Regulating Your Nervous System

 Regulating Your Nervous System

By Jennifer Kelleher

I’m feeling a bit overstimulated as I sit down to write this week’s column, so I have to pause, close my eyes, and take a number of slow, deep breaths in and out of my nose. After just a few rounds, I can feel my nervous system regulating, mind calming, and body releasing its grips. It’s quite remarkable; I invite you to try it now.

We have so many natural and accessible options for regulating our systems so that we can live in a balanced state, but in order for them to work, we must take them out of our minds and into our practice.

There will always be people, situations, or thoughts that trigger us to feel stressed or anxious. What I want you to understand is that you do not have to live in this state. With awareness and dedication, you can actually make the conscious decision to acknowledge when you are entering or in a stressed state and do something to bring yourself back into a place of calm. The first step is awareness, the second step is having the tools (knowledge), and the final step is using them.

Despite what happens outside our control, we can control our state. Because we are living and experiencing from this body, if we do what we can to maintain it in a stable place of calm and presence, we will be able to handle whatever comes our way with grace. This is incredibly powerful.

Some ideas for regulating your nervous system include: deep belly breathing where your exhale is 2x the length of your inhale, walking or simply being in nature, yoga, meditation, a hot shower or bath, the use of aromatherapy, using a weighted blanket, humming or singing, tapping, massage or self-massage, hugs, and laughing. I invite you to pick one or two of these tools and start using them daily whenever you feel stressed, worried, or anxious.

Along with the above, it is also important to acknowledge the larger pillars of your life. Two of the big ones to start with are sleep and diet. What can you do to prioritize sleep? What is your evening routine like? What do you do to wind down before bed and set yourself up for good quality rest? In terms of diet, are you eating three whole food meals each day? Do you feel satiated and energized after your meals?

A dysregulated nervous system can come with side effects such as a racing heart, trouble sleeping, feeling on edge, headaches, muscle tension, issues with digestion, chronic fatigue, difficulty concentrating, feeling overly anxious or depressed, the inability to cope, and/or panic attacks. The body always shows us the path of what we need to do and where we need to go next. If we listen in, we will hear it. I encourage you to practice listening to your body throughout your day, every day. Instead of ignoring what comes up, get curious. In doing this, also take notice of your habits and patterns. Are they built on impulses? What if you didn’t react and took a few deep breaths instead?

Where is your urge to react stemming from? Are thoughts provoking it? Is it from something you are consuming (for example, sugar)? Are someone else’s actions triggering you? Spend some time introspecting to get to the root.

If you’re looking to make healthy lifestyle changes and want some guidance, support, and accountability, contact me at 917-318-1168 to discuss Health Coaching. As always, I invite you to join us at Ocean Bliss Yoga for yoga, Pilates, and more. Check our website at Private and semi-private sessions available. Contact me at 917-318-1168.

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