60-Second Nervous System Regulation Exercises for Stressful Moments

Published on 25 Jul, 2023

60-Second Nervous System Regulation Exercises for Stressful Moments [Ep 043 Show Notes]

When your heart starts pounding or your mind goes blank use these quick nervous system regulation exercises to restore balance to your mind and body.

Last week on the podcast I talked about the role our nervous system plays in our health and well-being. (Listen to episode 042: Understand Your Nervous System to Reduce Stress, here!) This system affects every process, conscious and unconscious, that goes on in your body! So I’m not exaggerating when I say that these simple practices can have a profound effect on your stress levels and every other aspect of your health.

This week we continue to befriend and understand our nervous system. You can listen to the full episode, 043: 60-Second Nervous System Regulation Exercises for Stressful Moments, wherever you get your podcasts. Below is a brief summary.

This is a picture of a stressed out woman sitting at her desk with her hand on her forehead. There is a colorful bookshelf in the background. It links to a podcast epsiode and blog post about nervous system regulation exercises you can use to reduce stress and anxiety.

Use these simple and quick nervous system regulation exercises to sooth yourself in stressful moments.

Reflection Questions for Nervous System Regulation

Last week I asked you to take note of the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that you experience when your body goes into a stressed state. This week I invite you to also notice the actions that you feel inspired to take when you’re experiencing an acute stressful situation.

For example, I often have an intense craving for chocolate when a stressor pops up!

When our body identifies a threat (stressor) our stress response begins almost instantaneously, before our thinking mind has a chance to catch up. These actions are messages from our body that our nervous system needs a little TLC. So when we notice these actions we can slow down, acknowledge what’s going on, and use the nervous system regulation exercises below to bring balance to our system.

Reduce and/or Remove Stressors

Another thing that we can do to support the health of our nervous system is to reduce or remove the things in our life that cause a startle and stress response. This can be as simple as turning off the notifications on your phone or asking your coworkers to use less activating communication styles.

Nervous System Regulation Exercises

In today’s episode, I share three simple exercises you can use during acute moments of stress to sooth and regulate your nervous system.

These practices can help you…

    • First, bring awareness to what’s going on in your body.
    • Second, give your system some space so it can automatically do what it needs to do to bring you back into balance.
    • And finally, if your system is dysregulated and therefore you’re having a hard time getting back into that state of felt safety these exercises will help bring your nervous system back into homeostasis.

If you’d like to learn more about how these practices work please tune into the full episode.

Three Intentional Breaths

If you want to move into a more activated state lengthen your inhales. If you want to cultivate a sense of calm and relaxation lengthen your exhales. Your pulse quickens ever so slightly with each inhale and slows with each exhale.

Fingers and Toes Exercise

Bring your pointer finger and thumb pads together. Rub them together and notice the sensation of you to you. Notice the ridges of your fingerprint. After a few moments bring your two hands together. Rubbing fingers to fingers, palm to palm. Again noticing the different sensations this movement creates and any thoughts or feelings that arise.

Lastly, begin to intentionally wiggle and stretch your toes allowing your awareness to drop into your feet. As you release the exercise notice any shift in the way you feel.

Give Yourself (or Someone Else) a Hug

This can be an incredibly soothing practice. Embrace yourself gently and lean into it. You might notice yourself starting to rock back and forth automatically, and if not you can add in this gentle movement if it feels good. Hugging someone else or a pet is another great way to bring calm to your nervous system.

Notice how each of these practices makes you feel. Are they calming? Do they make you frustrated? Bored? There is no right or wrong answer here.

The next time you experience an acute reaction to stress I invite you to try one of these nervous system regulation exercises. These exercises are cumulative. Each time you repeat a practice you’re building your system’s capacity to self-regulate!

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This is a picture of Eva Peterson. She is the host of the Happy Me Happy Earth podcast and a life coach for changemakers and aspiring activists.

Welcome! I'm Eva, host of the Happy Me Happy Earth podcast and blog. This is a place for changemakers, advocates, and aspiring activists to learn, heal, and get inspired. As a certified Life Coach, Ayurvedic Health Counselor, and follow activist I'm here to support you in expanding your impact while thoroughly enjoying your life!

Self-care for Changemakers:
Be an Agent of Change Without Sacrificing Your Health