In today’s fast-paced world, one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical well-being is prioritize the health of your nervous system. By taking the time to calm and strengthen this vital system, you can create a sense of inner calm and increase our capacity to handle stress. Here are some simple, yet effective practices that can help you calm your nervous system and expand its capacity.
Focusing on slow, deep breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, which controls the parasympathetic nervous system and activates the body’s relaxation response. Practice diaphragmatic breathing by inhaling deeply through your nose, allowing your belly to rise, and exhaling slowly through your mouth. Aim for several minutes of focused breathing daily, especially during stressful moments.
Mindfulness meditation is a powerful practice that can be used to shift our internal state anywhere, anytime. By bringing attention to the present moment without judgment, we can reduce feelings of anxiety in both the mind and the body. Whenever you notice yourself feeling overwhelmed, direct your attention to the sensations of your body, and as thoughts arise, gently acknowledge them and let them pass.
Regular physical activity is beneficial for much more than just the way our bodies look on the outside. Engaging in even gentle movement, such as walking and yoga, releases endorphins known to reduce pain and increase feelings of well-being. Exercise also reduces the stress hormone cortisol and promotes the production of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters.