Regulating Your Nervous System

August 06, 2020 By Renae Garza, adapted from Joanna Majka, LPC

Let’s face it: Life is hard sometimes. Daily activities can become stressors that pile up one on top of another until we’re buried until a giant list of “to-do’s” that can become piles “should-have-done’s”

Whether it’s huge tasks at work or home, or doing what seems like the smallest job in the world, we can get caught up in outward activities, and forget to care for ourselves. That’s when our nervous system starts to suffer – slowly veering away from our healthier selves until we’re in a slop that’s difficult to get out of. Right now, we all need a little self-compassion. We need to understand what we are feeling, how we are becoming overloaded, and what we can do to treat ourselves kindly. A lot of that starts in the Nervous System.

The good news is, we can take steps to regulate our nervous system and stop this cycle of stress and burnout. Let’s talk through some of our favorite regulating techniques together.


  1. Don’t look at the news before going to bed
  2. Where you sleep determines how much rest you’ll be getting
  3. Have less distractions around you before you get in bed
  4. Don’t drink caffeine before you sleep
  5. Sleeping in late causes you to stay up later, which won’t help you get into a better bedtime routine

Fueling your body and brain is a big part of caring for your nervous system. And a few ways you can keep yourself on track is:


  1. Avoid foods that you know make you feel bad
  2. Fueling your body with healthy foods helps your body repair itself
  3. Listening to and trusting your body and know how you want to feel

Along with sleep and nutrition, our body itself needs to keep moving. Movement is great for our heart and mind. Neglecting those two vital organs will have us struggling in the long run. So to better our relationship with movement, keep in mind that it:


  1. Helps produce endorphins
  2. Is something you can pace yourself with
  3. Is what you do everyday and can start building to higher levels of

One thing we can do to reset our nervous system is just breathing. Box Breathing is a simple but effective way to deal with stress or anxiety. Never heard of Box Breathing? Here’s how you do it:


  1. Counting to four while inhaling
  2. Holding your breath for four counts
  3. Then finally, exhaling four counts

Another way to calm your mind is practicing mindfulness. It helps you take hold of your surroundings in that specific moment, holding it for however long you need, and finally letting it pass by for a clearer mindset. Practicing mindfulness can look like:


  1. Thinking of a recurring negative thought
  2. Taking that thought and separating yourself from it
  3. Noticing where you carried that negativity in your body and breathe into that feeling/ spot
  4. Finally, breathing out so you’re able to move into that lifting sensation

These were just a few of the things we do to help ourselves destress, understand our emotions, and feel our way through them. Our Nervous System may be overloaded, but taking just a few minutes at a time to explore and regulate our systems helps us learn more about ourselves, and get through our days with more peace.

Give some other self-care tips a try! Throughout your day, you could also include nature, music, dance, and laughter, to help you relax and create endorphins.

Connection is another important part of our mental and emotional life. Find a mindfulness buddy! Check in with each other and practice these stress relievers together. The main lesson here is to care for yourself - be kind and compassionate. You deserve it.