Regain Control Of Your Nervous System! Five Healthy Stress-Response Practices
Pupils dilated, heart racing and shoulders touching our ears, we walk around ready to flee from short-term, impending danger. While this is a necessary response for survival, continual nervous system activation leads to chronically high levels of stress hormones .
Our health deteriorates. We become irritable, stressed, angry, sleep deprived, and tense. Digestion and immune function plummet in an attempt to divert resources to functions necessary for staying alive.
Stress– whether physical (injury or illness), emotional, or from exposure to toxins or particular foods—is a key player in how our nervous system responds to stress. With the increased pace of daily living and the growing screen time, it’s no wonder our nervous systems are overburdened and we live our lives as if always running a marathon.
As modern living makes us “more productive,” our health suffers and we live as automatons. This isn’t (and shouldn’t be) our fate. Simple mindset shifts will calm your nervous system.
Over time, you’ll experience improved digestion, elimination, muscle relaxation, and a sense of calm. You’ll be less likely to react out of anger and more likely to respond with repose. Here are five simple ways to calm your nervous system and experience living.
SEE ALSO: Did Jesus Meditate?
1. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Gratitude is acknowledged love. Five minutes a day, focus on and record all for which you are grateful, small or large. Begin by concentrating your attention on three to five distinct things, events, or people rather than a broad concept.
Begin by concentrating your attention on three to five distinct things, events, or people rather than a broad concept.
When you narrow your attention on feelings, emotions, relationships, things, and events, you shift your mindset from negative to positive. This activates your parasympathetic nervous system.
2. Connect with Nature
Take a stroll outside each day (without your phone or music playing). Make it a moving meditation by focusing on your breath or experiencing the sensations of your body (start with your feet and move up to your head). Appreciate the surrounding sounds. Practiced attentiveness [
Make it a moving meditation by focusing on your breath or experiencing the sensations of your body (start with your feet and move up to your head). Appreciate the surrounding sounds.
Practiced attentiveness is a powerful way to calm your nervous system.
3. Bring Yoga to the Table
Eat while you’re relaxed. Take bites; don’t gulp your food.
Chew your food until it’s paste-like and set down your utensils between bites.
Deep inhales and long exhales between bites will help you connect with your body’s hunger signals and encourage digestion.
4. Practice Box Breathing
Sit in a comfortable position. Relax your hands on your thighs and close your eyes. Inhale through your nose to the count of four, hold your inhale to the count of four, exhale through your mouth to the count of four, and hold your exhale to the count of four.
Work your way up to repeating this cycle for four minutes.
Feel free to adjust the count of the breath to whatever is comfortable for you. Follow your breath and the sensations in your body to activate your parasympathetic nervous system.
5. Cultivate Proper Sleep Hygiene
If you don’t sleep well, your body responds by releasing cortisol, a stress hormone.
Sleep is an undervalued health tonic and something your nervous system loves. It’s a restorative process that rejuvenates your tissues and cells and enables the body to recover from bouts of stress that occurred throughout the day.
Unplug from technology at least 30 minutes before going to bed, wear blue-light blocking amber glasses to promote your body’s natural production of melatonin, sleep in a dark room, and keep a cool room temperature.
Sleep is composed of 90-minute cycles, and you’ll reap the most benefit when you wake after a full cycle as opposed to in the middle of a sleep cycle (aim for 7.5 or 9 hours of Zzzzzs).
Remember, stress is a part of life. The key is to fill a toolbox with healthy stress-response practices.
These five easy mindset shifts will help you to buffer stress, leaving you calmer and healthier than ever!
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