Nurture Your Nervous System ~
As we enter a brand-new year, many of you will be setting new year’s goals or resolutions for yourself, and I want to encourage you to first bring calm to your body. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to nurture your nervous system. I think everybody’s first goal of 2022 needs to be experiencing calm and living in ease.
We’ve been living under extreme circumstances for the past 2 years. Stress has been at all-time high. Working on releasing some of that stress before trying to reach your goals is going to set you up for success to achieve those goals.
I know you’re feeling the energy of the new year and a new beginning. That energy feels good, it’s exhilarating and intoxicating. You're also likely feeling very motivated right now, but motivation doesn’t last. Motivation always peaks, then falls. Definitely set your goals now and get really clear on what you want to achieve in 2022 while you’re feeling the energy of the new year. Then, let your first step towards achieving those goals be committing to calming your nervous system.
I recommend that you commit to 3 things you’ll do every single day to nurture your nervous system. These don’t have to be big things, they don’t require a lot of time or energy, and many of them are free. This is important because when you’re feeling calm, you’re more likely to do what’s required to reach your goals without going into overwhelm. Trying to achieve something from an adrenalized state is far more challenging and often quite unsuccessful. When you’re consistent with caring for and nurturing your nervous system, you'll set yourself up for greater success at achieving all you desire this year.
Here are 11 Effective Ways to Nurture Your Nervous System:
Choose the 3 that resonate with you and commit to doing them every day. Then, from a less adrenalized place, you can create a plan to reach your goals and start working towards them. Please note these are not listed in a particular order, they're all equally effective.
1. Prioritize Sleep
Lack of sleep wreaks havoc on your mind and body. There isn’t an area of your life that isn’t affected by sleep. Lack of sleep makes it extra challenging to manage daily stressors effectively. When you aren’t managing stress effectively, sleep becomes challenging. This is because stress and sleep two work together. Prioritizing sleep not only helps calm your overloaded nervous system, but it also helps you think clearly and make decisions easily. Sleep improves your immune system and helps you feel happier and find more joy in your life. Further, adequate sleep helps boost your productivity, so prioritzing sleep sets you up for success to achieving your new year’s goals. These are just a few of the many benefits that sleep provides. There are so many easy ways to improve your sleep, click here to learn more.
2. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is a powerful emotion, that when felt, can literally transform you.
The simple act of practicing gratitude has the power to shift your entire being. With gratitude, the energy that you put out into the world, shifts. How you interact with people, changes. Your view of the world around you, becomes completely different. Studies have proven that when you experience and express gratitude, you reduce stress and boost your immune system. With a gratitude practice you'll care for yourself more; cultivate happier and healthier relationships; feel more content and fulfilled in your life; and it'll even make you more productive. An easy way to begin practicing gratitude is to start, or end, each day with a focus on 3 things you’re grateful for. That’s it! It’s that simple. Keep a little notebook by your bedside and before you get out of bed in the morning or before you go to sleep at night, write down 3 things you feel grateful for. It’s a great way to help start, or end, your day with a feeling of calm and abundance. For more on gratitude click here.
3. Give Yourself a Tech Time-Out
We’re a culture obsessed with, and addicted to, our devices and this addiction has gotten worse since we've been at home so much. Although technology is helpful and improves our lives in numerous ways, our attachment to it distracts us and causes unnecessary stress. Unnecessary because we have the power to unplug and detach ourselves from our devices, if we choose to.
You might not realize it; but all that beeping, pinging, vibrating and ringing you hear from your phone all day long, distracts you and contributes to over-loading your mind. Too much screen time hinders optimal health and well-being. When you commit to giving yourself a time-out from all devices each day, you help reduce stress, clear your mind, and increase productivity. Click here for tips on unplugging.
A regular meditation practice has so many benefits! Including, helping to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression, increasing mental clarity, encouraging feelings of calm, and helping to keep you in the present moment (so important in our ultra-busy world). Contrary to what many believe, you don’t have to meditate for 20 or 30 min a day to receive the benefits of this ancient practice. Even 5 minutes a day will help you and no matter how busy you are, you can give yourself 5 minutes of stillness. Click here for more on meditation and tips for establishing a successful meditation practice in your life.
5. Enjoy Nature
Regardless of the weather, getting outside and enjoying nature, even for 20 minutes a day, can make a huge difference to how you feel. I recommend walking in nature every day, even on cold or rainy days. Doing so helps you increase your movement, while also helping you clear your mind, improve your mood, and stimulate creative thinking, while also reducing stress and depression.
6. Practice Yoga
Yoga provides so many benefits for your mind and body including relieving stress and improving mental health. You don’t have to join a yoga studio to enjoy this practice, there’s loads of free videos online so you can practice for free in the comfort of your own home. There’s a fantastic podcast interview I did with Sean Patrick, a senior yoga and meditation instructor in Toronto titled Yoga Truths. In the episode Sean explains how we misunderstand yoga in our culture and how to truly benefit from a yoga practice.
7. Play and Have Fun
We adults take life way too seriously. Play is not only an effective way to nurture your nervous system as it helps to boost feel good hormones and decrease stress, but it’s also super fun and brings more joy to your life. For more on the benefits of play and how to bring it into your life, click here.
8. Write in a Journal
Writing out what you're feeling is one of THE BEST outlets of expression. It's also one of the easiest ways to maintain mental and emotional clarity, while reducing stress. You don’t have to be a writer for this practice, and you don’t have to write pages upon pages each day. Even committing to writing one paragraph each day can benefit you. Or you might choose to set a timer for 5 minutes, you'll be surprised at how much you can write in 5 minutes. If you struggle with knowing what to write about, try using a writing prompt, such as What did I learn today? Or perhaps you'll choose to write about what you're grateful for each day in detail. There are so many benefits from this practice, to learn more click here.
9. Enoy a 5-Minute Breather
Most people greatly underestimate how much breathing affects 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 sitting 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 one 5-minute breather every hour throughout the day.
10. Reduce Caffeine, Alcohol, Refined Sugar and Processed Foods
What you consume matters. It greatly determines how you feel, how you look, and your overall health and vitality. It’s really hard to experience calm when you’re consuming caffeine and eating processed foods on the run all day. That glass of wine that you’re enjoying every night to help you let go of the stressors from the day, might be doing the opposite of what you think it’s doing. Commit to eating real food more often. Commit to eating mindfully. Increase water intake, and consume less of the things that give you a "rush". For more on how what you’re consuming is contributing to how you’re feeling, give a listen to the podast episode titled How Diet Contributes to Anxiety. It’s an interview I did with Dr. Mary Choi, ND, where she shares how what you eat is contributes to how you’re feeling.
11. Use Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil is one of the most gentle and useful of all the essential oils. It has a soft, floral, slightly herbal scent that is liked by most and is probably best known for its relaxing, calming effect on the nervous system. Lavender essential oil is fantastic for helping to ease anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and depression. There are so many ways you can enjoy this lovely calming essential oil in your home and on your body. To learn more, click here.
While there are numerous ways to help boost calm, the 11 suggestions given here will help get you started. Again, I suggest choosing 3 that resonate with you and commit to doing them every day. They’re all super easy and extremely effective. The more at ease you feel, the more productive you’ll be at achieving all that you desire this year.
What 3 are you going to commit to? Leave a comment and let me know, I'd love to hear from you.
Related Podcasts and Posts ~
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.