'After years of stress and trauma, I was completely burnt out. Here's how I overcame it.'

In August 2011 my dad passed away in a car accident. The week before, I had been offered a role as a graduate lawyer at a large law firm. Over the next 12 months I’d be processing the shock and trauma of my loss, working long hours as a junior lawyer and helping mum wind down what had just been a multi-million dollar family business.

I was trying desperately to hold my life together at the time and put on a brave face despite losing almost 10kg in weight, watching my hair fall out and experiencing severe anxiety, gut issues and sleeping problems. I was emotionally unavailable, exhausted, dissociated from my body, dealing with chronic pain and riding an emotional rollercoaster daily.

I was experiencing the classic signs of what I now know to be a severely dysregulated nervous system.

Image: Supplied


I knew I was unwell, but I didn’t know what to do about it. So in late 2014 I quit my job, moved in with my mum, sold my car and invested my inheritance in search of answers. Over the next seven years I’d invest hundreds of thousands looking for answers to my mental and emotional challenges. I hired psychologists, life coaches, healers, kinesiologists, acupuncturists, naturopaths and even shamans to help me.

I tried meditation apps, hypnosis apps, mindset coaching and everything in between. Most of it didn’t help and some of it got me limited results. After investing hundreds of thousands with limited results I would often wonder - “Is there something wrong with me?”

I continued looking in the hopes of finding answers and even became a master life coach for six years and worked with thousands of people while I continued to experiment with my own health and wellbeing and share my findings.

It wasn’t until 2021 that I discovered the power of nervous system regulation thanks to my husband and I began to understand the fundamental role it plays in regulating and healing every aspect of our being.


What is Nervous System Regulation?

My husband, a scientist and tech entrepreneur, and I began diving further into nervous system regulation while on our honeymoon travelling around Europe. We began to understand:

  • The different states of the nervous system;
  • The impact of burnout, trauma and the buildup of stress on the nervous system (known as allostatic load);
  • The negative habits that lead to nervous system dysregulation; and
  • The positive daily habits that support a healthy and thriving nervous system; and
  • The simple daily exercises and movements that help shift the nervous system into a balanced state.

It led us to developing the NeuroFit app – to help us and others regulate their nervous system daily.

I began noticing that my emotional state was more balanced. I was experiencing less brain fog and more motivation. The positive results crept up on me and were a pleasant surprise.

We launched the app to my existing coaching audience in mid-2022 and the results were amazing. Our members now report:

  • Feeling 54 per cent less stressed in just 7 days; and
  • 96 per cent of members experience relief from negative emotions within 5 minutes of balancing their nervous system with an exercise.

Here’s what healing my nervous system has taught me:

Start with the Nervous System.

Turns out, chronic stress and burnout must be addressed through the body and not the mind. This is why mindset-focused approaches rarely work to combat chronic stress and burnout.

There is a scientific reason for this - 80 per cent of the nerves in the body are afferent which means they go up from the body up to the brain. Only 20 per cent of the nerves go from the brain down to the body.

This means if the body perceives stress or danger, these survival-based signals are overpowering to even the strongest mindset. The silver lining is that taking “advantage” of these same afferent nerves leads to amazing results – fast.


Identify your Nervous System state.

Learning to identify which nervous system state I was in and how to shift out of it was a game changer for me. It allowed me to notice patterns and pre-empt them. I started to learn what would trigger my “fight or flight” response and what would put me into a “shutdown” state. Then, instead of staying in a negative state for days on end, I’d be able to shift out of it within minutes.

There are six key nervous system states that are important to be aware of:

  • The Primary Nervous System states that include:
    • Ventral Vagal (Rest & Digest) State - this is where we are relaxed, social, loving, open and compassionate. Rest and digestion are optimized here.
    • Sympathetic (Fight or Flight) State - we tend to feel anxious, tense, angry or irritated here. This is a great (temporary) state we can access during times we need to get things done. Prolonged time spent in this state leads to dysregulation.
    • Dorsal Vagal (Shutdown or Freeze) State - in this state we feel numb, burnt out and dissociated from our body.
  • The Secondary Nervous System states that include:
    • Play State - when we are in this state we feel upbeat, lively, energised and creative.
    • Stillness State - in this state we feel calm, relaxed, serene and peaceful.
    • Overwhelm State - in this state we feel hopeless, panic, despair and apathy.

By being able to clearly identify which state we are in, we’re in a much better position to “shift our state” into a more desirable state.

Image: Supplied


Balance the Nervous System daily.

I began incorporating daily nervous system exercises into my day and within months.

These exercises are body-based exercises that allow us to get out of our head and back into our body. They send signals to the afferent nerves in the body that help reset the nervous system.

I do these exercises:

  • Anytime I find myself in an overwhelmed, shutdown or fight-or-flight state; and
  • I do them daily to help develop better interoception - bodily awareness of the feelings I am experiencing inside my body.

Develop healthy habits that support your Nervous System.

It turns out that there are habits and behaviours that help keep the nervous system regulated and habits that lead to dysregulation.

Habits that support a healthy nervous system include:

  • 10+ minutes of daily exercise;
  • Daily play and creativity in a social setting;
  • 10+ minutes of meditation or stillness a day;
  • A consistent bedtime routine and plenty of sleep;
  • Consuming enough water;
  • Eating a healthy diet full of good fats; and
  • Prioritizing peace.

And habits that are best avoided include:

  • Eating less than 3 hours before bedtime;
  • Consuming alcohol and other substances;
  • Consuming stressful online content;
  • Engaging in interactions that lead to social fatigue.

I don’t believe we need to avoid stress entirely in order to have a happy, regulated nervous system. But I do believe that we need to cultivate a resilient nervous system daily. It is our responsibility to do so.

Loren Hogue is the co-founder of NeuroFit with her husband Andrew. After both experiencing a lifetime of living with a dysregulated nervous system, burnout and chronic stress, they found Nervous System Regulation to be the best solution. They believe that it is possible for millions of people to have happy and thriving lives (and nervous systems) with just 5 minutes of balancing a day.


Image: Supplied

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