Turn off anxiety in your Nervous System: 10 ways to regulate your nervous system

anxiety blog post

“Let your mind and heart rest for a while. You will catch up, the world will not stop spinning for you, but you will catch up. Take a rest.”  –Cynthia Go

Stress and Anxiety: Friends or Foes?

Hi there, and thanks for joining me here today. It is always my hope to give you relief in many forms, and today’s post is no different.

Let’s talk about stress and anxiety—and how to turn them OFF through nervous system regulation.

Though these two elements of being human evolved out of healthy fear that keeps us out of danger, when stress and anxiety get too big and loud and constant, your whole life suffers—needlessly.

Fight-Flight-Freeze-Fawn: allies in emergencies—enemies otherwise

If you encounter a cougar on your next hike in the mountains, your urge to flee is your best friend at that moment. 

If you witness someone hurting someone else, your urge to fight gets you to call for help and try to assist the victim or distract the assailant. 

But when these bulwarks of your sympathetic nervous system stay in current “on” mode, it can be super hard to shut them down and return to a sense of calm over time.  

And that’s what happens when we encounter mounting, but not emergent, every-day stressors. Because the frazzle of our everyday lives can become relentless with the family juggle, work deadlines, and chore management.

Your Nervous System Can’t Tell the Difference

Your nervous system reads this stress as a “thing,” and turns on. But, because the stressors continue for prolonged periods, you never get the chance to come down from your hyper-vigilance to rest and recover before the next trigger.

 This is how anxiety can take hold of your everyday existence—you stay on alert, but there’s no emergency to grab your attention, so instead you ruminate and worry about every worst-case scenario or negative rabbit hole of doom—whether they actually happen or not. 

BTW—freezing (the inability to take action) and fawning (being a tireless people-pleaser or saying yes when you want to say no) are ALSO hallmarks of an overactive sympathetic nervous system.

Regulation, Not Elimination

Let’s lay out how to dial in this vital part of your “protection system,” so it does its job but nothing more. I hope you’ll watch my free video with these tips and more info on your sympathetic nervous system HERE as well. 

We NEED our four Fs of our sympathetic nervous system–for SURE. (Remember that cougar? You wouldn’t want to be caught flat-footed out there on the trails…)

BUT, let’s outline some simple tools to help you calm down in the face of both emergent and continual stress—so you can feel MORE empowerment, agency, and relief in your body and brain each week.

Great ways to self-soothe (Hint: what do babies love?)

  1. Rocking, wrapping up in a blanket, slow and gentle music, a quiet room. These are all tools we use to calm babies when they get upset. YOU can benefit from the same tools, so try a few of them the next time you get amped up and cannot calm down.
  2. Place your hand to your heart. Rest it there, or move it in slow gentle circles. Repeat the phrases, “I am safe, I am loved, I am ok.”
  3. Slow your breathing—especially your exhale. Try doubling the length of your exhale compared to your inhale.
  4. Let your breath make a sound (like a hum, audible sigh, or an “oooooohhhhh” as you breathe out.)
  5. Lay a weighted blanket upon your legs or abdomen. 
  6. Talk to a trusted friend, neighbor, or family member and ask them to just listen (one who won’t judge you for what you may be feeling or experiencing.)
  7. Move your body—gently or vigorously. (Sometimes one or the other will feel more effective depending on your mood or the triggering event or circumstance.)
  8. Cold water running over your hands or splashed on your fact.
  9. Put some sun on your face. (Nature often gives us a better perspective and a time-out from stress.)
  10. Shake. (Seriously, animals do this after traumatic or stressful events. Once the danger has passed, they tremble for a few minutes, and then move on with their lives.)

As a BONUS, I highly recommend practicing these self-soothing strategies when they aren’t needed so that your mind and body can remember them when they are necessary.

And finally…

Join me to move and meditate

I’m excited to offer a 6-week guided pathway toward self-care that feeds your foundation of satisfaction, contentment, and body ease.

I’d love for you to learn more about how we do this on our website.  When you click the link, you’ll discover all the details of how to “move beyond damage control and into whole body fulfillment and self-trust.”

Remember to visit our website for all the details on how to make this level of self-care and transformation a reality for you. 

Take good care,

Sara

About the author, Sara

Sara is the founder of The Mindful Movement and the owner of Coreworks Fitness, a Pilates and Yoga studio in MD. Sara is also a Pilates and CoreAligh Master instructor with Balanced Body.

Sara is passionate about helping others grow and live mindful, fulfilled lives. She helps others move better, feel better, live with a deep awareness, gratitude and their whole heart. She strives to inspire others to live authentically and passionately in love and abundance.

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Whether this is your first time practicing meditation, or you have joined the journey with me to deepen or reignite your practice, I am grateful you are here now.

Know that this journey inward may not always be easy, but it can offer profound benefits when practiced regularly. And like any other skill, it takes practice and patience to experience progress.

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7-Day Meditation Course with
The Mindful Movement

“The past is gone, the future is not yet here.  If we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Whether this is your first time practicing meditation, or you have joined the journey with me to deepen or reignite your practice, I am grateful you are here now.

Know that this journey inward may not always be easy, but it can offer profound benefits when practiced regularly. And like any other skill, it takes practice and patience to experience progress.

Start, Deepen, or Re-ignite Your Meditation Practice With This FREE 7-Day Foundations of Meditation and Mindfulness Course