Feel calm fast. These easy techniques can help move you from fight-or-flight mode into peaceful serenity.
For those of you with a more-sensitive-than-usual central nervous system, you may have noticed that in order to properly eat, poop, sleep, or have sex, you need to feel calm first.
There’s a good reason for this.
The sympathetic nervous system is “wired” within your torso as part of your body that helps you feel more alert, while the parasympathetic nervous system is in your neck, spine, and pelvis and helps you feel more calm.
The advantage of being in your parasympathetic system is that it allows you to:
Spending too much time in your sympathetic nervous system – or “alert mode” – can flood your body with stress hormones and have drawbacks for long-term health.
The Ability to Pause
Humans tend to make poorer choices when agitated.
When something undesirable occurs, it creates anxiety.
- How do you create a gap between stimulus and response?
- How can you be responsive and not reactive?
“For me, the ability to live with integrity and pride is found in being able to choose the actions I take,” says producer and writer Whitney Cummings. “I used to be reactive and make decisions while my head was flooded with adrenaline. Now… [I’m better able to] wait on making decisions until I’m less adrenalized and less activated.”
Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman explains, “That agitated feeling in your body that you want to move, that’s adrenaline in action. It takes only a half a second for adrenaline [to be released into the body], and once it’s there you’re not going to put that genie back in the bottle. So what you need to do is then activate the calming parasympathetic nervous system to push back on that.”
1. Walk Your Way to Calm
Seeing things pass by the eyes is a way that animals – including humans – calm their nervous system. When the body is moving and there are images flowing by on the retinas, it has a direct calming effect on the fear center of the brain.
Anytime your eyes are focused in a small compartment of space – whether it’s a phone or tablet, or a small room as opposed to a vista – you are increasing the level of alertness [stress] in your brain stem.”– Andrew Huberman
2. Breathe Your Way to Calm
The benefits of breathing exercises are:
- they take a very short amount of time;
- and the positive results can be immediate (even faster than the calming effect from eating carbs).
What has been proven effective is to take two consecutive inhales through your nose, followed by a longer exhale through your mouth.
This type of breathing will help balance the ratio of carbon dioxide and oxygen in your bloodstream and lungs.
It makes you go from too-anxious, to calm. And it can be achieved in as little as 3 breaths:
- relax your diaphragm and inhale (nose) into the base of your lungs (half way);
- take a brief pause;
- then inhale the second half (nose) into the top of your lungs expanding your upper bronchials;
- then exhale (mouth) slowly.
The long-term activation of the stress-response system and the overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones that follows can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of many health problems.”– Mayo Clinic
I encourage you to try the two methods outlined above and see if you find them helpful.
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Sources and Additional Reading:
The Science of Fear and Relaxation – Andrew Huberman, neuroscientist – https://findingmastery.net/andrew-huberman/
Good For You Podcast (and video) with Whitney Cummings – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6M6MK9JVoA (highly recommended)
Three Additional Breathing Exercises – https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/stress-anxiety/breathing-three-exercises/
Chronic Low-Level Stress is Bad for Health – Mayo Clinic – https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037#:~:text=The%20long%2Dterm%20activation%20of,Depression