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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Zink

Understanding Yourself in Dorsal Vagal State

In this video, Polyvagal Therapist Danielle Zink, LMHC, helps you explore your own dorsal vagal in more detail so you understand what's happening for you when you're in this state.

What happens when we're in dorsal vagal is we are so overwhelmed with stimulus. Think about a week where you just had one stressful event after another. You get to the end of the week and you just collapse. You feel numb, you feel disconnected, you feel isolated, you do not have any energy.

Think about what thoughts, what feelings and what behaviors do you have when you are in this state? How are you showing up? How would you describe yourself when you're in this shutdown state? How would you describe the world when you are in this state? The idea is that by understanding where you are in these states, we can use tools and strategies to help move us up towards that ventral vagal.

All of these other parts of your nervous system, the dorsal vagal, the sympathetic or shutdown, and our fight and flight, they're not bad. We need them or we would die. We all move through them at various points throughout the day. It's when we get stuck in these patterns or we are reacting from these patterns, trying to solve problems that it's not super beneficial for us. When we're in these lower states, our prefrontal cortex doesn't work as well, so our ability to plan, be creative, to come up with solutions is really limited. That's one of the reasons why we want to learn our nervous system and understand how we can help ourselves be rooted in that ventral vagal state.

Watch the whole video for more detail

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