It’s hard to feel safe sometimes in the modern world. Every crisis and catastrophe hits too close to home. If you are tuned into the world events and the stressors of your life to a great degree, then your nervous system can get overloaded. Your body can start to feel like the fight-or-flight adrenaline state is your natural and safest state.
But you can retrain your body, your emotions, and your mind to stay in a calmer state. Building any new habit can take time and include some discomfort, only you’re already uncomfortable with things, so let’s just lean into to the minor discomfort of trying something new.
As an empath and highly sensitive person, I had to learn coping skills for the intensity of the emotions I felt for the environment and fellow human beings or I was going to be swallowed in a puddle of anxiety and depression. In this article I share many techniques that I’ve explored, many of which are supported by science and human physiology. These coping skills and calming practices can help you, whether or not you’re an empath or highly sensitive person.
Included below is a list of things for you to try out that can help to soothe and regulate your nervous system. These all help promote emotional regulation and a greater state of peace and calm. Feeling grounded, present, and calm is essential to clear thinking and more pleasant emotions (its one of the reason I start every coaching session with a few moments of getting present, grounded and calm).
Everyone and each body is different, so I would experiment with which ones make you personally feel good. Some people love meditating and find it calming- other people find it makes things worse.
There is not a right or wrong with this, simply a matter of trying things out to see what helps you to feel good.
Activities to Explore to Calm & Regulate your Nervous System
- Physical movement- you’ll have to decide what helps you- sometimes that might be a walk, vigorous exercise- for me that’s pulling weeds or shoveling. If you don’t like vigorous exercise, a walk or hike is good.
- Take deep breaths. Breath out a deep sigh that you can hear out loud as you exhale. Deep breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which can help to relax your whole body
- Listen to Calm Music or Meditative music. I like the Solfeggio frequencies on YouTube. There are a lot of different ones. I find 542 hertz very calming.
- Take breaks to be mindful. Practice 5 minutes of mindfulness 2-3 times a day.
- Put your hand on your heart and remember a moment you felt totally loved and safe. Breathe and remember this for 20-30 seconds.
- Shaking- full body shaking or dancing that uses your whole body. You know, shake it off.
- Hugs- hug yourself, hug a loved one. If you like physical touch, hug your husband more give yourself hugs, get a massage once a week, take baths physically move your body take lots of walks. Weighted blankets or heavy blankets/other weights pressing on your body. Yoga or lots of stretching can also have this same effect.
- Nature: walking in nature, driving in nature, or drawing nature. Sitting outside on a picnic blanket and letting yourself relax and soak up the good air and beauty. I created the online program Nourish with Nature to help people to tune into the peace and calm of the natural world on a daily basis and connect to the beauty, awe, wonder, and peace of the wonderous planet where we live.
- Creative activities: doodling, drawing, playing with play dough, knitting, tracing designs, playing in sand, coloring, etc. Experiment and explore if you don’t have a creative pursuit already.
- Journaling and expressing your thoughts and feelings in a safe way. Naming or listing the things going on to get them out of your head and put them down on paper.
This list is not extensive. Consider it a starting place for you. Think of what you have done in times past when you wanted to feel better and you chose a healthy choice to express emotions, take a break, or to relieve the burden of stress. What did you do? Did you watch something that made you laugh and relax? Did you let yourself cry and sing loudly to sad songs?
Remember, you are not alone in your pain. Whether it is a personal pain or pain for the collective. If you are going through a tough time, please seek out help and support for yourself. Maybe that support is a coach & intuitive like myself, or maybe you need a friend or therapist. Its ok to ask for help. No one was meant to do this alone. You are a beautiful human being, deserving of hope, happiness, and health. Wishing you peace and calm today.