top of page
  • Writer's pictureJessicah Walker Herche, PhD, HSPP

Three Things To Do Now To Regulate Your Nervous System

Those of us with more sensitive nervous systems, regardless of the origin (e.g., trauma, high sensitivity, etc.) have a bit more work to do with learning how to regulate our emotions. There is a misnomer in the world today that the hallmark of emotion regulation is remaining calm. Thankfully, this is not true. Emotion regulation is not called calm regulation, and for good reason. 


Calm is not always what is needed. 

However, what is needed in any moment when the nervous system is activated is to feel bigger than our emotion. If your emotion is bigger than you, then you are likely to misstep and experience regret later. When your emotion is bigger than you, you cannot take in the emotion as data, which then can inform your next steps. At the end of the day, the purpose of emotion is to provide you with data about your needs, about what is and is not going well, so that you can then strategically approach getting needs met and making appropriate changes. 


Emotion regulation, then, is not the experience of calm. It is the experience of being bigger than your emotion so that you are in charge of deciding how to best move forward in the moment based on many sources of data, including emotion. 


Okay, so how do we get bigger than our emotion? 


How do we right-size our emotion? There are so many ways. Here are just a few ideas for you to try. Practice these and decide whether or not they help you to feel bigger than your emotion and stabilize your nervous system in the moment.


  1. Breathwork. Breathwork existed before influencers made it popular. There are so many different types of breathing practices and so many benefits as well. An easy – yet powerful – breathing exercise that is worth practicing is Breath of Fire. This type of breathing works on your endocrine system, which affects your emotions and your sense of wellbeing (among other things). Although in true yogi fashion you should practice breath of fire while sitting in easy pose with your eyes closed, that’s not always possible. Try to at least be in a position that keeps your spine in good alignment and your core engaged. Begin by inhaling and exhaling evenly through the nose, rapidly and strongly, for 7 minutes. At the end of 7 minutes, take in a deep inhale and slowly exhale. What do you notice? 

  2. Go pick some weeds in your yard. There is something about picking weeds that is soothing and cathartic. Perhaps it is because your whole body and senses are involved, as you kneel and stand and kneel again, as you smell the grass and greenery, so close to the earth, feeling dirt on your hands and in your fingernails, hearing the birds chirp, looking for the next weed to pull, the satisfaction of clearing up a spot in your yard, making it weed-free. Before you know it, you are thinking about nothing except which weed you will pull next. As you return to the present moment and reflect on whatever big emotion you were feeling just a few moments earlier, notice what has shifted. 

  3. Dance to your favorite music – shake it out. Shake your body. Dance to your favorite dance music. Whatever will get you to set your body free and just be in the moment. Shaking our body in this way, dancing vigorously, stimulates the part of our nervous system that says, “You are safe. You can relax. You are okay.” Dancing and shaking until your body involuntarily gives a deep sigh of relief, about 5-7 minutes, can result in a powerful shift in your nervous system and your ability to regulate your emotion. 


And with any practice, practicing these techniques before you need to use them is a great way to bolster their effectiveness. So, practice one or all of these daily to help increase your ease of using them for when you really need them to feel bigger than your emotion.


Seeking Professional Help: If you have a sensitive nervous system or have experienced trauma and want support in learning how to regulate your emotions, working with a trauma therapist who understands can be life-changing. To find out more about trauma therapy, please call or text 317-747-0574 or visit our contact page


Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional psychological care, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 


Comments


bottom of page