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BIOptimizers - Awesome Health Podcast

031: Avoiding Burn Out Through The Nervous System with Matt Gallant

Oct 18, 2019


More Awesome Health With Matt Gallant

We start by talking about a burnout experience I had a few years ago, and how I recovered. In essence, we're talking about managing your nervous system. Doing so is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health and well-being.

There are phases of this experience which Matt details on this show. The first is fight, flight or freeze. The next is impaired decision-making ability and the final phase is mental and physical burn out.


Matt shares his experience with burn out and then goes on to explain his current strategy for avoiding a nervous system meltdown.

To understand his strategy it's important to first understand some basics about the nervous system. Your nervous system is divided into two parts: the sympathetic (this is where the fight, flight or freeze system comes from) and the parasympathetic (this is where all the healing happens within your body).

Going more in-depth, in most instances exercise puts your body into fight or flight mode. This includes things like lifting and running. The exercises that are healing for your body are tai chi and yoga, they activate your parasympathetic nervous system. When you're breathing deep and slowly that activates your parasympathetic nervous system, when your breathing is more rapid your sympathetic nervous system is engaged and you go into fight, flight or freeze mode.

Personally, I've been doing breath work for 20 years including meditation. Breathing can change your brain state, belly breathing is a necessary part of this. By allowing your belly to come out with your breath your lungs will open up so you can get fuller and deeper breaths. I start every day by doing a few quick exhales and then long and slow inhales. I do the 10-10-10-10 process which is 10 seconds in, 10 seconds hold and 10 seconds exhale and then 10 seconds with no breath. This is also called box breathing and you can start with just a few seconds (like 4 or 5) and work your way up to 10.

Healing The Body to Avoid Burn Out

Next, we talk about brain waves and neural feedback. Neural feedback is brain measuring feedback system that feedbacks to you what is happening. It's like a GPS system that trains your brain to hit different states. These different states fall in one of 5 categories, three of which are healing and two of which are fight/flight/freeze.

The healing states are alpha which is when you are relaxed but alert, then there is theta which is even slower and deeper than alpha. And the last of these three is delta - that is the state we are in when we are sleeping.

On the fight, flight or freeze side, the two states are beta and gamma. Beta is when you are engaged and focused and thinking. Anxiety looks like too high levels of beta. Gamma is a very high spiritual state, it is very powerful and intense but there is a cost to it.

We also discuss dopamine levels and blue light from social media and technology, before we move into how to know we are overstimulated and heading towards burn out. One of the big X factors in avoiding burn out is resilience, there is a physical component to this. Matt has worked to increase his through neural feedback and also cleaning out his limbic system. (The limbic system is one component of our nervous systems, it is responsible for our emotions).

He has cleaned out his limbic system by facing and healing old emotional wounds. Take for example the person who was bitten by a dog and doesn't like them, even though it's been 40 years since they were bitten. They haven't healed that experience and their limbic system will respond to dogs as if they were about to relive that old experience of being bitten.

One way to work on these old emotional wounds and put your nervous system in a more relaxed state is through EFT (the Emotional Freedom Technique), it is also known as tapping. EFT immediately starts to shift your nervous system into parasympathetic. When you tap the specific points in EFT your nervous system shifts over into a parasympathetic state. 

You can also do neural feedback, meditation and practicing gratitude. Pay attention to how often you laugh - if you are laughing you are probably in parasympathetic mode.

Another piece of avoiding burn out is macro and micro recovery. In general, the harder you want to drive the harder you need to focus on recovery. If you want to drive your body like a race car then you need a really good pit crew and really high-quality components to put your car back together, or you will crash and burn!

There are some supplements you can take to help with this. For the fight, flight or freeze, things like coffee, THC, caffeine, etc would fall under this category. But you can stack parasympathetic supplements with sympathetic supplements to counterbalance their effect. Matt talks about which he likes best and why, plus which essential oil has been shown to increase alpha brain waves.

You'll also hear how we both healed ourselves with magnesium and why floating was part of that! It's all here on episode 31 of Awesome Health Podcast with Matt Gallant.


Episode Resources

Magnesium Breakthrough
Oura ring
Info on EFT
The Powerful Engagement, by James E. Loehr and Tony Schwartz
PDF on Flight, Fight or Freeze
Masszymes (code cheat10)