“That’s Getting on my Nerves?!”

Maybe you’ve heard someone use this odd expression and wondered what it meant or where it came from? Maybe you hoped whoever said it wasn’t talking about YOU (and I’m sure they weren’t)!! When someone says that’s getting on my nerves, it means something is irritating them or bugging them. It’s just an expression and of course isn’t meant to be taken literally but there are some interesting comparisons.

For example, if something was literally on one or more of your nerves it WOULD be annoying. Your nerve system is responsible for coordinating all the other systems of your body and disrupting it in any way keeps your body from working as efficiently and effectively as possible which would be annoying. However, your nerve system is AMAZING and can adapt to all sorts of things!!!

Your nerve system consists of two major parts: your central nerve system and your peripheral nerve system. Your central nerve system is made up of your brain, which is the control center, and your spinal cord which is a bundle of nerves inside your spine. Your peripheral nerve system consists of about 37 miles of nerves that extend away from the spinal cord throughout your entire body!! (Yeah, that’s a LOT!!)to flow back and forth between your brain and every cell, tissue, and organ in your body. It is estimated that there are over seven trillion nerves in the body that carry billions of nerve messages to and from the brain every second!!! The fact that your body is coordinating that volume of information would be AMAZING enough, but your nerve system is so sophisticated that it can and does change to learn different repeated behaviors.

Neurons are microscopic cells shaped like blobs with tiny branches that come off them. These branches connect to other neurons to send messages along. When you learn something, whether it’s how to give a handshake, how to hold your fork and knife, how to pitch a tent, how to play the piano, or any of many other things, the messages travel from one neuron to another over and over again. Eventually the brain starts to create connections, or pathways, between the neurons so things become easier and you get better and better at doing them. The big word, neuroplasticity, refers to your body’s ability to form new nerve connections over time and explains how we can adapt, master new skills, store memories and information, and even recover after we injure our brains.

The important part of developing these pathways though is repetition. You must practice whatever it is. Here is a simple exercise that everyone can do and that is probably as needed today as ever. This exercise makes use of neuroplasticity and should leave you happier and more positive when you are done with it. It is estimated, that 90% of your happiness depends not on the external world but on how you perceive it. So, if we can rewire our brains to think happy and positive thoughts, then we could literally BE happier and more positive. Here’s how it works.

Take time every day to write down three new things that you are thankful for and focus on
them for 2 or 3 minutes. (Hint: one of the things might be how amazing your nerve system is!!) At the end of 21 days, you will have rewired your nerve system to look for positive things in the world around you which will surely lead to a happier life. If you’re going to let something get on your nerves, choose something positive. And remember for your nerve system to function optimally, your spine needs to be well aligned. Your family chiropractor can help you with that. Don’t let your spine get on your nerves!!! Happy thoughts to all!

—By Judy Nutz Campanale, DC, ACP

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