Just as our nervous system can be activated by inner sensations, we can also use sensations to help soothe our nervous system. Certain movements, sounds, sights, tastes and smells can help calm our nervous system.
Explore what your body likes and if possible, have these on hand. They might become intentional every day activities that your body finds soothing – for example, an essential oil that you love, a nourishing cream massaged into your hands at the beginning and end of the day, a long glass of water with a twist of lemon on rising, a playlist for different moods, a leisurely walk in a park or spending time in nature, a herbal tea or perhaps an inspirational book that you can refer to often. Creating small rituals around the things that we find calming embeds them in our body so that we can call on them when we need them.
Typically, when we feel anxious, our breath is the first to change. There are many simple ways of calming our body through our breath. One option may be to take a long slow inhale, pause for a few seconds and then slowly exhale, feeling our feet on the ground, perhaps gazing towards nature – repeat as often as needed.
Our movement may be as simple as a forward fold, or looking over our left shoulder, then our right, looking up, looking down, clasping our hands overhead and turning our palms facing upwards towards the sun/moon. Or we might have a regular movement class that helps us feel connected to our body and heart.
Regularly aligning ourselves with our present experience can be soothing and comforting at any time. Look around and notice what surrounds you – a plant, books on shelves, a tree outside the window, a bird nearby. Notice if any of these invoke a sense of calm. If so, just stay awhile. You might like to name what you see aloud or quietly to yourself – for example - green tree, blue sky, white fence, a bird flying overhead. As you take in this view, drop down into your body/heart – how do you experience the sensations of relaxation? Have your shoulders softened, has your breath deepened, do you feel more grounded? Notice what your unique experience of relaxation feels like in this moment.
These simple practices can be the very beginnings of change – of knowing ourselves more deeply – and of recognizing that we, like all people, are worthy of our own love and attention.