We mostly live our lives in a rush throughout the day. Hence, when we finally take a break from the regular schedules, we are so exhausted that we are not able to enjoy the break completely. Such situations happen because of the nervous system not being regulated. In order to feel calm and composed, we need to down-regulate the nervous system first. Addressing this, therapist Anna Papaioannou wrote, “Down regulation is consciously practising supporting your nervous system to shift from sympathetic to a parasympathetic (social engagement) state. While it may seem complicated, down regulation practices can easily slip into your day-to-day life in just 5 minutes.”
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Anna further noted down a few ways to down-regulate the nervous system to feel calmer. “Give yourself the space to experiment with different practices to find what feels best for you, it may take some time, but your nervous system will love you for it,” she added.
Orient to your body: We need to start being aware of the way our bodies feel when we are exhausted or in the fight or flight mode. We need to start tuning in the heart rate and notice the tension in the neck and the posture. In such situations, we can also turn to something which can give us a sense of safety, such as a photograph, or a scent.
Psychological sigh: In this process, we need to inhale through the nose, take a pause and then inhale some more through nose again. We need to exhale the air slowly through the mouth for about 6-8 seconds. This process should be repeated for about two to three times.
Glimmers: Glimmers are the things that give us a sense of safety and happiness. They are the opposite of triggers. When we need to down-regulate the nervous system, we should seek for glimmers. We can also keep a list of five glimmers with us, and go in search of them when we need.
Social engagement: Humans are social beings and are wired to be in need of the presence of another. In times of distress, we should connect with other people whom we love and care for.
Cold exposure: Exposure to cold helps in increasing parasympathetic activity. Taking a cold shower or submerging the face in cold water helps in down-regulating the nervous system.