7 Ways to Calm Your Nervous System ~
Life has been extra challenging over the past year and a half. Lockdowns, kids learning online, not sure where you can and cannot go, not sure who you can and cannot see, the case counts, everything we've been through on top of everyday stressors, has not made life easy; most everyone's stress has gone way up.
It's important to know that experiencing stress is inevitable and that not all stress is bad, some stressors can even be good. For example, working out puts stress on your body as you're challenging it to perform at levels it doesn't usually perform at. At the same time, working out isn't a bad thing. The stress that your body feels during a workout is far outweighed by the benefits you receive from it. To understand more about the nervous system, click here.
However, what we've been living through has added a whole new layer of stress. If you weren't managing daily stressors well before our world turned upside down, there's a good chance your already overloaded nervous system isn't experiencing any calm these days. Being able to live with calm and ease with all that life throws at you isn't easy, yet it CAN be done! If you weren't in the habit of managing stress before, now is the time to start. There are actually many small things you can do throughout the day to help calm your nervous system and better manage stress. Here I'm sharing 7 easy ways to help bring more calm to your body and more ease to your day.
7 Easy Way to Calm Your Nervous System:
1) 5-Minute Breathers ~
Most people greatly underestimate how much breathing effects the way they feel. Your breath is a super easy and highly effective way to encourage calm in your body.
If you're like most people, you're going through your day breathing quick, shallow breaths from your chest, rarely giving a second thought to allowing deep belly breaths. The closest thing you may have to a deep breath is a sigh that comes from frustration or exhaustion. It's deep belly breathing that helps bring in the most oxygen, which contributes to feelings of calm.
A 5-minute breather is when you give yourself 5 minutes away from what you're doing to breathe. Think of it like having a cigarette break without the cigarette. Smokers do this all time; step outside and away from what they're doing for a few minutes to enjoy a cigarette. You can do the same thing! Step outside for 5 minutes, without your phone, and breathe in fresh air. Deeply. Place your feet flat on the ground, refrain from crossing your legs if you're siting down, and allow deep belly breaths with long, slow, intentional exhales. Do this for 5 minutes, then carry on with what you were doing. I recommend allowing at least one 5-minute breather every hour throughout your day.
2) Sip Calming Tea ~
Tea is a great way to promote calm and relaxation in your body, not to mention a delicious way too! There are many teas that can help you soothe and relax your over-worked nervous system. A few to try are:
Chamomile ~ Perhaps the most well-known tea for encouraging relaxation.
Lavender ~ This herb is known to promote calm and relieve stress. (You might also enjoy using Lavender Essential Oil in your home.)
Mint ~ There's a large variety of mint teas available to suit your taste buds while also soothing your nervous system.
3) Tech Time-Out ~
We're obsessed with technology and rarely, if ever, go through our day without it. Technology is great in many ways and certainly makes life easier. Information that we used to have to wait days for is now at our fingertips and that certainly has many benefits. However, at the same time, access to instant information and all that beeping, pinging, vibrating, and ringing that you hear all day long does the opposite of promoting calm in the body and contributes to increasing stress and anxiety.
Make a daily commitment to a tech time-out. You could commit to not looking at your phone, watching TV or hopping on your computer for the first hour of each day. Or perhaps you'll commit to no tech time over lunch. Alternatively, you could commit to an Evening Ritual which would include no phone, computer and TV use an hour before you go to bed. Giving yourself time each day away from technology will greatly help to promote calm while it helps clear your mind and reduce stress and anxiety. And guess what? All those messages and emails won’t go anywhere. I promise they will sit there waiting patiently for your return.
4) Regular Treatments ~
There are so many treatments that help your body feel better while also encouraging the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. It's the parasympathetic nervous system that's responsible for restoring and calming the body after it's been in a heightened, stressed state. Activating the parasympathetic is something you want to be doing as much as you can throughout the day and there are many treatments that can help. Here's just a few:
Massage Therapy ~ A massage will help ease muscle discomfort while also encourage the body to go into deep relaxation.
Chiropractic Care ~ Chiropractors are spine, muscle, joint and nervous system experts. Chiropractic treatments help to alleviate pain while helping to calm the nervous system.
Reflexology ~ Reflexology is applied pressure to areas on the feet to help promote healing to the corresponding area of the body. Several studies indicate that reflexology may reduce pain and psychological symptoms, such as stress and anxiety, and enhance relaxation and sleep.
Acupuncture ~ This ancient form of medicine is based on the concept of balancing inner energy. Acupuncture is well known for helping calm the nervous system and is often used to help reduce stress and anxiety.
Osteopathy ~ Osteopathic treatments gently manipulate soft tissues relieving pain, while at the same time it soothes nerves and helps the body get back to its balanced state.
Many treatments are covered (either fully or partially) under health benefit plans. If you have a health benefit plan, check and see what treatments your plan covers. Remember, you're paying into your health benefit plan and it's there to benefit your health.
5) Soak in the Tub ~
Enjoying a soak in the tub, a.k.a. having a bath, has many proven benefits including helping to reduce stress and calm the body. A great time to enjoy a soak in the tub is in the evening. It's one of the best ways to soothe tired muscles and unwind from the day. You can further enhance this relaxing experience by keeping lighting low or using candles, adding in 1-2 cups of Epsom salts (known for soothing muscle aches and helping to reduce stress), as well as a calming essential oil such as Lavender essential oil (I like to add 1 Tbsp of carrier oil with 3-4 drops of an essential oil to a full tub).
Be sure to give yourself at least 20 minutes soaking in the tub to fully benefit from it. If you're enjoying a soak before bed, be sure to do it 1-2 hours before your bedtime. Your body needs time to cool down before going to sleep.
6) Calming Music ~
Music greatly influences the way you feel. Listening to upbeat music induces feelings of happiness and helps increase energy levels. Conversely, listening to calming music contributes to relaxation while helping to lower stress hormones. You can put on some calming music anytime throughout the day to reap its benefits. If you have have trouble sleeping at night, get in the habit of listening to calming music at bedtime, or even during your soak in the tub. It's a great way to help encourage calm before bed. There's a reason why many parents play lullabies for their children at bedtime, it's because it helps them calm down and encourages sleep and that doesn't stop working when you become an adult!
7) Enjoy Time with a Pet ~
If you have a pet dog or cat, put time in your schedule to sit and pet them every day, without distractions. Interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Enjoying time with your furry companion helps ground you and bring you in the present moment thereby helping to calm your nervous system. if you don't have a pet of your own and aren't ready to be a pet owner, you can still benefit! Offer to walk your friend's dog, cat-sit for your neighbor, or become a volunteer at a local animal shelter. You don't need huge amounts of time exposed to animals to benefit in huge ways, even short interactions will help you experience calm.
More ways to help calm your nervous system:
Remember, every small thing that you do to help alleviate stress and encourage calm throughout the day helps. In fact, doing multiple small things consistently will benefit you more than doing one big thing occasionally. The more you incorporate calming practices, the more your body will want them creating a self-fulfilling habit of keeping your nervous system calm.
In what ways are you going to help calm your nervous system? Leave a comment below and let me know ~ I'd love to hear from you.
If you love this blog, I'd greatly appreciate you sharing it so that others can benefit from reading it as well. Thank you.
Looking for more tips to help you live well? Check out Your Live Well Journey - The Podcast, every episode offers ways to help you improve your self-care.