How to calm your nervous system

When you’re triggered by events outside of your perception of control, how do you feel? Do you feel angry, bitter, frustrated, small, depressed? Do you feel safe, supported, loved, understood?

What do you want to do when triggers arise? Do you want to run away, fight, retreat and hide? Do you want to smile and breathe deeply?

Usually, when something or someone happens to disrupt your sense of peace, it creates a cascade of chemical reactions in your body where you either feel safe – or not.

By being aware of being triggered, turning on your ‘observer mode’ and being here now, you take back your feeling of being in control.

Tips for building your central nervous system resilience:

1. Practice breath awareness – bring your attention to the tip of your nose, feel the cool air as you inhale, the warm air as you exhale. Gradually allowing your breath to deepen gives your adrenals (that sit on top of your kidneys) and internal massage from the diaphragm.

2. Calm your mind – place one hand across the base of your skull, the other hand across your forehead. Close your eyes and feel/visualise your breath moving in through your nose, through your lungs and down to your tummy and reversing on the exhale. This helps to calm the limbic centre in the base of your skull that stores memories and feelings and reprogram the prefrontal cortex in your forehead so that it remembers feeling calm.

3. Chant a Mantra – I am safe, I am calm, I choose to be here, or any Mantra that invokes peace.

4. Do slow, gentle flowing movement like dynamic seated or standing forward bends. Moving deliberately slowly, allows your mind to calm down, creating new neural pathways in your brain help you to cope better when stressed.

5. Bring attention to your body by placing awareness on different body parts in sequence. This is Yoga Nidra, or conscious relaxation, in a meditative state.

6. Smile with your eyes – this creates a feeling of peace and calm.

7. Stretch, bounce, shake – have you ever observed a dog after an altercation/bark session with another dog? They shake the energy off! You can too – and it’s fun to move your body differently.

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