Radical Self-Care: How to Find Stillness in order to Regulate & Heal Your Nervous System
"Within you, there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself."
Stress and anxiety have become almost inevitable companions in our daily lives. Whether it's conflict at work, or at home, or in relationships, our bodies often bear the brunt of our daily challenges, leaving us feeling depleted and drained.
The nervous system is responsible for controlling and coordinating all the functions of your body, including your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations.
Fortunately, various holistic tools and practices can help us regain control over our nervous systems and find a sense of calm and equilibrium. In this blog, we'll explore various holistic approaches to regulate your system and nurture your overall well-being.
The Gift of Stillness
We each have a limited, finite amount of energy and when we're using it all to maintain our basic functions then we don't have space for creativity or service to others.
Our bodies have a permanent need for DEACTIVATION. This is a part of nature. Just like the seasons, trees lose their leaves, and animals hibernate in winter so that they can preserve energy and rebirth stronger in spring.
When we ignore our bodies need for stillness or rest, staying in a state of tension and activation, our nervous system slowly becomes less resourced and restored. Regulating the nervous system often comes down to finding moments of stillness.
It's not about doing more; it's about giving your body the gift of less.
We hear so much about self care, about the importance of spending time for yourself, doing things for you, for your mind, but so many of us unknowingly still struggle with executing self care effectively so we feel the positive impact.
Often times we genuinely just don’t know how to slow down. Learning to rest in the right ways that suit your body, mind and lifestyle is one of the most powerful skills and habits you can develop.
Rest is anything that makes our nervous systems feel safe enough for our stress response to switch off so our body, mind and spirit can recover and restore itself. This can be
Rest is a form of Radical Self-care. Rest is Resistance!
"Calmness is the cradle of power."
Josiah Gilbert Holland
Your Survival Defenses
When our energy levels drop, usually based on the time of day or due to accumulated stress, our body reacts accordingly.
When we fail to honor our systems needs, limits and capacity our nervous system does it itself through various survival defenses or trauma responses. We all have them to greater or lesser degree.
The "fight, flight, freeze, fawn" response refers to different ways individuals may react when faced with a threat, perceived danger or stressful or situation. These signs of anxiety, dysregulation and system-overwhelm are based on the body's natural instincts for self-preservation and protection.
Anger, Aggression, Rage
Defensiveness, Deflection, Blaming
Impulsivity, Loss of Control
Zoned out/Checked out
Lack of identity
It's important to note that individuals may display a combination of these responses depending on the situation, their personal history, and their coping mechanisms. These all are part of the body's natural stress reactions and can vary from person to person.
The emotional and behavioral symptoms of stress will eventually manifest into the physical body as well
Anxiety and Irritability: restlessness, irritability, racing thoughts
Mood Swings: agitation to sadness or anger.
Changes in Behavior: substance use, social withdrawal, impulsivity.
Cognitive Effects: poor concentration, memory problems, rumination
Unfortunately, when you're in survival mode and your nervous system is overactivated (or depleted) it's hard to
Make informed decisions
Make healthy choices
Start or finish tasks
Connect with others
You deserve better! Practice self care to recognize the signs when you are in a trauma response and be able to stay in your zone of tolerance.
Nervous system work can help to widen the window of stress tolerance, increasing your flexibility, and resilience to handle changes and shifts that are out of your control.
Your Health Barometer
Most of our chronic health problems can be attributed to dysregulation in our nervous system. Our physical symptoms and ailments often serve as signals from our bodies, attempting to communicate that something in our lives is amiss or out of balance.
Our bodies yearn for an internal environment full of
and, most importantly- safety
Your symptoms are indications that something in your life demands change. If your symptoms had the ability to voice their concerns, what might they express?
While it may not instantaneously change your life, expressing your frustrations IS a very pivotal aspect of the healing process. Remember, expression is what moves the body out of fight or flight!
Pay attention - is your body saying ‘no’ on your behalf? Is your chronic pain actually a mechanism of self-protection, removing you from situations or lifestyles that overwhelm you?
The most common physical manifestations of stress:
Pain & Tension: muscle tightness, headaches, migraines, or general body aches.
Digestive Issues: stomachaches, nausea, indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation.
Weakened Immune System: susceptible to illnesses and infections.
Changes in Appetite: overeating or undereating, weight gain or weight loss.
Sleep Disturbances: insomnia, fatigue
Respiratory Issues: asthma or causing shortness of breath.
Chronic stress, if left unmanaged, can have long-term health consequences, increasing risks of heart disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, mood disorders, and other serious health conditions.
Some of us who identify as Empaths or Nuerodivergent are born with energy sensitivities. Others develop sensitivities over time due to triggers in the external world, your life experiences and learned ideas of safety.
Having a highly sensitive nervous system means that you generally have BIG FEELS and mood shifts because your nervous system responds quickly and more deeply to external stimuli. You might notice yourself feeling activated by subtle things in your environment like smells, loud sounds, certain people etc
When faced with certain physical, sensory, or emotional stimuli, a sensitive nervous system can tip into over-drive and turn on the fight-flight-fawn-freeze response in order to protect you from what it perceives as danger.
When your nervous system's response to stimuli is regularly pushing you outside of your window of tolerance that is when you know you need to take measures to release, process and expand your system so it learns a new baseline of "normal. Through on-going, consistent attunement (check-ins) we can build an internal state of loving peace and safety.
"The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good."
A Healthy Response
Everyone has the capacity to widen their safety/comfort zone. A calm, content and regulated response to triggers or wound-activations looks like...
Feeling sensations in your body and then giving them space, leaning in
Feeling emotionally grounded and neutral
Breathing through discomfort til you get to a more relaxed neutral state
Choosing healthy coping strategies and self-soothing methods
Choosing to respond, rather than react, run or ignore
Giving yourself love and compassion for being human
Connecting to self and others
It's important to pay close attention to your physical responses to various situations. Observe how you feel when recalling past events, when irritated or frustrated, and when experiencing anger. These observations help us become aware of our attitudes, feelings, and reactions.
To deepen this awareness, find a quiet, comfortable space, close your eyes, and take deep, calming breaths. Reflect on how your body supports you and how you respond to this support. Express gratitude to your body for the moments when you feel calm, positive, and loved, and for the times when you experience positive self-esteem and leadership.
Conclude the meditation by thanking your body and your spiritual self for the good health and support they offer. With a sense of deep appreciation, slowly and gently return to your surroundings. This practice underlines the importance of taking responsibility for our attitudes and emotions, ultimately influencing our overall well-being.
"I always forget how important the empty days are, how important it may be sometimes not to expect to produce anything, even a few lines in a journal. A day when one has not pushed oneself to the limit seems a damaged, damaging day, a sinful day. Not so! The most valuable thing one can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of a room. "
Holistic Tools & Techniques
Nervous system regulation involves taking intentional steps to manage and maintain the health of your nervous system, which is one of highest forms of selfcare.
Taking care of your nervous system can help
boost energy levels
enhance cognitive function
support a healthy body
improve relationships with others.
By prioritizing nervous system regulation, you are prioritizing and investing in your overall health and happiness.
Below are some gentle grounding tools to help guide your nervous system back to a place of balance & calm. From here we can care for ourselves and others more deeply
Schedule your core healing practices in the morning when your system has more resources. In this way, you help the system to receive, process and integrate the practices.
Take notice of the state your nervous system may be in right at this moment. What are you noticing in your body? What does it feel like? What sensations are present? What feelings are coming up?
If you find yourself in a HYPER-aroused or HYPO-aroused state, it's important to tend to yourself more compassionately and more intentionally.
If you’re feeling triggered, remember to S.T.O.P:
Stop What You’re Doing. Pause for a moment. Don’t react in the heat of the moment or when your emotions feel intense. Honor the cycle of Activation/Rest throughout the day. When you don't, your body will do it for you through various survival defenses. Even pausing for a few moments matters.
Take a Step Back. Separate yourself from the situation for a moment. Take 3 deep breaths. Inhale through the nose and exhale out of the mouth to settle your nervous system.
Observe Observe your experience just as it is. Notice whatever thoughts, feelings, and sensations are present. Practice observing without judgment. As you learn to attune deeper to your system throughout the day, you'll notice the time when the defenses are dominant is less and less.
Proceed Mindfully. Think before acting. How would you like to respond? How will your actions impact you, others, & the situation? Act with intention.
This framework can help you practice responding mindfully so that you can react in a way that you feel good about.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to regulate your nervous system is through mindful breathing. Deep, slow diaphragmatic breaths help promote healthy lymphatic flow and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting greater relaxation. Incorporate deep breathing exercises into your daily routine, taking a few moments to inhale and exhale with intention. This practice can help reduce stress and improve your overall mental and emotional well-being
Inhale for count of 4, hold for 1, exhale count of 6
Generate heavy audible sighs
"Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment."
Thich Nhat Hanh
Meditation and mindfulness practices are powerful tools for regulating the nervous system. They encourage present-moment awareness and reduce the brain's stress response. Engaging the parasympathetic nervous system through meditation and mindfulness can help slow down your heart rate and lead your body into a state of relaxation. Regular meditation not only calms the mind but also enhances your ability to handle stress, promoting emotional resilience and balance. Meditation helps us stop worrying about things you can't control
Rest & Regeneration
Getting adequate and consistent sleep is essential for regulating the nervous system and reducing stress levels. Another big part of healing is allowing yourself to slow down to just be, and just listen to what your body is asking for. Dedicate your time to which ever SINGULAR task you choose that regulates your nervous system and allows your mind and body the best possible chance to recover and restore This may look like:
Going to bed early or sleeping in late
Taking afternoon naps
Unplugging from all technology and screens
Having a "do-nothing" day or weekend
Allowing others to take care of you
Asking for help
Turning off all sources of light or sound
"Instead of asking 'Have I worked hard enough to deserve rest?' start asking, 'Have I rested enough to do my most loving, meaningful work?'"
Distracting and refocusing your mind can be very helpful, especially when you feel yourself spiraling. Aim to activate all your senses. Practicing intentional sensory deprivation - cecreasing screen time and disengaging from technology is also extremely important. Reduce your mental stimulation and allow your mind to take long periods of time off from the consumption of media.
Do a body scan, checking in with all parts of your body
Think of .... 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear , 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste
Close your eyes and imagine your ideal paradise- what does it look like, feel like, sound like?
Count backwards from 100
Count something you can see, like books on a shelf
Eat slowly and savor every bite
Designate 'Digital Detox Days' and focus fully on off-grid activities or hobbies
Create screen-free zones in your home
Be intentional with your screen time, making sure your time is productive or enjoyable so you don't get lost in mindless scrolling
Journal about whatever is on your mind or all of the things you're grateful for
Read a book
"Switch your phone off, tune in to your body and breath and watch. as all of the missed calls and unread messages come in from your Higher Self and Spirit."
Conscious or Intuitive Movement
Physical activity is one of the most effective ways to stimulate lymphatic flow and the bodies natural detoxifying functions. Activities like yoga can have a profound soothing impact on your nervous system because it combines breath control, movement, and mindfulness, making it a holistic approach to reduce stress, improve sleep, and boost overall well-being. Other forms of restorative movement can help release excess adrenaline and stuck energy in the nervous system.
The Legs Up the Wall pose
Walking, jogging, rebounding, swimming
Many herbs and plant-based remedies have calming and soothing properties for the nervous system, helping promote a sense of peace, balance and emotional equilibrium. Some herbs are also known for their lymph-cleansing properties.
Drink herbal teas like dandelion, clover, echinacea, chamomile, lavender, and valerian root
Aromatherapy and the use of essential oils through diffusion or touch with scents like lavender, chamomile, frankincense, and bergamot
Nutrition & Hydration
Your diet plays a crucial role in your overall well-being, including your nervous system health. Water helps flush out toxins from the body and supports healthy lymphatic flow and function
Eat the Rainbow
Incorporate whole, nutrient-dense foods that are rich in antioxidants, fiber, probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, and B vitamins to support brain health and can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Avoid packaged and processed foods that are full of salt, sugar and artificial ingredients
Limit alcohol and caffeine which overstimulate the nervous system
Aim to drink plenty of pure, filtered water throughout the day.
Explore Intermittent Fasting
Eat mindfully - eat slowly, savoring each bite and only if you are really hungry. Eat until comfortably full.
Supplements like magnesium and melatonin can help regulate calming, mood regulating neurotransmitters
Instruments like singing bowls or tuning forks can have a profound impact on the nervous system. The vibrations and frequencies produced by these tools promote relaxation and stress reduction. Incorporating sound therapy into your wellness routine can help you achieve a state of inner balance. Other forms of sound therapy
Listening to binaural beats or Solfeggio Frequencies
Humming, Singing, Chanting
Listening to a calming or enlightening podcast or audiobook
Spending therapeetic time in nature, often referred to as "forest bathing" or ecotherapy, can be deeply grounding and calming for the nervous system. Nature offers a serene environment that allows you to disconnect from the stressors of modern life and reconnect with your inner equilibrium.
Bask in the sunlight
Touch the grass, dirt, mud, water.
Walking barefoot on natural ground.
Practice earthing or grounding barefoot
Engaging in creative expression, such as art, music, or writing, can assist the nervous system by reducing stress hormones, promoting relaxation, and enhancing neural connectivity. Art therapy encompasses a wide range of creative processes and activities that help individuals explore their emotions, express themselves, and improve mental health and well-being.
Free drawing, doodling or coloring
Mandala Drawing or Nature Mandalas
Drawing emotions or creating visual representations of feelings through colors, lines and shapes.
Collage, sculpture, mixed media and other mediums
Admiring and appreciating art (passive enjoyment)
The lymphatic system serves to keep our internal systems clean by collecting and eliminating toxins. It depends on our physical movements and internal states of peace and healthy self-esteem to function effectively. The lymphatic system helps in managing inflammation, and research suggests that excessive inflammation can affect the nervous system. When we experience chronic stress, or repeated fear, rejection, or lack of love, it becomes challenging for the lymphatic system to perform its essential cleansing functions. Here are some ways to help drain and detox the lymphatic system for optimum performance:
Dry brushing your skin with a natural bristle brush before showering can help stimulate the lymphatic system. Start at your feet and brush upwards in gentle, sweeping motions toward the heart.
Gua sha is a traditional Chinese healing technique that involves scraping the skin with a massage tool to improve circulation, release tension, and promote healing.
A professional lymphatic massage can be highly beneficial for detoxification, encouraging lymphatic flow and reduce congestion.
Soaking in a warm bath with Epsom salt can promote detoxification and encourage lymphatic flow. The magnesium in Epsom salt is beneficial for the lymphatic system.
Some individuals may benefit from wearing compression garments, which help prevent swelling and promote circulation.
Alternating between hot and cold water in the shower can stimulate lymphatic flow. Begin with hot water for a few minutes, then switch to cold for 30 seconds. Repeat several times.
Therapeutic touch can alleviate stress and promote relaxation by releasing serotonin and oxytocin.
Practice Self-soothing touch such as gentle tickling, squeezing, hugging, or holding self.
Use a Weighted blanket to provide deep but gentle pressure or stimulation
Massage therapy aids in regulating the nervous system by reducing stress hormones like cortisol, enhancing relaxation, and promoting the release of feel-good neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.
Acupuncture, through the stimulation of specific pressure points on the body, influences the nervous system by triggering the release of endorphins, which can alleviate pain and stress while promoting a state of relaxation.
EFT/Tapping stimulates the body's energy systems and helps rewire the brain by interrupting negative thought patterns and emotional charges associated with traumatic events.
Setting Healthy Boundaries
Setting healthy boundaries can alleviate stress and reduce anxiety by providing a sense of control and security, thereby allowing the nervous system to function more effectively and promoting a state of calm and balance. Here's how to finally put yourself first:
reassessing your priorities
instilling stronger boundaries for your time and energy
doing whats best for you even if hurts or bothers other people
overcommitting to plans
showing up where you don't feel valued
forcing connections that don't feel aligned
spending your energy on people or in places that don't reciprocate or replenish
denying your truth and pretending you're ok with something that doesn't feel right
"If you don't say 'no', your body will say it for you through physical symptoms and chronic illness"
While many default to solitude for healing, we can't overlook the value of genuine human connection. Through the experience of bonding and the feelings of belonging, acceptance, trust, empathy, and compassion we can foster a deep sense of safety and security. Healthy relationships aid in regulating the nervous system by triggering the release of oxytocin, a hormone that reduces stress and promotes relaxation. Additionally, helping others can shift our focus away from our own worries and concerns, allowing us to experience a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Co-regulation is a gift we can share with others, but only when we ourselves are grounded and centered.
Seeking emotional support from others
Petting an animal
Engaging in acts of kindness or service- helping others, volunteering, donating time or resources
Hugging a loved one
Giving a compliment
Pay attention to what relationships deplete and drain your energy, vs which revive and restore you
Hold space for others in distress- its ok to simply share your vibration, not your advice or lecture
Feng Shui and healthy interior environments can positively impact our nervous systems by reducing anxiety and stress, and enhance overall well-being. Thoughtfully arranged spaces following Feng Shui principles contribute to a sense of calm and comfort. Factors such as natural light, proper furniture placement, color choices, and clutter reduction play significant roles in creating spaces that promote relaxation consequently benefiting our nervous system's health and functionality.
Decluttering can help regulate the nervous system by reducing visual and mental stimuli, which minimizes stress triggers and creates a calmer environment. A tidy space promotes mental clarity, reduces anxiety, and fosters a sense of control, positively impacting overall nervous system function. Get ready to start removing excess not just in your home and office spaces but across all areas of your life in what you eat, see, and spend time with.
Positive self-talk and affirmations can influence the nervous system by shifting thought patterns and emotions toward optimism, safety and self-assurance. This practice helps in reducing anxiety and negative thought cycles, thereby promoting a calmer mental state and supporting healthier nervous system function.
I am taking care of myself today, however that looks
My power lies in how I respond to all situations with self-compassion and confidence
I have permission to seek comfort and safety whenever I need it
My body is on my side, my greatest teammate
I am resilient and equipped to handle all of life's challenges
My value and worth lies in what I do each day to make a difference to others
I accept myself and others exactly for who they are
Wrapping it Up
The more we nourish our nervous system, the more we expand our capacity for both chaos AND stability.
monotony (or variety)
consistency (or inconsistency)
the mundane (or the exciting)
All of it is beautiful, necessary and worthwhile.
Healing your nervous system is a holistic journey that requires on-going self-compassion and patience. By incorporating a variety of holistic wellness tools into your daily life, you can find a sense of balance and overall well-being, helping you navigate life's challenges with greater peace, resilience and serenity.
As we go through life's ups and downs, rest assured knowing that there are other wellness modalities to help us create harmony and balance in our lives. Take the first step to full-spectrum abundance and unlock your true potential with the teachings and tools Feng Shui and Human Design. Embark on a transformative journey by scheduling a consultation today.
Erin is a certified feng shui consultant, energy healer, wellness coach, and holistic growth strategist.
SUBSCRIBE BELOW to receive short & sweet tips for intentional interiors, sustainable systems, and high-vibration, low-impact living - straight to your inbox! You can also stay connected on social media at the links below.