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Jessica Maguire

Heal Your Nervous System | Jessica Maguire

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When you change your nervous system, you change your life.

But where do you even BEGIN when you’re under a mountain of stress? Is it possible to rewire yourself for calm when you’ve spent years steeped in cortisol? And can simple, daily actions really make a difference?

To explore these critical questions, I’m joined by Jessica Maguire, an expert in neurophysiology and the founder of Nervous System School.

Jessica’s science-backed techniques for nervous system repair — particularly her groundbreaking work with the vagus nerve — are fundamentally changing the way that people regulate stress, build resilience and create optimum health.

Press play to discover: the surprisingly critical role of the vagus nerve in how you feel day to day, the warning signs of a dysregulated nervous system, simple but effective strategies to combat burnout, how gut health deeply influences your mental state, the three main ingredients required for remarkable health, why it’s crucial to view the brain-body system as a holistic unit, and the daily routine she follows to nurture and heal her nervous system.

If you’re seeking methods to manage stress, improve your mood, and enhance your overall health, or if you’re simply curious about the profound impact your nervous system has on your life, then press play now… this episode is for you.

About Jessica Maguire

Jessica Maguire is the founder of Nervous System School. She holds a Bachelor of Health Science and a Master of Physiotherapy. Her postgraduate study includes the fields of neuroscience, neuroplasticity, the Polyvagal theory and transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation.

As a TEDx speaker, lecturer and internationally published author, she believes that knowledge is power. Jessica teaches a long-term, sustainable, profoundly transformative methodology of nervous system repair, empowering students to step into the driver’s seat of their own health and well-being. Today, her teachings have impacted the lives of over 16,000 students worldwide.

In this episode we chat about:

  • The moment when she realized that nervous system repair was crucial for peak health (2:41)
  • The surprisingly critical role that the vagus nerve plays in your body (04:22)
  • Why play is an amazing hack for a healthy nervous system (09:27)
  • The warning signs that indicate a dysregulated nervous system (12:32)
  • Do THIS to combat burnout (19:14)
  • How poor gut health can lead to depression and anxiety (26:17)
  • The three main ingredients to achieve remarkable health (28:09)
  • Why it’s so important to look at the brain-body system as a whole (33:25)
  • The #1 book she wishes was in every school curriculum (35:54)
  • The daily routine that nurtures and heals her nervous system (36:29)
  • The mind blowing link between breastfeeding and babies’ nervous system (39:19)
  • What you may not know about “mothering” and the collective regulation of our nervous systems (41:17)
  • Why it’s crucial to protect pregnant women’s peace of mind (45:52)

Episode resources:

  • SheLaunch (join here)
  • Mastering Your Mean Girl by Melissa Ambrosini (book)
  • Open Wide by Melissa Ambrosini (book)
  • Comparisonitis by Melissa Ambrosini (book)
  • Time Magic by Melissa Ambrosini and Nick Broadhurst (book)
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (book)
  • Nervous System School (website)
  • Jessica Maguire (Instagram)
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The following transcript has been automatically generated and not checked for accuracy.

Melissa: [00:00:00] In episode 595 with Jessica Maguire, we are talking all about the vagus nerve and the nervous system and how to regulate your nervous system. Plus so much more. Welcome to the Melissa Ambrosini show. I’m your host, Melissa, best selling author of Mastering Your Mean Girl, Open Wide, Comparisonitis, And I’m here to remind you that love is sexy, healthy is liberating, and wealthy isn’t a dirty word.

Each week I’ll be getting up close and personal with thought leaders from around the globe, as well as your weekly dose of motivation so that you can create epic change in your own life and become the best version of yourself possible. Are you ready beautiful? Hey, beautiful, and welcome back to the show.

I’m so excited about this episode because we have never dove deep into the vagus nerve or nervous system. And [00:01:00] today we are doing that. And for those of you that have never heard of Jessica, she is the founder of Nervous System School. She holds a bachelor of health science and a master of physiotherapy.

Now her postgraduate studies. Study includes the field of neuroscience, neuroplasticity, the polyvagal theory, and vagus nerve stimulation. Now she is a TEDx speaker, lecturer, and internationally published author, and she believes that knowledge is power. I totally agree. She teaches a long term, sustainable, profoundly transformative methodology of nervous system repair, empowering her students to step into the driver’s seat of their own health and wellbeing.

Today, her teachings have impacted the lives of over 16, 000 students worldwide. And for everything that we mention in today’s episode, you can check out in the show notes, and that’s over at melissarambrosini. com forward slash 595. Now, without further ado, let’s dive in.[00:02:00] 

Jessica, welcome to the show. I’m so excited to have you here. But before we dive in, can you tell us what you had for breakfast this morning? 

Jessica: I had some bagels with cottage cheese. It’s been my staple through the cooler months in the morning. 

Melissa: Yeah, before we started recording, we were talking about how cold it is right now.

I am not a cold person. I know some people love it. I know they love the snow. I don’t enjoy it. I am a lizard. Give me the sun and give me a warm little spot and I am happy. I hear you. Yes, I’m the same. Now, hun, how did you get into this work? Can you take us back and tell us how this all started for you?

Jessica: Sure. My background is I’m a physiotherapist and I worked for a number of years in my own practice. And when you work alone, you really need to become quite [00:03:00] resourceful and independent with how you treat your patients. And one of the challenges was to explain to my patients who had a lot of chronic symptoms Like chronic pain, how the brain was involved, because for a lot of them, the message had been, well, if the brain’s involved, then your symptoms must all be in your head.

So I was looking for really empowering ways to help my patients understand this connection between their brain and their body, but also, you know, how things like the language, beliefs and thoughts we have influence our body as well. So you know, it’s a two way connection. And so. After having a series of years of patients with persistent pain, did some postgraduate study that was really looking at the intricacies of this.

And then I started putting together workshops on the vagus nerve for my patients, which then grew to a masterclass [00:04:00] online. Then our program, and that was back in 2018, and we’ve now had 16, 000 students come through our training. So it grew to be a lot bigger than I imagined, but it was always the work I wanted to get into was empowering people to.

really step into the driver’s seat of their own nervous system and health. 

Melissa: Now, some people might be like, what is the vagus nerve? So my husband, Nick is. a health guru, a biohacking nerd, and he has been into this stuff for years, actually most of his life. Like his dad was a meditator. His dad was doing like all sorts of fasts and water fasts and all of these amazing things when Nick was growing up.

So he’s been exposed to the wellness and spirituality world his whole life. Now, he, years ago, started talking about the vagus nerve and he made me up an essential oil blend. And [00:05:00] he was like, here babe, rub this on your vagus nerve here and here and just do it before you eat. And I was like, okay, cool. I did as I was told.

Now, I’m sure there is so much more that we can be doing to support our vagus nerve. So can you first tell us what is the vagus nerve? Why is it so important? And then how can we support it? 

Jessica: Yes, I’d love to. If we look at the anatomy of the vagus nerve, it really helps us understand its function. If you run your hand down the back of your head, where you have that bony ridge, and you were to go in from there, you’d have your brain stem, and that’s where it starts.

And then you have branches that come to the heart and the lungs. So that’s involved in slowing down our physiology, slowing down or changing our breathing rate as well. And then the other branch we have comes right down to our lower abdomen. And that has a role in digestion as well. [00:06:00] But there’s also other branches that run from the heart to the face.

So to do with communication and speech. What’s really interesting if we look at that anatomy is that it’s not really one nerve. It’s actually a series of different connections, different systems. And so the systems, if we think running from the brainstem to the heart and lungs. We can think of like a break that slows down our physiology, helps when we’re anxious.

It’s basically how we cope with and recover from stress. In the branches coming down to, right down to the lower belly, the vagus nerve is touching every organ in our gut. And so it’s playing a major role in keeping homeostasis or balance between our systems, so physical health. And then it also has a relational component.

So the social engagement system that I was speaking about really controls how we’re sending messages with our communication and [00:07:00] how we’re picking that up from other people. And that’s changing our physiology as well. So we often think that, you know, our nervous system is just inside us. It’s not really, you know, influenced by other people.

But if we look at the empirical research, particularly with later sheep. We’re really seeing that a leader will have, be like a nerve center and that the people that work for them will start to become synchronized with their heart rate variability. So we are so much more interconnected than what we probably are led to believe with how we’ve partitioned science to be separate systems, separate bodies.

I think that’s why the vagus nerve is so interesting because It’s not just this one dimensional aspect. It’s not one nerve. It’s a series of all these different connections that are impacting on so many areas of our lives. 

Melissa: I always say that the mother is the heartbeat of the home [00:08:00] and the mother’s nervous system dictates the nervous system of the home.

Their energy literally dictates everyone else’s energy. That’s proving it. 

Jessica: Definitely. I mean, and this is like, not just. The energy, but even the brain development of babies, like I know we both have young daughters and can probably really understand what the struggle of work and motherhood can be sometimes.

You know, it takes a lot of work to sometimes regulate your own emotions when there’s lots going on. But that co regulation that a parent can provide to a baby, because babies can’t self regulate They literally are dependent on the caregiver’s nervous system to shape their own. That’s what is setting up the neural networks for the rest of their life for self regulation and attachment.

How they connect with other people and how they’ll cope with stress growing up. And so it seems like, you know, we see it at the moment, but if [00:09:00] we can take the time to nurture our own nervous systems as mothers. the future that we’re setting up for children. And I mean, you know, there’s also, fathers have some responsibility here, too, but also it’s mostly, I understand the mothers.

It’s nervous systems that are impacting on the home for sure. 

Melissa: One thousand percent. I talk about this all the time, I’m like, my nervous system, I need to take care of my nervous system. And I want to talk about that in a minute, but let’s just go back to the vagus nerve. What else can we do to support that vagus nerve?

Jessica: So I think what often I hear from students that we work with is that there is this sense of independence and that we need to be really. Stoic or resilient on our own, but I think all those times when we are facing challenges, I mean, you must say this as well with the people that you coach that when we need to grow, when we need to step outside our comfort [00:10:00] zone, this is when we still need co regulators.

We need people who are going to support us, believe in us. We need communities. We need that sense of we belong to something to help support us. And. I think there’s a lot we think that it’s up to us to do on our own to take care of it, but I would say that the most supportive thing we can do is to connect with other people who are in a regulated state.

And we in turn will start to shift into a state of regulation. That is a big part of it, but also I think one thing we’ve been talking about with our students lately is this, we maybe have lost a bit of a sense of play. Um, and connecting with things like music. And so the topic we spoke about last week was how much we take in information and we’re very intellectual, but how we connect back to play, being in our bodies and music and the [00:11:00] importance of those things from a bottom up perspective.

So if we think about the vagus nerve, 80 percent of its communication runs from the body up to the brain. So the more that we can come and be in our body. And when we allow this energy in that mobilizes us, you know, so it can be play where we see you excitement and energy coming in or music. What that does is we then need to bring the vagus nerve in, in a way that keeps that energy contained.

So it’s a little bit like going to the gym and strengthening it. If you think about riding a bicycle downhill, how you keep a little bit of the brake engaged with your finger. That’s what the vagus nerve’s doing to us all the time. So when we bring in that mobilizing energy in a way that feels safe, fun, and we’re connected with other people, it’s really like working out the vagus nerve.

So I would really encourage people to think about what play feels like to them. I mean, it can be, it could be yoga, it could be [00:12:00] dance, it could be going to a comedy show, it could be hanging out with friends. Often it involves other people. 

Melissa: I love that. So beautiful. Beautiful. So, what I like to do is have a list in my phone of all the things that apply to me, that bring me joy.

And then I try and do one of those things off that list every single day. If you do more, great, but like I just try and do one thing. For me, dancing and music is, it’s so good. So okay, that’s the vagus nerve. I personally know what it feels like to have a fried nervous system, and I want to talk about the nervous system and dive deep.

I have felt completely out of whack, and I’m sure so many people listening to this can relate to that. I’m so interested because you teach a long term, sustainable, profoundly transformative methodology of nervous system repair. The first time I feel like I really felt this was after giving birth, like I actually probably didn’t realize how much my nervous system [00:13:00] needed taking care of.

Cause I was just like so excited to be a new mom. I think I was just like burning, you know? So first up, what is the nervous system and what does it do? How do you know if yours is dysregulated? What might that look like? What might that feel like? And how can we fix this? 

Jessica: Hmm. Such a great question. We hear a lot about the nervous system now.

And when we’re talking about it in terms of the vagus nerve and stress, what we’re really looking at is the autonomic nervous system. Okay. So, we used to petition all these systems up and I don’t think it’s been super helpful because we’re now going, well, is this a brain thing or a body thing? Who do I see?

Someone from my, you know, what’s going on here or what’s going on down here? And often it all goes hand in hand. when we look at the central nervous system. That was always referring to the brain and the spinal cord. And then we sort of said, well, the autonomic nervous system is separate to that, but it’s not [00:14:00] really, because when we look at what, where the vagus nerve, it’s anatomy is, it’s attaching right through the brain, and then it’s got connections going up into higher part that are involved with our cognition and our emotion, so it doesn’t really make sense to petition it, but.

The autonomic nervous system is made up of what we just spoke about with the vagus nerve. And we can think of those fibers running to our heart being like the brakes that slow us down. That part of it that runs to our heart is myelinated. So it has like this electrical coating around it, if you imagine, that makes the impulse travel really accurately and it’s fine tuned.

Now, this correlates really closely to high performance because my ability to release that break and let this energy in to rise to challenges, face demands, to step into the face of things that are hard is [00:15:00] directly related to that. And then to be able to re engage that break. when that challenge is over and calm back down again is really important, obviously, for energy conservation.

And then the other part of the vagus nerve that runs down to our belly, it’s more primitive and it’s not myelinated. So it also acts as a brake, but it’s a little bit like pulling on the handbrake in the car. So when that happens, if we’re stressed, We might feel ourselves move into a state of hypoarousal and there’s a collapse in our energy.

And so for a lot of people in the short term, this might feel like where we freeze in the face of challenges, or we feel our body actually collapse, you know, our spine collapses, our head drops and we feel that hopelessness, you know, like it’s no use, it’s never going to work out, my situation is impossible to fix.

So they’re the parts that slow us down that we used [00:16:00] to think of. as the parasympathetic or rest and digest. But now we know there’s actually two parts to the slowing down part. And then the other part, which people are probably more familiar with, is the fight or flight part of our nervous system, which is the sympathetic nervous system.

And this is our energy mobilizing system. So for that, people will probably notice, they feel that sense of urgency and need to go faster. And again, you know, stress isn’t necessarily bad for us, provided we get to recover fully from it. But what tends to happen is if our vagus nerve isn’t working as well as it could, and that break isn’t there to slow us down and fine tune how much mobilizing energy we let come into our system, then we can shift into anxiety.

Anytime we’re going to meet challenges or demands and that as people probably know is makes it really hard to step [00:17:00] into our full potential to do our best work and a lot of the time we might find ourselves too scared to put ourselves out there because of that fear. So we can think of the nervous system as being three states really.

So at the top we could say there’s the mobilizing sympathetic energy. In the middle, we could say there’s the just right. ventral vagal or the regulated state. And down the bottom we could say is that hypo arousal where our energy drops. And none of it’s good or bad. It’s like we move between them. But what tends to happen following chronic and traumatic stress for some people is they get stuck in either the sympathetic and that hyperarousal or the, what we say, the dorsal vagal or the hypo.

And then if we were looking at that last part of your question of how we would know we were dysregulated, for the sympathetic, there’s an ongoing anxiety, restlessness, agitation. we might notice that in our [00:18:00] physical health, we have insomnia, gut issues. Um, it shows up in our relationships because we might be reactive or storm off.

We might find ourselves starting arguments a lot more, you know, in that sort of reactivity. But if we’re down in that dorsal vagal shutdown, this is where we see extreme procrastination. We lose our motivation, you know, we try and use all the willpower and talk ourselves into just getting on with it, but physically it’s really challenging to do that when we’ve got these changes in our physiology.

And I think shame shows up a lot here. Lots of those stories around, this won’t work out for me. I’m just not made out for this kind of thing. And there’ll be a chronic fatigue with that as well. 

Melissa: I have a tendency to go to the former, not the latter, in the past. 

Jessica: Yes. I think a lot of people start there. And then, you know, there’s this ongoing, just keep [00:19:00] going, push, push, push.

And then once that’s exhausted, that sympathetic, if we don’t manage to bring ourselves back to regulation, then we drop down into the collapse, more the drop in energy. And that’s really what we would say burnout is. There’s a loss of the vagus nerve working, we get a drop in the sympathetic energy, and we spend long periods of time in that.

exhaustion as well. 

Melissa: So what can we do on a daily basis? What are all the tools that you have got in your toolkit? Because I’m so passionate about this. I have been at burnout. I have been in hospital. I know what it’s like. It’s not fun. Everything I teach in SheLaunch is about growing your business to have the income and the impact that you desire so that you can have the life that you want without burning out.

You know, that’s a huge piece. I am not for working crazy hours. I want [00:20:00] you to be able to still have the life that you want and not burn yourself out. I teach a lot of these things inside SheLaunched, but I want to know what are all your tools? Give them to us, because I know so many people could really benefit from this.

Jessica: For sure. It all starts out with really being able to build what we say is autonomic awareness. So, if we look at the principles of neuroplasticity, which is how our nervous systems change, the tools that we use need to be specific to what state we’re in. So, we really have different tools for each state.

There’s not unfortunately one tool that we can say, well, just all use this one. If we look at the building that autonomic awareness, it starts with that being able to say in a really embodied way. What sensations, what bodily signals am I noticing that tell me where I’m at in any of those three states at a given time?

So for [00:21:00] instance, if you went more towards the sympathetic, the bodily signal you might notice is, well, my heart, I feel this, you know, going a bit faster. So we might say, well, that could be excitement. That could be joy. But what is it that lets you know that’s anxiety? And we’d say, well, there’s the tightness in the chest.

There’s a feeling of my palms being clammy. And then from that sympathetic state, because it’s energy mobilization, we’re going to really look at, well, what is it that will bring my energy back down to that mid range? And so for some people that will be through movement, you know, we can really feel that discharge of activation, particularly if we’re spending long periods of time sitting with this I mean, it feels like I’ve got all this.

Glucose getting mobilized through my brain body system to deal with the threat and yet I’m sitting here not running away or not fighting something. [00:22:00] So movement through the day I think is one of the most useful things people can do, particularly if we have like for the people that you’re coaching a digital business where we are required to sit all day looking at well how can I bring that in to move more.

And for the people who are down in that, more they’re shut down, and they have more immobilization, movement is also useful in a way that is, how can I energize my system up? If we’re literally in our body, down in this state of, it’s never gonna work out for me. Um, and we try and argue with that story.

Sometimes the fastest thing we can do is say, what’s going to bring some energy into my system right now? And what I would say really comes in this state is that there’s this isolation. So people tend to keep themselves on their own and they don’t reach out for help or connect with others because the story that runs from this [00:23:00] stage.

Is that I’m not worthy of a great business. I’m not lovable. I’m not going to ever have success. I don’t belong. So it’s really like looking at, well, how can I reach out to people? And that might be as simple as, okay, I’m going to go out and work a cafe where there’s lots of people around rather than being at home by myself, feeling Like, I’m a failure.

And that can be enough just saying hello to somebody, having a real connection to bring our system back up a bit more. The ways that we can look at anchoring ourselves in the state of regulation is really thinking about, well, what are the moments where I feel truly connected to myself, to other people and the world at large?

And for a lot of our students, it’s things like the hiking in nature, you know, where we feel that sense of. I really belong. I’m really with other people. And how can [00:24:00] we put that in regularly? Exactly what you said was like something once a day. So it’s really, first of all, having this body awareness to read the signals that tell us where we are first.

Otherwise, we’re kind of just guessing what we need to bring ourselves back to regulation. It’s like going into the wilderness without a map, but if we have a framework of understanding, then we can gently coax ourselves back to that place of in regulation. And I think if we’re looking at this from people listening who have a business and that Finding the ups and downs that come with that, it’s really connecting back to the feeling in a really embodied way of why is this important to me?

Because from a neuroplasticity point of view, our intention is so important as well that can create massive change in our brain and body. 

Melissa: 100%. It’s [00:25:00] one of the first lessons inside SheLaunches, like understanding and uncovering your why. Because when you know why you are doing the things that you’re doing, why you’re working, why you are creating this business or whatever it is, it’s so much easier to not only stay on your path and head towards your goals, but.

To feel purpose driven and to have that passion and that motivation running through your veins. So I am such a big believer in connecting with your why and plastering it all over your office or however you need to remind yourself. constantly be tapping into, why are you doing what you do? Yeah. It’s so important.

Jessica: Yeah, I think so too. And that gives us this greater purpose that’s bigger than our own self because at the end of the day, the nervous system is just trying to protect this sense of self. Um, and the sense of self is dynamic. There [00:26:00] is no fixed sense of that. So if we can say, well, what’s the purpose behind this that isn’t about me?

It enables us to have a shift away from protection to connecting to something larger. 

Melissa: 100%. I totally agree. Is there anything else that we could be doing to regulate our nervous system, like anything that you haven’t spoken about? 

Jessica: I think another big part of it that we’re seeing that’s really important is looking at from a nutrition point of view as well, the gut health.

So we’re seeing the vagus nerve connects directly to our gut microbiome and If we look at the research now, which is really interesting around the health of our gut microbiome and if we have inflammation, how that can then have an effect on our cognition, our mood and our emotional state as well. So for people who are interested in practical ways of doing that, probiotics and [00:27:00] prebiotics that we digest.

Can have such a wonderful impact on the health of our vagus nerve and the gut brain axis. And that two way communication now, you know, we used to think of the gut being so separate, but the actual symptoms of having the vagus nerve. issues with the gut and how that impacts on the brain, but also how we feel.

So those bodily signals in our gut, if we’re having pain, if we’re having discomfort from any issues there, will play a big role in if we’re experiencing things like anxiety and depression as well. Again, this is where we segmented the body and the brain, but now we’re really seeing that close communication.

Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. It’s all connected. It’s all connected. I have a osteo who is very spiritual and it’s not just about working on the body. Like he’s looking at everything that’s going on in the body. And I just love that so much because it’s a whole piece. [00:28:00] You have to look at everything. It’s so important.

It’s not just the body. It’s not just the mind. It’s everything together. So I love that so much. Anything else that we can do for our vagus nerve or nervous system? 

Jessica: I think for most people, the big 90 percenters will be Nutrition, sleep, and exercise. So bringing in movement as we said, but also like, if we’re keeping that as something that’s a regular practice for ourselves, and I think there’s lots of little ways that we can bring things in, but if we’re not targeting those big thing, you know, without sleep, we know that our capacity, our nervous system on that day is going to be less.

It’s helpful really to say on some days where we know that, okay. I didn’t sleep so great last night. Today I may find that I need more support or just to recognize when I’m getting closer to moving into fight or flight or feeling that sense of hopelessness, it may not [00:29:00] actually reflect the true situation.

It is simply on this day, how my nervous system is responding. The biggest pieces are going to always be sleep, nutrition and exercise. Keeping that as something that we can do our best to consistently work on. But I think the other part that we can look at is that for so many of us, our nervous systems respond from what they learnt.

And if there’s things from our past that we, in times when we experience chronical traumatic stress, it can be like we are looking through a lens at what’s happening today in the same way as what happened in the past. And so. This is where it’s useful to cultivate that awareness that we’re speaking about to say, okay, I’m triggered, I really recognize this strong fear.

Is this relating to what’s happening today or [00:30:00] is this coming up from this situation in my past? So for instance, let’s say if we frame it into people listening who might be looking at SheLaunch and they’re looking around the pricing that they set for their own offerings and they’re feeling triggered around the money side of that.

Um, what is it that is coming up from previous times that might be overlaying that? Because I think so, so much of the part when we get triggered, it’s often not really about today. So much of it is from what’s happened in the past. So I think having that time to really reflect back and look in a really, like once we work with the body, like we said, from what we might call bottom up practices of music, movement, play.

nutrition with the gut brain access, all of those things that support the body regulation towards the brain. Then we look at, well, okay, now I’ve moved back to a state where I’m not as triggered. What are the [00:31:00] beliefs that I’ve got that are sustaining these? Like when I’m getting triggered and really putting that down on paper to say, what am I believing?

That’s adding to these layers and influencing my nervous system in what we say is a top down way where our beliefs are driving that physiology to react because so often. The place that we shift between the different states of our nervous system, it’s not in our conscious awareness because it’s in the lower centers of the brain.

And so if we just try and think about this as like, well, I’m going to just be more positive. It’s not really enough to create that change. We need to get down into the parts. that are hidden that we don’t see day to day and really explore those, which sometimes that involves having mentorship, coaching, seeing a therapist, someone that can support us in getting to those deeper layers.

Melissa: One hundred percent. The whole first module in Machine Launch is about [00:32:00] mindset and reprogramming and neuroplasticity and all of this, because it’s so important. I feel like now more than ever, we need to be working on our own. Emotional intelligence. I think it’s being shone so brightly on the people that are emotionally intelligent and the people that need a little bit more work.

And this isn’t about judging or anything like that, but I can really see like, Oh, okay. That person needs a bit more support in that area. And I think the only way we are going to grow in our emotional intelligence is by actually doing the work ourselves. No one can do this work for us. And it takes work, but we’ve got to do it because if we don’t do it now, we’re going to be left behind.

I truly feel like we’re just going to be left behind because so many people are really working on their mindset and really working on their emotional intelligence. And then so many people are still not. I feel like we’ve got to keep up and we’ve got to keep working on it. [00:33:00] And it’s a forever thing. It is a forever thing.

It’s not a once and done. In 10 years, that trigger may come up again. You’re like, wow, I thought I’d resolved that, but it’s still a teeny tiny little bit there. And great, another opportunity for me to go deeper and to look at this. So I just love this so much. And I think it’s so important that we talk about it.

Jessica: Yes, I totally agree. Um, one thing that is important with the vagus nerve and the nervous system is if we can look at this in the times that it’s where we are really stressed, we will be losing the ability to see the bigger picture, to look at it in a place where we might still have perspective. And this is where if we tap into the body, it’s got a different narrative than what we have with the story that we tell with our mind.

But because it’s connecting to our old [00:34:00] memories that live outside conscious awareness, which is down in the lower parts of the brain, that’s where we can have really powerful changes. So, the eighth sensory system, which we sort of talk about as our hidden sensory system is known as interoception. And when we learn to read bodily signals, sit with them, even though it’s like, can be really uncomfortable, that is where we can get these really deeper insights that shape our emotional intelligence.

And we teach our students that. To use that for getting to know both their bodily states, you know, so this is like if we want to support our nervous system, that means knowing, all right, I’m starting to override how much I can do of this work or focus for now, or I need to move. That there’s the bodily state part, but it’s also these, these signals that if we can tune into our body that are the foundation of our emotions.

And so for an emotional [00:35:00] intelligent, but also that physical health, which it’s going beautifully hand in hand, we need to be able to read those bodily signals. But I think for a lot of our culture, the messages are around. It’s purely looking at the mind, but I think we need to just lean a little bit more towards, well, yes, both manner, it’s the brain and it’s being able to listen to the body as well.

So for interoception, it’s, it’s not as simple as say our five outer facing senses, you know, like what we see, hear, taste. Touch and smell, but it is just as important, particularly for the old stuff that we’re working on, because it will be the part where it connects to our old memories. And that’s where we can get a real transformation right through our brain body system.

Melissa: Oh, I love that. So good. So good. I love it. So, I want to pretend that you have a magic wand and you could put one book in [00:36:00] the school curriculum. We’ll pretend that your book, which is coming out soon, is going to be in the curriculum. What other book would you choose? And this could be on any topic. 

Jessica: Oh, this is such a good question.

I need to have a think on this one. I think I really like The Alchemist, beautiful story on change and transformation and yeah, I think for a high school age, I think it’s a beautiful book. 

Melissa: Yeah, so beautiful. Now, let’s talk about how your day looks. I love hearing about people’s routines and rituals and a typical day in your life.

I know no two days are ever the same, but you said you’ve got a daughter. How old is she? Ivy 

Jessica: has just turned 13 months, so we have a very early start, but then she normally goes back to sleep. So I managed to sneak out of bed at five and I do coffee and then I do meditation. I call it [00:37:00] meditation, but it’s really just whatever I tune into where my state is at.

And then I attune to thinking, what do I need? That could be movement. It could be doing some interoception practice where I sit with what my body’s telling me. And it’s really about setting the tone for the day. Like, what do I need to. Move out of the way, and what do I need to connect with that’s really important for today?

And that’s been something I’ve done. for probably eight years and I think it’s really important for that whole why and greater purpose as well. After that, so Ivy normally wakes up about 6, 6. 30 and then we have our time to play and hang out before getting ready for work and work kicks off at around about 8.30 And so our work days are so varied, it can just depend on what’s happening. I’ll normally be With the team and in the [00:38:00] office until maybe around three o’clock. After that, normally I need some movement. So what we’re been talking about, which is usually a walk with Ivy or my husband, if he’s around. And after that, it’s mostly play and some fun through to around.

Dinner time, and then after dinner, I normally go back to checking the last bits of things that I need to catch back up on, and then a bit of a wind down to work. But I must admit that the times that I now breastfeed become more of my time to connect with myself and use some practices if I need to, or just tune into what’s going on, which I actually really love.

I can definitely feel that you get the oxytocin release and it does give me more breaks. So even though there’s a lot more going on with having my daughter and working. There’s more times in the day where I’m taking pause now and connecting back with [00:39:00] my body. So I think the challenge comes from just when you haven’t, when you’ve had those nights where there’s been a few hours awake and being able to go the next day, all right, I think I need to.

Um, maybe move some things that might be really challenging to the time when I’ve had significant sleep. 

Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. I loved breastfeeding so much. I breastfed for two years. Every time I would breastfeed, I was never on my phone. I would sit there and I would either do deep breathing or meditation or visualization, or sometimes I’d just look at her, but I would always use that time as a meditation and I would treat it like a meditation.

And I’m not joking, so many people comment on my daughter and how calm and just how she’s just very chill. She’s super chill. And I truly believe so much of that was because I meditated so much when I was pregnant. I meditated so much when I was [00:40:00] breastfeeding and I still do, but like she feels that energy.

She feels it even when she was in the womb and I truly believe that it has shaped who she is today. A 

Jessica: lot of science behind that too, so it’s a really interesting thing to talk about that relational aspect again of the nervous system, like it’s starting in the womb. There’s great research to show that when mothers have that really high level of stress, the impact that it has on the mom, but definitely the interesting studies that look at when a mother has gone through something that they’ve created.

So, um, that’s the thing that they didn’t want to do, is they didn’t want to pretend, stressful things with interviews and given feedback that wasn’t very positive that they didn’t even have the baby with them in the room or the infant in the room. And then they brought the infant back in later. And the infant’s heart rate would sink with the mother.

Oh, sorry. There’s so much that shows that is absolutely happening, and if we [00:41:00] have that capacity where we can bring ourselves back to regulation. We put a lot of focus on words and doing and, you know, making so many things happen as mothers, but a lot of it is really about. The state of being that we’re in as well.

Melissa: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. So when you’re working, who has your daughter, does your husband have her or do you have a nanny? Both. 

Jessica: So my husband does a lot of the parenting. And then we have had, we’ve been so lucky. We actually found our nanny through, she was going to just do some work initially in the first eight weeks to support us because we didn’t have a lot of family around.

I loved my daughter so much and my daughter and her had such a special connection that we agreed that she’d stay until Ivy was one. And so yeah, it’s been really interesting because I think. Um, you can maybe have expectations when you’re pregnant around the whole village thing, [00:42:00] but I think it’s difficult now to have that whole village from family and friends because people are just so busy.

We live, you know, remotely. And so having someone who’s there, who feels like that, that, that was the best thing for my nervous system was that one person who. Just attuned so beautifully to my daughter. 

Melissa: Yeah, and the reason I ask is because we have a nanny, and I was chatting to a girlfriend over dinner last night about it, and she also has a nanny, and I am well aware that it is a cost for everyone.

It’s a cost, and I’m well aware that is a lot for a lot of people, but I cannot tell you for me. It has been one of the biggest blessings in my life because it has allowed me to take care of myself and my nervous system and still show up for my other love, which is my business and be a better mom and be the best mom that I can be.

And [00:43:00] she is at the top of my gratitude list every single night when I write it down. And it really does take a village. And I get some people live with their parents. Some people have a lot more hands on from their parents and mine live a two hour drive away. So I don’t have that regular thing, but they do come up and see us and it’s great when they do.

But. That’s not like a regular thing, you know, it’s just having that regular person who you can rely on, who is just so loving. It’s just been one of the greatest gifts that I’ve gifted myself and our family. 

Jessica: I totally hear you. And when you say that your daughter is just as happy to go with that person and the love that they have for them as well.

Because from some parenting experts that I’ve learned from, what we call mothering, it’s not just the mother, you know, that [00:44:00] mothering can come from other people. And that’s really, at the end of the day, what we’re our children need, but if that comes from, you know, the father doing the mothering, mothering in quotations, of course.

But I think that’s where it’s changed, hasn’t it? You know, it’s about now going, what supports our family the best? I feel so similar to what you’re saying with the gratitude to be able to take care of the first baby I had, which is nervous system school. Um, and also be able to support or take care of Ivy as well, but do it in a way that is both.

But I think that takes sometimes looking at the beliefs that you have around that, because I don’t know if you got this through pregnancy, but the amount of stories I got told about how bad it would be, how hard it is, how, you know, there was a lot shared with me around becoming [00:45:00] a mother and. Yes, it is. I totally get that there’s challenges, but I think we also need to look at, well, what do I need?

What are my expectations? And maybe tune out the noise from outside of us, because it’s really. up to us to work out what’s best for our own little family and not what come from other people. But it’s interesting how many people want to tell a pregnant woman the bad things around parenting and how hard it is to do a business.

And I didn’t know what that could look like. So, I love hearing from women like you as well, who are saying, well, yes, you can do that. And it’s not always easy, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not possible. It does take some work, but Yeah, it took a shift in my own mindset for that to happen. 

Melissa: Yeah, absolutely.

I just want to like add this in there because this is so important. I think it’s our role to protect a pregnant woman’s peace. And whether you know that [00:46:00] pregnant woman or not, whether you see that pregnant woman in the shop or Whether they’re a friend, it is our role to protect that pregnant woman’s piece.

So I have friends that are pregnant right now. I will not go to them with my problems. It is not the time for me to dump any stuff on them. My role is to just bring love and joy and light. And peace to them as much as I can and ease as much as I can to them. This is not my time to add any more stress to their life.

And it just kind of annoys me that people say these things when people are pregnant. It does. It really annoys me. I remember when I was pregnant with my daughter and she was like, not one of my closest friends, but she was a friend. She lived in another country and we would stay in touch, but she had a miscarriage.

And then after Bambi was born, she was like, Oh, I had a miscarriage last October and I was like, why [00:47:00] didn’t you tell me? And she’s like, I’m not telling you I’ve had a miscarriage while you’re pregnant, babe. Like that is not protecting your peace. And it just stuck with me when she said that. I was just like, wow, thank you for being so respectful.

I just really took that on board. So like for me now. If anyone is ever pregnant, I am just like, how can I bring them so much joy, so much light? How can I make them laugh? How can I just ease their day as much as I possibly can? Because being pregnant is one of the biggest and best things in the entire world and you don’t need any more stress ever.

You just don’t, you don’t need anything else. You don’t need to know what’s going on with so and so down the road. You just don’t. So I just wanted to add that because it’s really important. Please, if you are listening to this, protect pregnant women’s peace, protect their peace. That is so great. T shirt.

Yeah, t shirt. Exactly. It’s just a [00:48:00] respectful thing to do. I remember I interviewed someone ages ago on the podcast about this, and I cannot remember which episode it was now, but he said to me, and anyone listening, they may remember this episode. So come and tell me on Instagram, but he said to me. If a pregnant woman doesn’t feel like a queen, we are, as a community, not doing our job properly.

Jessica: Wow. That’s awesome. Yeah. 

Melissa: And I was like, and I remember when I was pregnant with Bambi, randomly, I just had one of my friends, Sarah, she just came over, like I wasn’t even, Jew anytime soon. She just came over and she bought me like, three different things. She made bliss balls. She made a slice and she made muffins and I was like, what are you doing?

And she’s like, you’re pregnant. And I was like, yeah, but I’m not even Junk. And she’s like, doesn’t matter. And I was like, Oh my God, it was just so nice. Like little things like that. If you’re making food, make a little bit extra and drop it to a pregnant woman’s house. Seriously, [00:49:00] that goes a long way. 

Jessica: I couldn’t agree with you more.

It was really interesting early on in my pregnancy, I was, had moved to the Sunshine Coast at the start and didn’t have, you know, my girlfriends around. And this was a time when, you know, there’s big changes in your nervous system going on. And that’s because of hormones connecting with the nervous system too.

But. I really think you do have a sense of feeling a little bit more vulnerable and needing that nurturing, but I was fortunate to connect with a yoga group and the lady who ran it, she was a little bit older, but after yoga, she would make us bring out morning tea that she’d made for us and cups of tea.

But it was the conversation that I had with the women there that was the most supportive thing for me. Because we talked about how people would tell us the terrible things that had happened to them in their births. Like they felt like it was going to be like, Oh, just to let you know, this was my really bad birth experience.

Melissa: Yeah. No, I’m [00:50:00] good. Thanks. I’m good. 

Jessica: Yeah. I was literally going. She told us to say, and I love this, she told us to say, my baby’s listening. 

Melissa: Yeah. I love that. 

Jessica: It was so good. And I used it. So I think that belonging that we’re talking about and community in times of pregnancy, just that. So helpful. And you can feel that sense with what you’re saying, like a friend just dropping off something to show I’m nurturing you.

And I really think that gave me the most, I’m not going to say resilience, but the most stability feeling like I’ve got this, I can do this moving forward into the birth. It was, I felt really nourished and supported because it can be challenging to get that time to. look after yourself in the time right before you finish, if you’re still working.

And it’s like organizing a business, it can get a little bit down to the wire sometimes. So I think having that was just beautiful. And she was the lady who taught us, we would, you know, go into [00:51:00] child’s pose and she would walk around on all of us and just place So it was almost like the mother getting mothered.

I really loved it. 

Melissa: Beautiful. Yeah. I am such a huge fan of support. Not just when you’re pregnant, not just when you’re just giving birth all the time. Get support in your personal life. Get support in your business. You don’t have to do this thing called life and business on your own, please. I highly recommend you don’t even try.

Find a community, find people. That’s why, you know, that she launched community is thriving because they’re all in there. They’re like minded. They’re all business women growing their business and wanting to do it in a soul aligned and authentic way. And there are people out there that are waiting and willing to connect with you.

So I am such a huge fan of community and connection. It is one of the pillars of longevity, so we need it. We absolutely need it and we thrive on it. So I love that you mentioned that. Now I [00:52:00] have three rapid fire questions for you. Are you ready? Okay, awesome. What is one thing that we can do today for our health?

Jessica: I’m going to lean into a theme that we’ve been talking about and I would say improve our social bonds and prioritize that. 

Melissa: Yeah. Beautiful. I love it. I do not need any other excuses to hang out with my friends. Like I love it. I am an extrovert. I’m a generator. I’m an Aries. I’m like, give me all the people all the time.

I coach Inside She Launch, I do speaking events, I interview on my podcast and people are like, Oh my gosh, talking about projecting their stuff. That must be so exhausting. And I’m like, it lights me. 

Jessica: It’s energizing, isn’t it? 

Melissa: It is energizing for me. It is energizing. So I love that. Next one. What is one thing that we can do for more wealth in our life?

Jessica: Ooh, I think that it’s really being able to. Make our decisions coming into that place [00:53:00] of regulation first that I was talking about, because that’s where we have access to creativity and innovation. And so spending that time, whether that’s through your own practice of meditation and you come to where you feel dropped in, you feel regulated, making the decisions going forwards in that way that’s going to serve you for your business or offering.

But I would also say being able to uncouple old stories. From your state today, because that ongoing story will create things around like what we’ve been saying, what you charge for your business, how you view accepting money. And I think that is so intrinsically tied to our worth as well. 100%. 

Melissa: And last one, what is one thing that we can do today for more love in our life?

Jessica: Oh, 

Melissa: that’s lovely. 

Jessica: I think it’s about. Really being able to heal our old relational wounds because so much of our [00:54:00] relationships today will bring up those patterns if we haven’t healed them. And so it just keeps playing out. And I think this is really what stops us being able to have those present real openhearted connections with other people.

So to remove that armoring that can build around our heart, we really need to look at has happened in the past. It doesn’t mean we have to forgive and forget, but it’s finding our own way of healing from what’s happened, what might not have happened that we needed and getting, again, it comes back to that support, whether that’s through a mentor, a coach, doing that self worth, working with a health professional, but investing in yourself so you can take that armoring off your heart.

Absolutely. 

Melissa: This has been so amazing. I have absolutely loved chatting with you. You are helping so many people with your work. Everything that you do is supporting [00:55:00] people. So I want to know how I and the listeners can give back and serve you today. Wow. 

Jessica: Thank you. Well, if people are interested in being able to do work on their nervous system, they can then please head over to our website nervoussystemschool.

com. The best place is probably to get started would be our masterclass, the Vagus Nerve Masterclass. It’s three hours, it gives you the complete framework and every exercise for each state. It’s a really great in depth, but empowering place to begin this work. 

Melissa: Beautiful. I love it. And we’ll link to everything in the show notes of yours, so people can go and check it out.

Your Instagram, your website, all your programs and your masterclass. Thank you so much for all the work that you do. Thank you for shining light on the vagus nerve and the nervous system. And for just being such a light in the world on this incredibly important topic. Thank you so much. 

Jessica: Thank you, Melissa.[00:56:00] 

Melissa: Beautiful friends, please take care of yourselves. Please take care of your beautiful nervous systems and your vagus nerve and take time for you every single day to regulate your nervous system. You are important. You matter. And your nervous system dictates the nervous system of the entire home. So I hope you really take on everything we spoke about today and you implement it into your life.

Now, if you loved this conversation and you got a lot out of it, please follow the show And if you haven’t already, leave me a review on Apple podcasts, please. That would mean the absolute world to me. And it means that I can keep getting on amazing guests like Jessica. And now come and tell me on Instagram at Melissa Ambrosini what your biggest key takeaway was from this episode.

I love connecting with you and I love hearing from you. And before I go, I just wanted to say thank you so much for being here, [00:57:00] for wanting to be the best, the healthiest and the happiest version of yourself and for showing up today for you. You rock. Now, if there’s someone in your life that you can think of that would really benefit from this episode, please share it with them right now.

You can take a screenshot, share it on your social media, email it to them, text it to them, do whatever you have got to do to get this in their ears. And until next time, don’t forget that love is sexy, healthy is liberating, and wealthy isn’t a dirty word.


Thank you so much for listening. I’m so honored that you’re here and would be SO grateful if you could leave me a review on Apple podcasts, that way we can inspire and educate even more people together.

P.S. If you’re looking for a high-impact marketing opportunity for your business and are interested in becoming a sponsor for The Melissa Ambrosini Show podcast, please email pr@melissaambrosini.com for more information.

P.P.S. Please seek advice from a qualified holistic practitioner before starting any new health practice.

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