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4 Easy Exercises to Regulate Your Nervous System When You Need a Break

Our nervous system literally impacts every single thing we do. It impacts our ability to communicate, to do our work, to think, & to connect with other people.

Inevitably, we all have times where our nerves get the best of us.

~ Maybe you get stuck in cycling thoughts or critical thinking.

~ Perhaps you're in a conversation & realize that you feel stuck, blank, or frozen.

~ Maybe you are nervous about an an upcoming event & feel agitated, anxious, or jittery.

Of course, there are various reasons why we might feel dis-regulated. Some of these are a normal part of being human, while others may be the result of trauma or conditioning.

Whatever the reason, it's good to have tools to help support your system! From those that you can do in the moment (& are easy to hide) - to those that you can do in the car or in short periods.

Below are 4 easy exercises to help you regulator in the system when you just need a break.

1. Remind Yourself That This Will Pass.

You'll know you've become dis-regulated when you find yourself in one of the following scenarios.

  1. Fight: you're feeling overwhelmed in anger and desire to fight or explode.

  2. Flight: you're feeling anxious, ruminating in thoughts, or have an overwhelming urge to get away or crawl out of your skin

  3. Freeze: you've gone completely blank. You might even feel like your brain doesn't work, it's foggy, or that you're not able to speak or move

  4. Fawn: you become hyper-focused on the other person and how to make it good for them. Or you become submissive, saying yes because you think you should, disregarding your own needs, or feeling you you don't matter.

Here's the thing, when it comes to regulating your nervous system… It comes down to your nervous system. This means that regulation can only happen as quickly as your system is able to regulate. If you 'fight' yourself (e.g. Like getting angry at your self for not being different) chances are it will only make things worse.

Instead remind yourself that this will pass. This is not forever.

This will give your system a chance to regulate & you an opportunity to support it.

2. Orient

As animals, we naturally orient all the time. Anytime we arrive in a new scenario or situation we naturally scan the environment, take it into our senses, & ensure there are no threats. This is a biological & evolutionary process that connects to the oldest & most primitive parts of our brain.

To orient, first slow down.

  • Orient through sight: Notice what you see & take in your environment though your eyes.

  • Orient through sound: Notice the subtle sounds that you hear

  • Orient through sensations: Notice the sensation you feel on your skin, in your feet, or palms.

When you look around & take in your environment, you can signal to those old parts of your brain that you are safe, as long as there is no imminent threat present. For example, if you're at a party & feeling nervous take time to notice the colours in the shapes and the sounds in the room. This will help regulate your system, because those old parts of your brain will realize that there are no predators to be concerned with.

I am still surprised at how effective this practice is. I use it everyday & find it is often even more effective than deep breathing. The key is to slow down & really take it all in.

3. Physiological Sigh

When it comes to regulating your nervous system, researchers at Stanford University found that the physiological sigh is in effective way to help calm an activated system.

The practice is simple

  • Take a full inhale

  • Inhale a little more

  • And let it out with an exhale or sigh.

What's great about these first three exercises is that you can do them, relatively easily, without others noticing. Of course, sometimes we have more space or solitude. That is when the next practice can be very helpful.

4. Sounding Vooooo

As a singer, and voice coach I find that toning & singing has an incredible effect on the nervous system. Tones that allow us to extend our breath or connect to our belly are extra helpful.

Peter Levine, a pioneer in trauma resolution and the creator of a Somatic Experiencing offers a very simple practice of sounding 'Vuuuuu'. It's as easy as it sound.

  • Take a full inhale

  • Connect to your belly

  • As you exhale make the sound 'Vuuuuu'

I find this practice particularly useful when I'm feeling ungrounded or overly stimulated. You can enhance this practice by connecting firmly through your legs & pelvis & by gently engaging the belly as you make the sound. This creates a lower tone & helps create a sense of rootedness.

And, as a side note, it's not a bad little vocal warm up!

Well there you have it, for easy exercises you can do to regulate your nervous system. Try them out & if you like them please share this blog on social media or with your friends.

About the Author Amy Thiessen is a coach, writer, & musician who focuses on helping others find & express a their voice with resonance. Her unique approach works with the wholistic mechanism of voice utilizing somatic awareness, psychology, mindfulness, spiritual practice, & vocal techniques of toning & song.

Do you desire to move past the blocks that prevent your from speaking up or sining out? Do you find that you become ungrounded, dis-regulated, or simply don't have the language to say what you need to say. I can help. Book a free consultation to see if In Resonance Coaching is right for you.

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