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Don’t Be Fooled: Your Nervous System is NOT Dysregulated

By Jenny Peterson

I feel like one of the biggest buzzwords in the health and wellness industry is nervous system regulation. Have chronic pain, mysterious symptoms, blood sugar imbalance, skin rashes, acne, digestive issues, you name it, you just need to regulate your poor dysfunctional nervous system. 

While it seems like everyone and their mother is jumping on the nervous system regulation bus, I’m here to tell you that it's not the true root cause of your chronic conditions. While it may be true that your nervous system is chronically heightened, there is something causing that and it's not a lack of cold water plunges. 

Don’t be fooled into this symptom chasing, disempowering label. If you have been told that the root cause of your symptoms is nervous system dysregulation, then listen in today to learn the truth of what is really happening so you can stop fearing your body and understand why it's doing what it's doing.

Many of us start our healing journey by addressing the foods we eat, the toxins in our environment, etc and then at some point, when those things don’t work (or the practitioner you are working with all of a sudden adds nervous system regulation to their portfolio), we get introduced to nervous system dysregulation. 

In fact, after polling my audience, 83% of you said that you were told that your chronic symptoms were connected to a dysregulated nervous system. 

Now it's easy to fall into believing that this could be the root issue if we don’t know how our body is biologically designed. It can feel like what they are saying is logical. 

Now imagine having someone ask you the following questions:

  • Are you constantly on edge and overwhelmed?

  • Are you highly sensitive to sensory stimuli?

  • Do you experience sleep problems and daytime fatigue?

  • Do you have chronic attention and concentration problems?

  • Do you have chronic health conditions that don’t go away?

  • Are you highly sensitive to other people’s emotional states?

  • Did you experience big or little trauma as a kid?

  • Do you struggle to control your reactivity to triggers?

  • Some of those in the functional medicine world will also throw in there, have you been exposed to mold, chemicals or other toxins?

Now if someone asked you, “does any of this sound like you?”, if you experience chronic conditions it  would be easy to say yes, that is definitely me. By saying yes to these questions, it would indicate to them that you have a “dysregulated nervous system.” 

A dysregulated nervous system, according to google, is when your nervous system is continually exposed to stress and stays in a state of high alert. This causes your nervous system to not perform its roles efficiently, which may result in numerous symptoms such as anxiety or burnout, as well as various types of chronic pain or illness. 

It also states that a regulated nervous system is crucial for optimal health. It ensures that our body can adapt to the changes in our environment and maintain a state of homeostasis. 

Now a typical protocol for a “dysregulated nervous system” includes things that “activate the parasympathetic nervous system” and put the body into “rest and digest” mode. Just activate this branch of your nervous system and all your problems will go away. 

Things like acupuncture, gratitude, cold water therapy, breathwork, massage, relaxing music, grounding, visualization, vagus nerve stimulation, laugh therapy, etc. are all recommended. Even some go into recommending CBD and  similar types of supplements.

If you have done all these things and are wondering why you still are experiencing symptoms, there is a reason why. There is a major piece missing to this and if you have listened to me long enough, you will know what that missing piece is…. the subconscious. 


Now let’s talk about what is really happening in your body in regards to your nervous system and debunk all of this bs that you are being told.

I’m first going to start with a simple lesson on your biology, specifically your survival response. 

Your subconscious, aka autonomic nervous system, is in charge of your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. 

Your sympathetic nervous system is known as your stress response. When it gets a message from your subconscious that feels unsafe, it prepares the body for action to provide us with great power to fend off or flee danger. This response is a self protective response, which was turned on when cavemen encountered beasts and were threatened with survival. Today, this response can turn on when we hear a cell phone ring or when a car stops short on the highway.

When the stress response turns on, there are many physiological responses that can take place. Your breathing rate increases, heart beats faster, chest pain can occur, blood is diverted to major muscle groups and flows away from vital systems like the digestive tract, blood rushes to the extremities, which can cause sweating and clamminess, muscle tightness can occur, pupils may dilate, vision may be lost, you may relive bad memories, too much oxygen and too little carbon dioxide in the blood can cause dizziness and feelings of lightheadedness and you can feel stressed and in danger. Wow, that is a lot, right?! This is an innate response designed to protect you from immediate harm.


The parasympathetic nervous system complements the sympathetic nervous system by regulating visceral organs and muscle contractions, thus permitting us to rest and digest after a phase of stress. We are under the control of the parasympathetic system every time we fully rest, sleep and recover. 


So knowing just these basics, let's go back to the “nervous system dysregulated” idea. If your nervous system is biologically designed to respond to the messages from your subconscious, then is there really something wrong with your nervous system? 

If it's being told that a tiger is chasing you and you're in fear for your life and it responds accordingly, isn’t it doing its job? When the tiger goes away and it feels safe and it moves into rest and digest mode, it's doing its job. If the tiger never goes away, then it's doing its job of staying on high alert. 

This isn’t a dysfunction of your nervous system. It's not dysregulated. It's actually doing exactly what it's supposed to do. But…..we were also not designed to be in this constant state of hypervigilance. This is how we can end up with chronic symptoms. 

Chronic conditions indicate that you are bouncing back and forth from the sympathetic to parasympathetic due to unconscious stress, which prevents your body from completing the healing process and coming back into homeostasis. 

There is a very big piece that is missing in this idea that your nervous system is dysregulated. The root issue,  what is causing it to stay in a heightened state to begin with, isn't being addressed. 

Our brains can get stuck in operating from this stress response when exposed to unresolved traumas. The subconscious patterns that we have taken on from our childhood experiences continue to play out in our lives as we get older. In addition, we are continually programmed throughout our lives that feed these patterns. 

So if a person is always in a hypervigilant state, constantly over activating the sympathetic nervous system, then we need to dig into what is causing that. While everyone thinks that this is everyday stress, it's way deeper than that. Your stress and how you respond to life is based on your perception, which is based on your subconscious patterns that you have been programmed with since childhood. 

You can’t address these subconscious patterns through cold water plunges and vagus nerve techniques. 

Your nervous system only cares if you are safe or unsafe. If it gets a message that it is not safe, it is going to respond accordingly. We can’t get mad at our bodies for doing that. When I say safe, I don’t just mean physically. Because honestly, most of the time this is about being emotionally safe. 

If you have chronic conditions, there is a lack of safety coming from somewhere unconsciously. And to those of you that say you had a great childhood, you are no exception. A lack of emotional safety can come from many places that we often don’t see consciously. Living in a home with perfectionist parents can make you feel unsafe because you fear failing. Not being able to trust yourself because you had controlling parents is going to send a message of lack of safety. Not being able to speak up due to fear of what may happen will send a message of fear to your body. It doesn’t matter if these happened 20 years ago. These patterns you are continuing to operate from as an adult until you change them. Telling yourself over and over that you are safe isn’t going to be the solution either. You have to dig into those patterns and do the real work to let these patterns go. 

Your chronic symptoms are all areas that your body is trying to communicate to you that it needs you to step into your power. When you step into your power, there will no longer be this constant feeling that there is a threat and your body will no longer need to adapt. This is why anxiety and chronic conditions go hand in hand and why I say that anxiety is the glue to symptoms not going away. 

When you are not able to step into your power, and fear can easily take over your mind, your body has to continually cover for you. This isn’t a defect within your body, this is survival. Your body is adapting due to your subconscious patterns that you are operating from. 


Because the body and brain don't know the difference between reality and imagination, just thinking about something can cause your sympathetic nervous system to be activated. So for all of you that project bad things happening in the future, take note! Every single student that we work with comes in with lots of fear regarding healing and their symptoms. When I was sick I was the same way. My days consisted of me thinking and ruminating over my symptoms. This in itself will keep you stuck because these kinds of thoughts are sending a message to your nervous system to be on alert and it is acting accordingly. Is it a surprise that we are experiencing chronic anxiety and symptoms that come and go if this is what we are sending to our bodies?

So your nervous system isn’t dysregulated, it is operating exactly how it is designed.

You don't need to regulate your nervous system because your body is constantly working to regulate and maintain homeostasis.  It's up to you to change the messages that your body is getting so your body can complete the healing process. 


I want to talk about the “dysregulated nervous system” label for a minute. I mean when we have many symptoms, we already have enough labels as it is, do we really need another one? This label continues to feed the patterns that those that have chronic conditions already have about needing to fix themselves and that there is something wrong with them. 

How many of us want a label and then when we get a label we realize that it really doesn’t make anything better? In fact, we start to take on identities to these labels and so many more patterns are created just because of them. How we speak to ourselves and others is of utmost importance.

When you are blaming symptoms on a dysregulated nervous system, what message are you sending your body? And if you're a practitioner, what message are you sending to your clients?

How about we let go of the labels and instead focus on the root issue, our subconscious patterns? The patterns that we carry with us were not consciously chosen by us. It was all done unconsciously and frankly back to survival. There is no one to blame for the patterns that you are operating from today. But it is up to you to change them if you want your life and health to change.


Lastly, I wanted to talk about the recommendations that are given to “activate” the parasympathetic nervous system. Number one - you don’t need to activate it, your body knows how to do that and IS doing it. When it stops getting messages of threat from your subconscious, it will be able to stay in that mode for longer periods of time. 

Breathwork, stress reduction, cold plunging, relaxation, eating nutrient dense foods, and mineral balancing are all great things to do. They are supportive of general health, but they won't address the subconscious patterns that are blocking you from living your best life and having your best health. 

These are quick fixes that seem fairly easy. We are wired for quick fixes. They are more appealing to us because we want resolution now and are really not taught that healing is a journey and a process, not an overnight, pill solution. 

So, stop saying you’re dysregulated! This is simply not true and is a disempowering label. 

Your nervous system is doing exactly what it is designed to do based on the messages it's getting from your subconscious. It is acting exactly how it is designed biologically for survival. 

It responds to feeling safe or unsafe from a conscious and subconscious level. You are in charge of those messages. 

The good news is that those patterns are the root cause and they can be changed! This is root cause healing!

Healing begins when we:

  1. Understand our body rather than looking for ways in which it’s failing us.

  2. Take responsibility for the messages we are sending to our nervous system. 

No amount of nervous system regulation or fancy biohacking tools can be a replacement for resolving the unconscious stress patterns in your life. Your symptoms are simply a reflection of how you're perceiving your external reality.


We get it, you're desperate to have your illness be a thing of the past, not something that defines your days. But trying to heal WITHOUT a custom plan is costing you precious time, money and energy!

You are unique, your symptoms are connected to very specific patterns within your subconscious.

Without a plan unique to you, you will continue struggling and miss out on the life you deserve to be living! To help you get started on your long-lasting healing journey, we would love to provide you with a healing plan that is unique to you. Get your custom healing plan today!

You can also Download my free healing guide, “Why Can’t I Heal” where you will learn the 5 reasons that you haven't healed despite everything you've tried. These are the missing pieces to your healing and the key to resolving your symptoms for good.

Jenny Peterson is the founder and CEO of Mind Body Rewire (MBR). She teaches those that are overwhelmed with trying to heal chronic symptoms how to simplify their healing by focusing on just one place, the subconscious mind. Learn more about MBR here.


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