10 Ways to Regulate Your Nervous System That Isn't Meditation!
by Science-Based Intuitive Eating Coach Victoria Evans
Not a fan of meditation but feeling hella overwhelmed and need to regulate your nervous system? Well then this is for you so keep reading!
(Psst....I do recommend meditation as one of the best techniques you can engage in, but I know that it isn’t always easy to get yourself to do it which is why I have compiled a toolbox of other tools to help you).
The reality is that everything we do, say and feel is dictated by our nervous system. If it feels like it is under attack and is unsafe, then our body will do everything it can to protect itself.
Oftentimes, however, this protecting itself from an attack isn't one that is in reality life threatening.
Meaning the email from the boss, not fitting into a certain size jeans, traffic on the way to work, comparing and despairing on social media, etc, can all be ways that our body, our nervous system feels unsafe.
This is tough because not only do we then operate from a constant state of fear which is exhausting, but also if we ever want to change our behaviors and change our life, we need to first regulate our nervous system. This is because if we do not feel safe, then we will be unable to grow, unable to try new things because growth requires discomfort and discomfort means unfamiliar, and unfamiliar to our brain means unsafe.
This article will give you a toolkit of simple yet powerful tools that will help create pattern interrupts in order to help you calm and regulate your nervous system.
Once feeling regulated, you'll be able to start the deeper healing and implement real and long-lasting change in your life. Of course, this is my specialty when I work with clients on regulating their nervous system, creating a life of food body freedom. So by the end of this article, if you like what you're hearing, then you're definitely going to want to check out my coaching programs so that you can truly integrate this work into your life in a very real way.
1. Shake your body
Shaking helps to release muscle tension and burn off excess adrenaline. It is also a great pattern interrupt that forces you to focus on something else other than feeling anxious.
Literally shake out your hands, shake your head, sway side to side, jump up and down, just move your body all around (yes it will feel goofy, but also yes it will work). If you're out in public, find a bathroom stall to do this in real quick!
2. Lie On The Floor
This forces the body into a more natural and neutral position that resembles one of safety. Chest is open which signals to our nervous system that we are not guarding our vital organs from a threat.
Lying on the floor also creates more body awareness through different pressure points being activated versus when standing or sitting. It is also literally grounding your body which your nervous system loves!
3. Mental Snapshot
This forces you to get out of your future-focused anxiety or past-focused depression and bring yourself to the present. How does it work? What are 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and one thing you can taste?
This is again a great pattern interrupt to get out of your brain and into your environment.
4. Cold Immersion
Doing this stimulates the dive reflex which is associated with stimulating the vagus nerve. Researchers have found that exposing yourself to cold on a regular basis can lower your sympathetic “fight or flight” response and increase parasympathetic activity through the vagus nerve.
How? Splash cold water on your face, take a cold shower, place an ice pack on your chest.
When we hug we release oxytocin which is a hormone known for bonding and connection. When it is released it helps our body feel safe, relaxed, and dialed into our social network. Family therapist Virginia Satir stated that “we need four hugs a day for survival, 8 hugs a day for maintenance, and 12 hugs a day for growth. So when in doubt, hug it out!
Breathing in specific ways activates the vagus nerve and puts you into a parasympathetic state which is the state we are in when we feel calm, safe, and at rest.
There are several techniques you can try including 4-7-8 breathing, inhale through the nose for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7 and exhale through the mouth for a count of 8, repeat 3-4 more times minimum.
Another option is box breathing, also known as tactical breathing or square breathing, and is famously used by Navy SEALs. Inhale through the nose for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale through the mouth for a count of 4, and hold the breath for a count of 4, repeating a minimum of 3 more times.
Pro-tip, think about breathing deep into the low belly and expanding outwards when you breathe as opposed to breathing high in your chest and breathing by moving your shoulders up and down. Think breathing out and not up and down.
Psst... I have specially recorded box breathing and 4-7-8 breathing exercises in the Craving Food Freedom Online Course.
Dance provides relief from stress and tension. Dancing elevates your dopamine and endorphin levels which are two neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of pleasure and happiness. Dancing also gives relief from muscle tension and can be an emotional release.
Put together a couple of playlists of songs you love to move to and let loose! Pro-tip, attend an ecstatic dance in your area if you can, these are my absolute favorite!
When our eyes detect sunlight it actually triggers the release of serotonin which is the hormone associated with happiness, feeling more relaxed, focused, and calm. Staying inside too much during the day and not getting enough sunlight can also mean that melatonin production is triggered which can make you feel lethargic and more down during the day. Bonus points are going for a walk outside and getting some sunlight!
9. Get Into Nature
Studies show that being in nature reduces cortisol (stress hormone), anxiety, anger, improves mood and overall well-being. If you can’t get into nature, even simply listening to nature sounds can have a very calming and soothing effect on our nervous system (I love to listen to rainforest and thunderstorm soundtracks on youtube).
When we sing we have a longer exhale than inhale which triggers our vagus nerve and puts us into a parasympathetic state. Singing also releases endorphins, oxytocin and provides an emotional release. So let out that inner Beyoncé!
Alright my friend, there you have it! 10 simple tools to regulate your nervous system that don’t involve meditation!
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I have gone ahead and created a free phone wallpaper that lists out all 10 tools so that you can easily have them ready whenever you need them!
You can download it now by simply entering your name and email address below!
You might be asking now what?
Well if you’re truly ready to take this work to the next level and heal your relationship with food and body once and for all then you’re definitely going to want to check out my 1:1 coaching program 90 Days to Food Freedom.
You can learn more about the program and book your free 30-minute consultation call on which we’ll determine what 3 things are currently holding you back from food freedom and determine if you’re a good fit for coaching, just click here the button below, woohoo!BOOK MY CONSULT CALL
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