How to calm the nervous system
There are many factors of everyday life, work pressure, keeping up with family and friends, constantly being tethered to a screen that can cause us to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Often this leaves our nervous system feeling overworked and out of balance, resulting in burnout and fatigue.
A frayed and fatigued nervous system can be calmed and restored through practises of inner work and self care. Here is our guide to calming your nervous system, helping you reconnect to your mind and body.
Adopting a meditation practice in your everyday life can help lower stress, improve focus, and reconnect to you.
Start by trying to find 5 to 10 minutes each day to practise meditation. Take a seat, set a timer, notice your body, feel your breath, pay attention to your mind when it begins to wander. Acknowledge your wandering mind, be kind to it. Return your focus to your breath. When you’re ready to complete your meditation, gently ease yourself back into your surroundings, notice your thoughts and emotions, paying attention to how your body feels.
Through a small but intentional act of meditation once a day we can begin to practise mindfulness which helps us learn to recognise when our minds begin to run in overdrive, meaning we can take pause and choose what to focus on.
Moving your body in any way is a great way to calm your nervous system, one of our favourite ways to get our bodies moving is through dance. Dancing causes your body to release endorphins (the “feel-good” chemicals) in the brain, these act as natural painkillers and also improve sleep and help reduce stress. Try putting on your favourite playlist at home, maybe get a partner or friend involved, have some fun and feel yourself letting go of any stress or tension while you dance.
Much like dancing, the practice of shaking can also work to relieve stress. This form of meditation originates from the ancient Chinese healing practice of Qigong. It works by warming up the body through movement, loosening up any tension held in your mind and body, allowing you to let go of it.
Try this practise after a long day, to help you relax before bed time. Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart, start shaking your right arm, keeping your elbow and wrist relaxed. Move to your right leg, shaking it while keeping your hips, knee, ankle and toes loose and relaxed. Repeat this on the left side. Keeping your body loose and staying connected to your breath. Then shake your entire body, releasing tension from your jaw and shoulders, ensuring your joints are staying relaxed and your feet stay on the ground throughout. After a few minutes, slow down the shaking until your body has stilled. Do this with intention, to release stagnant energy from the body and awaken your inner Qi.
Yin Yoga is a practice based in ancient Chinese philosophies, it’s slower and more meditative in its form compared to other traditional types of yoga. The slowness of Yin Yoga puts the focus of the practice on deep connective tissue, joints and bones.
Poses should be held for an extended length of time (3 to 5 minutes or longer), this helps you to stretch and lengthen rarely-used tissues in your body while also teaching you how to breathe through discomfort and sit with your thoughts. The most common poses in Yin Yoga are seated or reclined positions as your muscles need to be fully relaxed, try pigeon pose or seated forward fold with a booster to support.
Here at Yougi, we believe that using essential oils can go a long way in helping us feel calm and grounded. There are a few ways essential oils can be used in our day to day lives. Adding an essential oil to a steam diffuser in your home can transform a space into a calm and safe sanctuary, allowing your mind and body to fully relax after a long day.
Try adding a few drops to a warm bath to create an intensely relaxing spa-like experience at home. Essential oils can also be added to a base oil, such as sweet almond oil, to create a body oil that can be gently massaged into the skin to further calm and relax the body.
Essential oils can also aid relaxation in breathwork. Here is how our Yougi founder Emily, uses essential oils with breathwork to help calm frayed nerves, “If I feel my anxiety rising this is a lifesaver. You can do it anywhere at any time. It lowers my blood pressure and brings me back into the moment. I carry some Soothe essential oil and massage in and cup my hands over my nose and mouth and breathe in for 7 seconds and out for 11 seconds.”
Sleep is just as essential to us as our need for water and food. Getting a full, deep, restful night's sleep is needed for our overworked nervous systems to repair and reset. Read our Journal post about what makes a good bedtime routine here.
Nature can be healing and soothing, being in and observing nature can reduce anger, fear and increase pleasant feelings. It also contributes to physical wellbeing by reducing blood pressure, heart rate and the production of stress hormones.
Try to get outside and be in nature once a day, soak up the sunshine and observe natural wonders of the world.