Why Do I Feel on Edge? Understanding Polyvagal Theory

Taming our nervous system to feel safe:Person curled up into ball on ground. If you're wondering " why am i so on edge" understanding polyvagal theory can help. You don't need to be an expert to understand emotions. Call now and begin anxiety treatment, trauma therapy, collaborative assessment, or for group support our anxiety group therapy in Pennsylvania!

The pandemic has been hard on us for a lot of reasons. Aside from the isolation and economic impacts, science tells us that part of the reason we feel so on edge right now is that our nervous systems have been working overtime. Evolution crafted a remarkable nervous system that is tuned to danger signals from our environment. Our nervous system is constantly scanning input from our senses without our knowing it. This is an important survival strategy since, to be caught unaware by a predator could be catastrophic. We call this constant, unconscious scanning “neuroception.” We are not aware that our nervous system is doing this, it happens automatically in the background. 

A little background on the nervous system:

When our nervous system detects a threat signal, it cues the sympathetic nervous system into action. This system releases stress hormones that tell our bodies to get ready for action. Breathing quickens along with heart rate, while digestion slows. Our ears tune in to the very low and very high frequencies associated with predators and attacks. All of this culminates in the Fight or Flight response; we either fight the threat or flee from it. Ideally, these episodes are brief, and our nervous system gets a chance to return to a Ventral Vagal state in which we feel safe and connected to our peers. We literally get to “rest and digest” as our nervous system comes back to baseline.

But Why Do am I So On Edge Now?

With constant signals of danger all around us, our nervous system is in a constant state of low-level arousal. We never fully get to “rest and digest” or let our guard down. That’s why so many of us complain of sleep problems right now. It’s also why we are turning to substances to help us numb our nervous system.

So What do we do about it?Woman in all black on busy street. Needing support is ok. Especially if you're wondering why do I feel on edge, all the time! Anxiety treatment, collaborative assessment, trauma therapy, and our anxiety support group in Pennsylvania can help. Call now!

Here is the remarkable thing about our nervous system. Although most of its activity is automatic, we do have ways of influencing it and nudging it in the right direction. Here are some suggestions for feeling safe:

  • We can calm our nervous system by breathing deeply and grounding ourselves at the moment. The autonomic nervous system responds to cues of relaxation, so breathing deeply and slowing our heart rate can ease our tension.
  • Keeping a journal of positive experiences can help. When you notice a glimmer, really take it in. Pause for a moment, breathe, and really experience it.
  • We can also notice the “glimmers,” moments when we experience pleasure and safety. In terms of biological survival, these moments are less critical than noticing threats so it makes sense that our nervous system would prioritize threats over good feelings, but we can tip the scales the other way by actively noticing the glimmers.  
  • Doing something in nature can help us reset our nervous system. Take the dog for a walk or smell some flowers.
  • Connect with friends and allow them to help you co-regulate. Our nervous system is very sensitive to the arousal levels of other nervous systems. Find something relaxing to do with people who make you feel safe. Your nervous system will thank you.

Try Dr. Devera’s guided meditation located here, or one of our favorite coping skills listed here.

Need Support? Learn about Individual Anxiety Treatment or our Anxiety Group!

Man on rock looking out into foggy valley. Are you wondering " why am I So on edge", or " why do I feel on edge". Our therapists can help you find the answer. Call now and begin understanding polyvagal theory. Begin online therapy in Pennsylvania!

There can be many roots to why you’re feeling so on edge. We have services that can help you. Whether that is anxiety treatment, trauma therapy, collaborative assessment, or a group, we can help. Our caring online therapists specialize in psychotherapy, collaborative assessmentsupervision, and consultation.  To start your counseling journey, follow these simple steps:

  1. Contact Edward Jenny & Associates
  2. Meet with one of our expert online therapists
  3. Feel free to explore their profiles by following these links:
  4. Begin understanding and connecting with your anxiety in a group setting.

Other Counseling Services at Edward Jenny & Associates

Sometimes all we need is community and people to help us with our mental health. Group therapy and an anxiety support group can help. We do this in order to build helping coping tools for the future. However, if you’re looking for additional services at our Kennett Square counseling center, we can help you. Other mental health services Edward Jenny & Associates provides include psychotherapy for families, adolescents, college students, and adultsin-person and telehealth collaborative assessmentsupervision, and consultation, PTSD treatment, and trauma therapy. When you’re ready, reach out!

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