Regulating my nervous system is something I struggle with on a daily basis. No matter what the reason, I find myself over-regulated or under-regulated often. Like I have too much energy or not enough. Like I can’t sit still or like I can’t move a muscle. But I’ve learned there are things I can do to regulate my nervous system.
It has become a daily practice. Learning how to adjust to regulate my nervous system. A practice that has taken me time to become acquainted with. Something I even used to get into trouble for.
I once had a job where my boss scolded me for getting up from my desk too often. She even tracked it in a spreadsheet and showed it to my supervisor, and I was docked a percentage of my raise as a result.
Then, I was upset with myself for doing it. Now, I know I was just trying to regulate my nervous system with movement. And, thankfully, I now work from home where I can get up from my seat as many times as I please—without anyone scolding me.
I’ve learned that when I either require too much movement or not enough that it’s an indication my nervous system is off. That I’m unregulated. And that I need to do something to even myself out.
I become unregulated when I’m emotionally upset too. If something bothers me, I usually end up feeling a surge of energy. A flood. And I have to move. I’ll straighten the house: make the bed, clean the floors, etc. anything that keeps me moving. Or I’ll freeze. Unable to move. Sitting in my discomfort. Which also, counterintuitively, means I need to move my body. So I’ll go for a walk or stretch. Moving, but as minimally as possible.
So if you ever sense your nervous system becomes unregulated—when you either have too much or too little energy—here are some tips for getting regulated again:
- Meditate. It took me years to learn how to meditate. How to focus on my breath. Now, I meditate every morning. The trick I use is doing a body scan—focusing on each part of my body, one part at a time. I find that doing this allows me to breathe into each part of my body and keeps my thoughts from taking over. Soothing my nervous system.
- Listen to brainwave activation music. It helps me feel balanced. My favorite is Steven Halpern’s Brainwave Synchronization for Meditation and Healing. It helps you get into a deep alpha state. Like when you’re reading. It’s important not to listen to this when you’re driving. You want to be in a more alert state while driving.
- Practice yoga. This doesn’t have to be an hour-long practice. Most days I practice yoga, it’s just five minutes. Five minutes of deep breathing. Of holding poses. Of stretching and getting into all my body’s crevices. Of connecting my mind and body, thus regulating my nervous system.
- Move. Whether it’s jumping jacks, walking or doing household chores, do something that gets your body moving. It’s important to remember that this is not just when you have a surge of energy, but when you feel immobile too. When I feel immobile, I usually just stretch.
- Journal. Keep track of when you feel different surges of energy. When you have a high or a low. And monitor what you do for it. How you handle it. How different circumstances affect it. What triggered it. Etcetera.
- Reflect. Look back at past experiences and, if you journal, look at past entries, and reflect on how you’ve handled your energy levels and how you’ve regulated your nervous system. Learn about yourself. And help yourself know how to stay regulated.
Regardless of what you do to regulate your nervous system, I hope you find the balance within yourself.
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