What To Do When Your Partner Freezes
If you were looking into ways to stimulate the vagus nerve, it’s probably because your partner freezes due to the dorsal vagal system. As the vagus has two branches, dorsal and ventral, the one responsible for freezing is the dorsal or back vagus. We share this primitive nerve with all animals, and it goes down our spine, impacting our lungs, heart, and stomach.
Usually, the dorsal vagus has a positive function when it helps our body pendulate between arousal and relaxation. Yet, when the sympathetic system gets too aroused, the dorsal vagus nerve might shut down, causing the entire system going into freeze. This usually occurs in cases of trauma and shame.
When taking into consideration anxiety, stress, and depression, is it possible for your partner to become more resilient? There are several techniques you can practice the next time your partner freezes.
The Freeze State
If your partner is in the ‘freeze’ state, it means they went to the most primitive pattern, also known as the emergency state. If your partner is going through this state, it means they feel hopeless and are not able to find their way out. They will probably feel depressed, conserve their energy, dissociate, feel overwhelmed and confused. When experiencing the ‘freeze’ state, the person’s insulin activity and fuel storage will grow and their pain thresholds will grow as well.
When they are in this stressed state which can also accumulate a lot of anxiety, it’s incredibly challenging to be curious or even empathetic. Moreover, they might struggle to break the prefrontal cortex, meaning they will not be able to function, communicate, guide, or coordinate the functions of different parts of their brain efficiently. Simply put, when a person freezes, they are not able to regulate their attention and focus.
If this is something that your partner is going through. You are probably curious to learn techniques that might help them deal with it.
#1 Deep Breathing
When anything is making us feel depressed, anxious, scared, or stressed, the simplest yet efficient technique is to focus on deep breathing. If your partner is struggling with freezing, advise them to start practicing deep breathing more. Breathing slowly and deeply will activate their vagus nerve. And send messages to the brain that will help them lower the blood pressure and heart rate.
The best way to practice it is by turning it into a daily routine. This way the person will think of it as a solution more often when in this type of ‘emergency’ situation. They can practice it early in the morning before work or in the evening before going to sleep.
This might not be the first thing that will come to mind when thinking about things your partner can do when struggling with freezing yet singing, humming or chanting can all successfully increase the heart rate variability. With the higher heart rate variability or HRV, the rate of morbidity and mortality will decrease and well-being and quality of life will significantly improve.
If you wish to help your partner even more, why not help him with this fun technique? By turning it into an interesting activity for couples, they will no longer be focused on solving their ‘freezing’ situation. Instead, they will be busy having a great time with you!
You already know that regular exercise leads to many health benefits, so it’s not surprising that it also helps with the vagus nerve. Physical activity is good for your brain’s cognitive faculties, mental health, and gut flow. The reason why there are so many benefits from exercising is that it stimulates the vagus nerve.
When it comes to the types of exercises a person can do, it really depends on preferences. Maybe your partner loves jogging, so you can go with them to a nearby park for a morning jog. If they prefer going to the gym, why not surprise them with a paid subscription to the closest gym? Of course, if none of these activities is something you’d like to do with your partner, you can always offer your unconditional moral support.
Your partner freezing is definitely not entertaining for you nor them, however, there are plenty of other things that make you both happy in this world, right? Think of laughing as a natural immune booster. Similar to singing, it increases heart rate variability. So if your partner doesn’t like singing, laughing will surely be something they might be more interested in.
Think about your favorite comedy movies and organize a movie night at home. Or, take them to a stand-up comedy event to laugh at jokes with a bigger audience. They might have a friend who is incredibly funny and entertains everyone around them. Set up dinner at home or you invite them to a barbeque. So your partner can have a great time and increase their heart rate variability without even thinking about it.
#5 Cold Exposure
Being exposed to cold temperatures also helps with freezing in a way it increases the rest and digest response, however, be careful with this one. This doesn’t mean you should sleep with an open window in the middle of the winter or walk around with short sleeves when it’s snowing. It simply means that your partner can have a cold shower before going to bed, drink cold beverages during the day and spend more time outside if the temperatures are low. Introducing cold to your body helps also those who have sleep issues.
So, your partner might need to think about changing their cup of coffee for a cold version of it. Or doing outdoor activities instead of staying at home or going to the gym.
In Final Words
If your partner is experiencing freezing and you weren’t sure how to provide him with the support he needs. This article offered you several efficient techniques that might help in this situation. However, it’s always recommended to talk to a professional as they will treat anxiety, stress, or depression better than these tools we have provided here. Be there for them and show them you understand what they are going through.
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