The nervous system is a complex part of the body. It is responsible for regulating stimulus, sensation, and signals and coordinates its activity based on the information it receives. It then sends instructions to the rest of your body, “advising” it on how to react.
However, the nervous system isn’t spot on all of the time. It can get into a panic over things that aren’t that big of a deal, or it can have difficulty calming back down after going into overdrive. This can affect your ability to concentrate and perform daily tasks. So, how can you manage this? Here are 5 super quick ways to calm your nervous system right now.
1. Engaging your sense of touch has a positive effect on calming the nervous system
Your senses are powerful and insightful, and the ease with which they notice and interpret stimulus makes them ideal for rapid calming methods. To begin with, let’s talk about how you can engage your sense of touch to bring your nervous system to a more relaxed state:
Put on comfy clothing, cuddle a stuffed toy or pet, or wrap yourself in something warm and cozy. When you’re stressed out, this can help calm your nervous system and bring you to a more relaxed state.
· Use A Stress Ball
Stress balls and other similar stress-relieving mechanisms exist for a reason! When you get extremely aggravated, upset, or pent up, using one can help engage your muscles and work off the tension and emotion healthily.
· Splash Cold Water On Your Skin
Need a more invigorating awakening from a stressed state? Get some cold water and wash your hands, face, and neck with it. (If you can, taking a cold shower works too.) This can help to literally cool you down, calming your nervous system and putting it into a more relaxed state.
· Give Your Hands A Massage
Take some cream or lotion that you like and use that to give your hands a nice, calming massage. Rub the webbing between your fingers, each joint on every digit, flex your wrists, and clench and unclench your palms. The stretching massage takes a mere five minutes and has positive effects on anxiety and nervousness!
· Get A Tennis Ball Foot Massage
Any hard, round ball of appropriate size will do for this. Place it beneath your feet and roll it under the arches of each sole. Do this gently and press more firmly in tender areas. It’s a great, simple massage you don’t even have to stop your tasks for!
· Give Your Scalp A Massage
Contrary to popular belief, the best scalp massage doesn’t use one of those head-scratching devices. Instead, it involves gently tugging at your hair so you can feel a minimal lifting of your scalp to reduce head tension and relieve your stress. You can follow that up with a warmer massage after, too!
· Attempt Acupressure
Have you heard of acupuncture? Well, this is that, but without the needles! It involves finding the pressure points on your body and massaging them to help relieve feelings of stress and promote general physical healing, say studies. You can try it out by finding the divots where your skull meets the muscles of your neck and pressing down on them for around 15 seconds.
2. Engage Your Nose
As previously mentioned, engaging your senses offers some of the quickest nervous system relief. Your sense of smell takes notes of new scents quickly and can derive pleasure and enjoyment from them for better positive thinking. Here are some ways to calm your nervous system through your sense of smell:
· Smell Citrus Scents
Sweet orange scents have been proven to have positive effects on overall mood. Enjoying orange-scented items can bring those calming effects over you in times of stress. You can also peel and eat or juice an orange for an even fresher approach!
· Be Around Flowers
If you can, regularly buying fresh flowers to keep near your working area or in your home can be a great way to engage your senses and calm your nervous system. If not, you can also head outside and find flowers in parks and public gardens. A good stroll among the wonderful floral scents can help to relax you.
· Wear Some Scents
Perfumes, colognes, lotions, and creams are a great way to apply scents directly to your body so you can carry their calming effects around. Plus, you’ll smell great to boot!
· Try Some Aromatherapy
Essential oils, placed in diffusers, make for delightful and relaxing scents that you can enjoy easily and quickly. You can also mix essential oil into a carrier oil so that it’s safe for your skin and apply it to your hands to bring the scent around with you. Calming oils can help to stimulate the smell receptors and reduce anxiety and stress. The best one is lavender essential oil, which has been proven in research to have incredible effects on the body, such as blood pressure reduction, better sleep, depression and anxiety reduction, higher pain tolerance, and improved wellbeing.
3. Engaging Your Muscles and Body Can Calm The Nervous System
The nervous system’s overactivity can cause significant physical responses in your body. Helping to express the built-up tension by moving your body and working your muscles can quickly bring balance back to your hormones and the nervous system. Here are some ways to do so:
You don’t have to work out with complex yoga poses for an hour to get the benefits of a simple stretch or two. Stretching your arms, legs, and back in a simple, quick fashion can promote better blood circulation and calm your nervous system.
· Go For A Walk
Take a quick walk around the room, to the bathroom, or out for a coffee or snack. The act of stretching your legs and moving about will help relax your mind, and the change of scenery adds to those restorative effects.
· Put Up Your Legs
Most people spend most of their time upright. Raising your feet, whether just by lying down and reclining with a footstool or by completely putting your legs up against a wall, can provide restorative effects to the mind and body. Your calves and legs will thank you for the rest, and your nervous system will focus on balancing itself out.
· Get Moving
Doing a physical activity that increases your heart rate boosts circulation, creates positive hormones, and helps you burn off stressed or nervous energy. A quick, intense bout of exercise for just a couple of minutes can be all you need. Do some push-ups, dance, run in place, do a couple of jumping jacks, or try to do burpees!
4. Engage Your Sense of Taste (and Digestion) For The Nervous System
Once again, we return to the almost magical effects of engaging your senses to help relax the nervous system. Your tastebuds can send a lot of different signals to your brain and help you feel better, but if you make the right food choices, you’ll also get the added benefits of whatever the food is and its components. Here are some options to try when you need to calm down:
· Eat Some Chocolate
Dark chocolate is a guilt-free sweet treat, and just one square has the effective ability to calm the nervous system. Studies show that it can reduce stress levels, improve the health of your brain, and fill those sweet cravings well.
· Eat Some Mango
Mangos are a great mix of sweet and sour, making them ideal for waking up your system and bringing its attention away from your worries. More interestingly, it contains linalool, a compound that has positive effects on anxiety and stress.
· Green Tea
Green tea contains a chemical known as L-Theanine, which studies say has positive effects on the stress responses of the body. It also tastes soothing and smells relaxing, which is an additional bonus.
· Have Some Honey
Honey is famous for its calming properties, and research shows that it fights depression, reduces anxiety symptoms, gives quick energy, and helps to keep the brain strong and healthy. Better yet, it’s versatile, so you can eat it straight from the jar, mix it into drinks, or eat it with fruit, yogurt, or other healthy snacks.
· Chew Some Gum
5. Engage Your Mind
Your mind is the source of the worst of your stress and anxiety, and if your nervous system is in overdrive, going straight to the source of the problem is a great way to help. While not quick at first, learning to engage your mind and analyze your thoughts and mental state is a skill that you’ll get better and faster at over time. Here are some ways to do this:
· Envision Calm
Visualization is a great tool for relaxing the nervous system. Close your eyes and imagine your happy place, or imagine a positive outcome for things that have you stressed out. Visualize your body as a calm, relaxed vessel and release anxiety and stress with focus and care.
· Write and Reflect
If you’re really in the middle of a nervous system panic, grab a piece of paper or open a document or notepad on a device of your choice. Then, write away untethered about everything that’s stressing you out. Don’t hold back and write everything that comes to mind, even the irrational or mean things. You can also do this in a journal. Once you’ve done this, you’ll have expressed a lot of negative energy, and you can go back and reread this writing later to reflect on your emotions.
· Challenge Negative Thoughts
Many people experience negative emotions and thoughts that send them into panicked or nervous spirals, which the nervous system responds to in a rush. Learn to observe these negative thoughts and challenge them. Question their rationality, reiterate your ability to be strong in the face of hurdles, ask if this will matter in a few days, and replace the worst things with positive thinking.
The nervous system’s responses are crucial to everyday function, but wisdom is knowing when it’s time to get it to calm back down. Learning to communicate relaxation to your nervous system, so it reverts to a more positive state is useful, especially if you face many stressors in everyday life.