Nervous system health is so important when you deal with stress, anxiety, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), or other chronic illness. Use these easy tools to help strengthen your nervous system!
I recently started focusing my healing journey on strengthening my nervous system health. Over the years I have changed my life to be as low stress as possible. And recently, I found that just wasn’t enough. Despite loving my work and my relationships, I still found myself feeling symptoms of stress.
These symptoms looked like worrying, ruminating, having difficulty sleeping, and trouble focusing. I try to practice compassion with myself as I am healing from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (a.k.a. ME/CFS). But I knew these symptoms weren’t helping me to progress.
This year I’m really focused on healing. These means addressing the things that I have been putting off for far too long! So with that, I thought I’d share some of the tools I’m using to improve my nervous system health.
Tools for Nervous System Health
Here are some of the simple tips and tools that I am using regularly to strengthen my nervous system. I’m not being rigid about these tools, but more using them as I feel called.
1. Quit Coffee
I used to start my day with a big cup of coffee. Oh, the smell, the taste, the warm mug in my hands made my mornings feel like such a treat! Until the caffeine kicked in. I found myself feeling a weird sensation of stress in my body that I couldn’t understand. My body couldn’t work as fast as my mind was racing and I felt irritable and exhausted once the caffeine wore off.
If you’ve ever experienced anxiety, you probably know the feeling. I’ve quit coffee many times and one of the strategies I use is to tell myself it’s liquid anxiety. That doesn’t sound so appealing anymore.
Instead, I’ve switched to matcha or an herbal adaptogenic blend called Rasa. Other options I like are Teeccino, my homemade Dandelion-Chicory Tea (recipe coming soon!), or Harney & Sons Pumpkin Spice Rooibos tea.
2. Create a Relaxing Morning Routine
Slowing down in the morning is sort of counterproductive to our get-up-and-go culture, right? Most of us jump right into social media or emails or head out the door to go to work.
Easing into your day by filling up your needs first can make a big difference.
My routine changes every day, because I like to keep it interesting. It usually consists of some of the following:
- Walk my dog
- Jump on my rebounder for a couple of minutes to shake out any stiffness
- Stretch or do some yoga poses (pigeon and warrior feel amazing)
- Lay on my acupressure mat and think of an affirmation (I like this one “I am healed, healing, and loving my life”)
- Listen to a recorded meditation, hypnosis, or relaxing music
3. Take an Afternoon Break
I used to use my lunch break to run errands and then rush back to work. Then I would come back to work more stressed than when I left!
Now I fully disconnect by closing my laptop and eating lunch slowly. Sometimes I also will watch a funny movie, lay down and do a meditation with a dark eye mask (this makes such a difference!), or go on a long stroll at the park.
4. Stop Multi-Tasking
You may be one of those people who can easily multitask and get more done. I thought I was too. I began to notice this became more difficult and it also put unnecessary stress and strain on my brain.
Try focusing 100% on each task as you do it and see how you feel. It can feel uncomfortable at first, but once you do it a couple of times, you’ll find a new sense of calm as you work or relax.
I mean, who else is guilty of scrolling on your phone as you (try to) watch a movie? (I am!) Sometimes I will end up rewinding a movie over and over before I realize it’s time to put the phone down and focus.
5. Get Outside
I think nature is the BEST for healing the nervous system. Stepping away from technology, deadlines, and unnatural lighting can make a big difference.
I love to go for a trail walk or get out by the water. Something about those places is so soothing and completely resets my system. In the summer, I love to go to the park, sit out on the grass and read a book or just absorb the sun.
Whether it’s your significant other, child, or pet, cuddling is such a great stress soother! Pets especially have the ability to help calm and regulate our breathing. Try it! Lay next to your pet (or human) and match their relaxed breathing.
7. (Technology-Free) Hobbies
Yes unplugging can do wonders for the nervous system, but so can reading, painting, drawing, or other WiFi-free hobbies!
Exploring creativity can be especially helpful as a form of expression. Cooking, writing, singing, crafting, woodworking, building things are all other ideas of hobbies you can do for fun.
Final Tips On Improving Nervous System Health
Sandwiching your day with relaxation can make a big difference. Starting with something calming in the morning and again in the evening can be life-changing. If you want to take it a step further, try adding in a third mini-practice in the middle of the day!
Give it a try and see how you feel. It’s great if you can make a routine out of this practice.
Above all, please don’t beat yourself up. If you miss a session, a day, or even a week, just forgive yourself. No need to be hard on yourself in the name of stress-reduction!