How to self regulate the nervous system is what we’ll be covering in this blog post. There are many ways, and this post will cover a few of them. They’re not new, but they’re definitely worth repeating. Sometimes it’s hard to notice when we’re in it, so constantly reminding yourself about the tools available may help you to pull yourself back up when you’re struggling.
How to Self Regulate the Nervous System – seven tips.
The nervous system is a complex network of nerves and cells that give you the ability to think, move and feel. Every day we are bombarded with sensory information from our environment: people, places, sounds and smells. Our brain has to process all this input for us to function. Unfortunately, sometimes it can be overstimulated, which will cause an overload of stress hormones such as cortisol. This article discusses how to self regulate your nervous system to help reduce symptoms. So, let’s dive in!
Practice Moderate-to-Intense Forms of Movement
There are many different types of exercise that you can do to help regulate your nervous system. The key is to find a form of movement that you genuinely enjoy and try it out. Different forms of physical activity cause stress on the body in varying degrees. Experiment with activities like running, hiking or swimming — all moderate-to-intense forms of exercise.
The following are some general guidelines for deciding the intensity of your physical activity — pick something difficult enough to make you sweat but not so hard as to cause pain or exhaustion: 50% – 60% Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) = Moderate-Intensity Exercise. 70% – 80% MHR = High
Another quick movement related tip, raise your hands above your head, maybe dance it out. Many health benefits can be obtained from placing your arms over your head. It stimulates the nervous system. It increases your confidence and lowers cortisol levels. Check out the photo at that goes along with this post. Obviously the dude in the above photo is celebrating with it’s hands over head because it’s figured out how to self regulate the nervous system. 😉
Take advantage of the sun and nature
Another great idea on how to self regulate the nervous system is to spend time in nature. Sunlight provides us with vitamin D, which is essential for our health. A lack of sunlight can cause Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that typically occurs during the winter months. Getting outside and absorbing some natural light can go a long way in regulating your mood.
Additionally, being in nature provides a calming effect because it connects you with the world around you. It’s easy to lose yourself when spending all day inside at work, but taking some time out of your busy life can help restore balance and peace.
When outside for an activity such as walking or running, be present –feel what’s happening around you. Take in the sounds of nature, and notice all that is happening around you. Breathe deeply and enjoy the feeling of being outside — this can be a great way to relax your nervous system and get out of you head.
Discover activities that make you lose track of time
Some activities can help regulate your nervous system by causing you to lose track of time. These types of activities usually involve some form of creativity or imagination and can be a great way to relieve stress. For example, activities like painting, sculpting, writing, playing music or dancing can all help you forget about the stresses of life.
While doing any of these activities, you may notice that you forget about your responsibilities and worries. Letting go of the thoughts in your head will help you relax and reset your nervous system.
Spend Time with Pets and Loved Ones
Additionally, spending time with pets and loved ones can help regulate your nervous system. Pets provide us with unconditional love and companionship, which is essential for our wellbeing. They can also be a great source of comfort during difficult times.
Similarly, spending time with loved ones provides us with a sense of connection and support. Human interaction is crucial for our health and wellbeing, so take time to connect with those around you. Having someone there for you when things get tough can be an incredible source of support.
Hand on the Heart
There is also a simple practice that you can do to help regulate your nervous system — hand on the heart. This involves placing one or both hands over your heart and taking a few deep breaths. By doing this, you are sending signals to your brain that everything is okay and that you are safe.
This practice can be done anywhere, any time. If you feel stressed or overwhelmed, take a few minutes to sit down and place your hands over your heart. Close your eyes, take some deep breaths and allow yourself to relax. You will start to feel the effects of this practice immediately.
Another great way to regulate your nervous system is through gratitude practice. For example, this could involve writing down five things you are grateful for each day. By focusing on the good in your life, you send positive signals to your brain to help regulate your mood and emotions.
A gratitude practice can be done any time of the day, but it is often easiest to do before bed at the end of your day. At this time, think about all that you are grateful for and write down a few things in a journal or on sticky notes — then put them up near your nightstand as reminders throughout the next day.
Another way to practice gratitude during stressful times is by using the memory technique. First, when you feel overwhelmed, write down the top three things that are causing you stress. Then start writing down all of your memories related to the first thing on your list — this can help take away some of its power over you and put it into perspective, allowing you to be grateful for what is truly important in life!
There are a lot of breathing techniques that can help regulate your nervous system. The one we will focus on in this post is diaphragmatic breathing — the type of deep, calm breaths you take when relaxing or sleeping. This type of breathing helps bring fresh blood and oxygen into our bodies, which immediately helps calm the nervous system.
To do diaphragmatic breathing:
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable position and place one hand on your stomach.
- Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, feeling your belly expand as you inhale and contract as you exhale.
- Continue to breathe deeply for several minutes until you feel calm and relaxed.
This works by stimulating the vagus nerve, which helps to calm the nervous system. Many other breathing exercises can help regulate your nervous system, so experiment until you find one or a few that work best for you. You may also want to try yoga or meditation, both of which are great ways to relax and reset your nervous system.
This blog post laid out several tips about how to self regulate the nervous system. In other words, there’s no single way to do it. So instead, find what works for you, from mindful meditation and breathing exercises to enjoying your favourite activity. Then, pick one or two that feel comfortable for you and try them out!
And if you have any tips about how to self regulate the nervous system I’d love to hear them. You can message me here.