- Yoga (Restorative, Yin, Hatha, Somatic)
Through yoga you can learn a lot of different tools for regulating the nervous system. Gentle movement, meditation, breathwork, and guided imagery all stimulate the vagus nerve which has a direct impact on bringing you from a sympathetic ‘fight-or-flight’ state to a parasympathetic ‘rest-and-digest’ state.
Particularly soothing styles of yoga are restorative and yin yoga which can release deeply held tension, and hatha and somatic yoga which are gentle, soothing, movement-based practices.
Research led by the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation near Bangalore revealed that more active practices followed by relaxing ones, lead to deeper relaxation than relaxing practices alone.
2. Relaxing music
Create playlists to have collections of music that makes you feel calm and most at peace. Listen to particular songs or playlists regularly to bring yourself back into a certain mood or feeling. Keep them saved so they are easy to access whenever you need.
The vocal cords are connected to the vagus nerve so singing is a direct way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and destress. Whenever and whatever you love to sing, go for it. Sing in the shower, in the car, in front of an audience, wherever you feel comfortable.
A great way to get out of your head and into your body is through movement. Find ways to move your body in whatever way feels best to you. Running, cycling, tennis, dance. The more joy that it brings, the more it will be something you are inclined to repeat.
5. Meditation and Prayer
Finding consistent time for silence and allowing the mind to turn inward allows you to cultivate self-awareness and the ability to tune into how you are feeling at any moment. The more often you reach a meditative state, the easier it becomes to reach, especially in times of need.
Incorporating a mantra or prayer can be transformational and soul-soothing and deepen a spiritual connection.
The nervous system is attached to our five senses. The intensity of the brightness or angle of overhead lights can be overwhelming and can lead to physical stress for the eyes and the body. Candles, lamps, twinkle lights, or dimmers can be great alternatives to overhead lights because of their calming effect.
Aromatherapy is a powerful way to transform one’s mood and reduce body tension and emotional stress. Scent impacts the limbic lobe of the brain, which is also the center where our emotions emanate from.
Certain essential oils can help one to relax and evoke different emotions. They can be utilized to help bring more ease to the body. Scents like lavender, vetiver, bergamot, frankincense are known for their peaceful effect.
In the cool fall, a warm cup of herbal tea, or soup is a cozy companion. Feel the heat of the item, taste the aromatic flavors, and notice how it feels as it washes down your throat and belly. Savoring food and drinks draws in feelings of comfort.
Starting your day with water and staying hydrated throughout the day provides excellent support for the nervous system.
If your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is in overdrive, your brain may perceive even the slightest bit of dehydration as a danger, which further activates the SNS.
Increasing your water intake lets your brain know everything is working as it should and enables other systems in the body to operate optimally.
To ease suffering, practice self-compassion, and self-care. Practice affirmations, call a friend for support, take an epsom salt bath, simply place your hand on your heart.
An acupuncturist can evaluate your symptoms and how you are feeling emotionally and gently place needles in the body to bring about homeostasis in the body and the mind. It can target specific muscles or tissues, or energetic channels in the body.
There are particular points in the body that are known for having a calming effect on the nervous system and allow one to feel a greater sense of relaxation and well-being.
Ultimately, be gentle with yourself and strive to find the right combination of calming practices that work best for you.