had people say, oh, I can’t look to everything looks red.

It’s it’s too weird. The color freaks me out. Like I would suggest maybe not creating graphics or doing anything that requires you to be very conscious of a color or a tone during this time, because obviously is distorted. Um, but if you. Ah, just online. I don’t know, reading emails or doing research or anything like that, or even on a zoom call, I would highly, highly recommend that you enable it another way that you can do this is you can buy physical blue light blockers.

Um, I have one on my phone and my iPad. I just got them on Amazon. If you type it in your cover screen, protector blue light blocker. And I’ve also got one on the Mac book as well. So just to make sure that I’m doubly protected. From those pesky little bits of blue lights. The other thing that I use are blue light blocking glasses.

Now I’ve noticed that these have become super popular lately, um, which makes me laugh. I’ve been using this for about seven years to the point that I couldn’t get them in the UK. And I had to order them from the states. So. There are lots and lots out there. There are ones you can use during the day. They have just a slight yellow tinge.

And this isn’t so much about ensuring that you sleep well. This is more protecting your eyes. If you’re in front of the screen for eight hours, making sure that you protect your eyes from those blue lights, the only negative with doing this, I will warn you is if you use a ring light to record video, Obviously, because they’re not allowing that fluorescent light to come through.

They’re reflecting it back. So you will have glasses where people won’t see your eyes. They’ll just see a massive reflection of the ring light. So I tend to take them off for anything. Um, but I have a couple of pairs of those during the day. I literally got them from Amazon again. Um, and then I have two different pairs for the evening.

Uh, I have a pair of Swan Knicks, which I’ve had for years and I use them. As the sun set in, if I’m watching TV or reading something. And then I also have some true darks, which I got from the states and I use those for about an hour before bed. And the reason I’ve got these different pairs is because they get progressive.

Darker. So the true darks are red. Literally everything just looks red and they filter out 100% of blue and green light. So for instance, my toothbrush has a green light on it to show that it’s on when I’ve got true darks on, I could not see that light. It just doesn’t exist. So I like to wear those about an hour before bed, so I can really cut out the light.

And the Swanick ones are more orange, so that better for watching TV or if I’m still reading something or looking at something online. Um, because the red ones, basically I can read a Kindle in them and just about navigate my way around the house. And that’s about it. And then speaking of the house, um, I do have very warm light bulbs in all of my lights, just because I find that more.

I find it easier on my eyes and I liked that kind of cozy Scandinavian, warm look with lights. So I tend to have lamps dotted around rather than a central ceiling light. And I do have very orangy, warm tone of lamp anyway, because that’s my aesthetic. And I also have blackout blinds in my bedroom. Um, they changed the streetlight in, outside my house about two years ago.

Um, so here in the UK, they’re getting rid of all the old incandescent bulbs. So we used to have free like warm orangy glow of street lights, and they changed them with led fluorescent type, which are very white and extremely bright. So I’ve now got blackout blinds as well. So it blocks out that junk light wall.

I’m trying to say. So that’s my eyes and my sleep protected. The second thing that I use almost daily to protect my nervous system and have done for years is noise, canceling headphones. I adore my noise, canceling headphones and 80% of the time that I have them. I’m not listening to anything but silence.

So I live in a city when I was a controller on my brakes. There was no where quiet to sit. There were TV screens or people having conversations on phones before the pandemic. I used to travel a lot. I would be flying probably every six to eight weeks and. All of that noise than bombardment. It really wears my nervous system down.

And I feel it when I’ve been in places where there’s just a constant hub-bub of noise. So noise canceling headphones, one of the best investments I have ever made, um, on a long flight, they cut out that rumble of the engine and obviously cut out the noise of the people around. I found that I got to places feeling more refreshed because.

I blocked out that noise. When I was on breaks as a controller, I would read my book and I would just put them in just to block out. Um, I have like 30 minute breaks in between sessions and they had to be really on it and refreshed when I went back to control. So I would get really, really tired if I was having to listen to a lot of other conversations and TV and I use them in the house just because, like I say, I’m in the city.

So if it’s summer, I’ve got a windows open. I hear traffic. I hear the people in their gardens. When I walk around the house in them, it just cuts all of that out. And there’s just a beautiful, beautiful silence. So I cannot recommend highly enough noise canceling headphones. I personally use both. I’ve got two pairs, I’ve got an, any pair for travel and I’ve got, um, an over air pad that I use in the house.

Um, that’s super comfortable, but just having those few moments of silence makes the biggest, biggest difference. And the third physical thing that I use for my nervous system. And you’ve probably heard or read a lot about these, or maybe even have one is a weighted blanket. And I adore my weighted blanket.

I was late to the game. With this one, I didn’t get it until 2020, and they’d been around a long time and I’m not sure what the evidence is behind them. I don’t know if it’s scientifically proven. I don’t know if it’s anecdotal either way. So many people raved about it that I thought I would give it a try.

Now I don’t sleep under the weighted blanket because I do find it a little bit hot, but what I do is I have it on the sofa. So when I go downstairs and you’re going to sit and read or sit and watch something on TV, I sit under it. I have it over my lap and. It gives an instant feeling of calm. I just feel so much better.

It’s like a big, giant warm hug. It’s, it’s hard to explain, but I just feel calmer when I’m underneath it. So I don’t have any frame of reference for that. I can’t say, you know, like with my blue blockers, for instance, I track my deep sleep and my rent and I can see that my deep sleep is way less. If I haven’t worn my blue blockers that day.

So. You know, I can correlate that cause and effect. I can’t do that with a weighted blanket. I didn’t have any proof. I just know that I enjoy being underneath it. So definitely something that I would recommend trying, especially in the winter. And it just feels super, super cold. So now I’m going to share with you three things that I’m not a physical item, and these ones actually are all free, which is amazing.

And these are three things that I do regulate and notice a massive difference with my nervous system because of them. And the first one is probably going to be really, really obvious, but that is meditation. Now. I. Find meditation a challenge. But it’s a practice. And so I practice meditation, not always as consistently as I would like to in an ideal world, but what I love is the sitting in silence.

I actually use my noise canceling head. When I’m meditating. So for guided meditation or silent meditation, I use those and it’s just those few minutes of Headspace. And I noticed the biggest difference when I’m not doing it. Another thing that I really love is the sound bath. You may have seen, there are some baths available that you can go into, especially in some of the bigger us cities.

It’s quite a thing now, but I use an app called insight timer, which I’ve mentioned before. Great app it’s available for free, or you can upgrade to get extra features. I use the free version and I use it every day. And what insight timer has, it has like lectures and different master classes. It also has some yoga practices, some breath work, but it has so many different meditations and it also has the sound baths.

So the great thing about soundbites now is a lot of them are. Almost 3d. So if you’re using noise, canceling headphones, and you listen to one of these sound baths, you can hear the gongs and the bells and the different sounds moving all around you. And it’s so, so good for calming the nervous system down.

So that is something that I would highly, highly recommend the other great thing about insight. Is, you can set a timer for meditation. So say you want to do a five minute meditation. You can set that and you can choose a gong or a bell. They have about eight or so different ones to choose from to bring you round from it.

So you get to set the noise that brings you round, which is much nicer than just setting their alarm on your phone, because it can be really gentle and see things. So definitely. Meditation sound bath and using an app like insight timer. If you can do that on a regular basis, your nervous system is definitely going to thank you.

Now, something I’ve talked about before, I’ve talked about this a lot in my content and in the Facebook group and something I started doing in 2020 is. Having one day a week where I don’t use any tech at all, complete tech detox. So I do this one weekend day. It varies depending on what I’m doing, which one I feel like.

And it’s something that I wish I’d implemented sooner in my business. And I think the reason I did yeah. Is before I had my business online, I would easily go a couple of days without really looking at my phone. I didn’t have social media. I didn’t use my phone for anything like that. I didn’t read the news.

I literally used my phone to connect with people on WhatsApp and I would be on the laptop as, and when I felt like it. So it would be for, you know, online shopping or banking or, you know, looking at Pinterest or whatever I was doing. But obviously now we’re. The time being more, I don’t want to say forced upon me, but more structured because I have client calls and I have content to create.

I really noticed in 2020 that the amount of time I spent on tech was making me definitely feel more fragile. So I decided to try implementing this one day a week where there’s like zero tech, nothing, and it’s been amazing. And a few friends have followed me and they said the same thing. The couple of things that I noticed from it are, first of all, the time goes so slowly.

It feels like. Luxurious day. And I think it’s because I’m not constantly faced with a clock because obviously every time we look at our phone, every time we’ve got my laptop open, we are looking at the clock and I think where we can get into a tech rabbit hole. So whether that’s, you know, Google or social media or.

Oh, I’ll just send one email and then end up doing a ton of stuff. That time goes so quick, quickly in any of you that have ever tracked your time online or your screen time or time on certain apps. And if you haven’t, I highly recommend that you do, because it’s very enlightening. You will know that you feel like you’ve been five minutes and you’ve been 20.

So that’s one of the greatest things about that day off of tech for me is a reef spacious feeling of almost like, wow, like it’s, it’s only lunchtime. How is that? I feel like I’ve had so much time and done so much. And I think where the tech doesn’t distract me, I do more of the things that I feel like I don’t have time to do when the tech is on.

And of course I do. It’s all pro. But I ended up doing more in the house or I end up doing more things outdoors and it just feels really great. So tech detox one day a week, highly recommended, definitely feel like for creativity as well. If you’re a highly sensitive need in that time. For your nervous system, just to decompress.

And especially if you’re an empath, not absorbing what everyone else is saying or thinking or reading online for one day a week is priceless. So the last free thing that I’ve been using, this is quite new edition. I’ve been using this for me. Six weeks now I’m recording this early August is subtle energy work.

Now I do energy work. My clients. I also have regular energy work, myself, things like Reiki and emotion code. So. I am totally open to the fact that we do need to protect our energies and work with them. But subtle energies are something that I’ve learned much more about this year. I read a book by Donna Eden.

She invented the Eden method of protecting your energy. And the book is called energy medicine. I would highly recommend it. Big book. It’s a long book. Um, but so, so good. However, Donna also has a lot of videos on YouTube and a lot of resources available online at which you can find the information there.

I’m just, I’m a question. I’m a one-three profile in human design. I like to learn. So I read the book, but what she teaches us is how quite often we talk about, uh, energy systems in the body. So if someone’s talking about Reiki, they’re talking about the shakra system. Uh, quite a lot of the time in meditational yoga, we, we refer to the shakra system as well.

And things like acupuncture and acupressure. We talked about the meridians, so where the needles are placed or the pressure points are along the body running along the Meridian. But what she teaches us is that there are actually nine different subtle energy systems within the body that all work in very, very different ways.

And they’re all separate but interconnected. So she has a lot of exercises that you can do either for free specifically. Energy systems or for specific instances or ailments you might have, and you can carry a lot of these out yourself, or maybe with someone to help you. You don’t necessarily need to go to a practitioner for this.

And she has a routine which I’ve started to incorporate daily, and I felt really, really great for it. So you can find these on YouTube. If you just search for Donna Eden energy routine or Eden method. Daily energy routine, something like that. One of the ones that she teaches it’s for the triple warmer.

Now the triple warmer is part of our energy system and it relates to the fight or flight response. So most people in modern day are feeling stressed by things that. Which is not designed to feel stress about, you know, we now feel the same about a deadline or being trolled online as we would have done about running away from a tiger back in the day.

So our nervous system reacts and exactly the same way, but we come across literally hundreds of these stresses every day, it could be being stuck in traffic, or it could be, you know, feeling like you’re running out of time, or it could be an argument with someone, you know, they’re not fatal, they’re not dangerous.

Like the time. Would have been, but our body is still in that primitive mode and react in the same way. So our triple warmer energy, especially if we’re highly sensitive, can quite often be. Out of kilter and either overactive or underactive. So mine was overactive. I’m also not surprised enough to 17 years in air traffic control, where I have to be on high alert and monitor and everything all the time.

So she has a super simple exercise for the triple warmer and I do it twice a day and it literally takes 30 seconds each time. And that is it. Um, so head on over to YouTube. Such for Donna Eden, she’s got tons of videos. She’s got so much experience. You can see some of them are super old. She’s been on there for years.

I’m sure she’s also available on line valley. If anyone has a mind valley subscription, she’s affiliated with them, but I would really recommend just looking into, you know, the basic. Exercises that she recommends each day and especially the triple warmer one, because that could just be something to incorporate to really help that nervous system.

So I really hope that that was useful. Um, just to recap, three physical things that I use daily to help keep my nervous system happy and calm are methods of blocking the blue light from my computer. So whether that’s the app, whether it’s the physical blocker on the screen or the blue blocking glasses.

Noise canceling headphones for that silence and the weighted blanket to sit underneath. And then also things that are just available for free. Are the meditation or sound bath, a tech detox one day per week, and now incorporating the subtle energy exercises as well into my daily routine. So I hope you enjoyed this far less business related episode of the ambitious introvert, but I wanted to share with you some of the things that, like I say, just my normal and what I do, but then starting to appreciate it.

Not everyone incorporates these activities into their day, so may not be getting the benefits. So if that was helpful, I would love to know, come over to Instagram and connect with me at Emmylou parks. And you can email me. Hello, Emma, Louis parks.com. I would love to hear your takeaways from this episode, what made you go aha.

And which of the things do you think that you will incorporate into your day from now on.