March 10, 2023
Your parasympathetic nervous system is a network of nerves that controls the bodies ability to relax and helps calm your body after periods of stress. Its partner is the sympathetic nervous system which controls the body’s fight or flight mechanism. It also helps run important processes, like digestion, during times when you feel safe and relaxed. This is why it’s sometimes referred to as the “rest and digest” state.
You can easily learn to turn on the parasympathetic nervous system and calm anxiety quickly by doing one of these three simple techniques!
This technique is a breathing pattern consisting of two inhales through the nose followed by an extended exhale through the mouth. It reduces stress by decreasing the C02 levels in the lungs which brings the autonomic nervous system in to balance and regulates your emotional state. You can do this anywhere anytime with out anyone even noticing! Whether you’re in a stressful meeting or on a crowded train you can quickly turn to this for help.
Inhale deeply but before you get to the top, take another inhale
Expel all your air with an exhale through the mouth
Putting your face in water can activate the parasympathetic nervous system which prompts the body to relax. Put your face for five to ten seconds in cold water (you can dunk it in to a bowl) or run cold water on your wrists. You can repeat until you feel calm. A quicker alternative would be to splash cold water on your face. If you can’t access water in the moment, you can also try an ice pack on your face or or on the back of the neck!
Firm, gentle and consistent pressure on the body can help you feel calmer and help in moments of anxiety. Deep pressure touch helps regulate the parasympathetic nervous system by helping the body produce neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin that make you feel good!
My favorite way to do this is with a weighted blanket. Other great ways are jumping/stomping your feet, a stress ball, chewing gum and tight hugs.
The next time you are feeling anxious try on of these three categories of ways to regulate your nervous system and see how quickly you can come back into your body and be centered! For more ways to regulate your nervous system check out my weekly tips on instagram.