Navigating the Storm: Best Practices for Regulating Your Nervous System
We all experience stress and anxiety in our daily lives, and these feelings can easily spiral out of control, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and depleted. Our nervous system plays a crucial role in regulating these emotions and keeping us balanced. By practicing the best techniques for regulating our nervous system, we can find peace, reduce stress, and improve our overall well-being.
This blog will explore some of the best practices for regulating the nervous system, including breathwork, float therapy, meditation, supplementation, spending time in nature, and yoga or exercise.
Understanding the Nervous System
Before we dive into the best practices for regulating the nervous system, it’s important to understand how it works. Our nervous system has two main branches: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The SNS is responsible for the “fight or flight” response, while the PNS is responsible for the “rest and digest” response. When we experience stress or anxiety, our SNS kicks in, increasing our heart rate and breathing, and preparing us to take action. When we’re relaxed and calm, our PNS takes over, slowing our heart rate and breathing, and allowing our body to rest and rejuvenate.
Breathwork is a powerful tool for regulating the nervous system. By focusing on our breath and slowing down our breathing, we can activate the PNS and reduce the effects of the SNS. One popular breathwork technique is called “box breathing,” where you inhale for four counts, hold your breath for four counts, exhale for four counts, and hold your breath for four counts. Repeat this pattern for several minutes, focusing on your breath and allowing your body to relax.
Another breathwork technique is called “diaphragmatic breathing,” where you breathe deeply into your belly, rather than shallowly breathing into your chest. This type of breathing can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
Float therapy, also known as sensory deprivation therapy, involves floating in a tank of warm water that’s saturated with Epsom salt. This allows you to float effortlessly, and the lack of sensory input can be incredibly calming for the nervous system. Float therapy has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and improve sleep quality.
Meditation is a practice that involves quieting the mind and focusing on the present moment. This can be done through guided meditations, mindfulness practices, or simply sitting in silence. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and increase feelings of well-being.
Certain supplements can also be helpful for regulating the nervous system. Some of the most popular supplements include magnesium, which can help promote relaxation and reduce stress, and ashwagandha, an adaptogen that can help the body cope with stress and anxiety. It’s important to speak with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplements.
Spending Time in Nature
Spending time in nature can be incredibly grounding and calming for the nervous system. Research has shown that spending time in nature can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and improve mood and cognitive function. Whether it’s going for a hike, taking a walk in the park, or simply sitting outside and enjoying the sunshine, spending time in nature can be a powerful way to regulate your nervous system.
Yoga or Exercise
Yoga and exercise are also great ways to regulate the nervous system. Both practices can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and promote relaxation. Yoga is especially effective, as it combines physical movement & breathwork.
In addition to yoga and exercise, mindful movement practices such as Tai Chi and Qigong can also be helpful for regulating the nervous system. These practices involve slow, deliberate movements that are synchronized with the breath, promoting relaxation, and reducing stress. Mindful movement practices can be especially helpful for those who find traditional exercise too intense.
Getting enough sleep is essential for regulating the nervous system, and poor sleep can lead to increased stress and anxiety. Practicing good sleep hygiene, such as avoiding caffeine and electronics before bed, keeping a consistent sleep schedule, and creating a relaxing bedtime routine, can help promote better sleep and improve overall well-being.
By incorporating these best practices into your daily routine, you can effectively regulate your nervous system and reduce stress and anxiety. Remember that everyone is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Experiment with different techniques and find what works best for you.