You are currently viewing Episode 140 – Simple Nervous System Techniques

Episode 140 – Simple Nervous System Techniques

You might not think about your nervous system very much, but it affects us every day.

Especially after a trauma like babyloss you can be activated and not even know it. You just think you’re snappy, tired, anxious or overwhelmed when really your body is trying to send you a message.

Learning to recognize what’s happening and using really simple techniques to calm yourself down will change everything.

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Music by ZingDog on Pond5


This time I had so many things that it was just too much for one podcast episode. So I’m actually going to take what I’m teaching you here and add some more to it and make it into a video.

And I am gonna send that video out to everyone who is on my email list. Now, I am currently, uh, Building out my amazing programs and I’m adding a lot of videos and because we’re talking about nervous system techniques, I’m gonna describe them I hope really clearly. So you understand what I’m saying on the podcast, but it’s a lot easier to just watch it on a video.

So if you want to get that, if you want to know more about how to. Deal with your nervous system. How to calm yourself when you feel triggered. How to soothe your anxiety. Um, what to do when somebody says something or does something that gets you all worked up. You gotta join my email list. Just go to smooth stones and if you scroll all the way to the bottom, you can join my email list.

Or you can grab any of my free resources and you’ll be added to my email list. I have, um, pregnancy after loss journal prompts. I have how to Stop Blaming Yourself Mini Course. I have just so many resources that are free and this video is gonna be free too, but only to the people who are joining. And on my email list, this video will be coming out soon, so watch for it.

I know sometimes these emails end up in promotions or spam. You gotta go find it, tell ’em you wanna see my emails. Um, but that’s gonna be my gift to you, and I think you’re gonna love it. Because here’s the thing, I was introduced to life coaching and thought work, and I was like, oh my goodness, this is it.

It’s it like it, it just solves so many problems and it gets to the root and it’s just amazing. But also, we are not just a brain. We are an embodied human. I believe we have a spirit and we have this whole nervous system, and we think that like we know a lot about the brain, we learned about a, a lot about the brain.

I teach a lot about the brain and how it works, but the brain is connected to everything else. And so when we ignore kind of the rest of the entire nervous system, We’re not getting that full picture. We’re not getting the results we could get if we integrate nervous system, um, knowledge and techniques into our thought work.

And what this looks like for a lot of my clients is they’ll say, I just, I’m stuck this, I can’t figure out this model. I can’t figure out what’s happening. I can’t figure out why I keep doing this thing over and over, why I keep reacting this way. I don’t know if there’s a thought in between what happens, like the circumstance and the feeling and the actions that that take place.

It just goes really quickly and this can also happen when if you feel triggered, there isn’t a thought and we could debate back and forth whether or not there is some sort of thought. I think there, there usually is some sort of information, but. Our nervous system reacts and our nervous system’s job is to keep us safe and to keep us alive.

And the way it does this, um, part of our nervous system is to go into fight flight. Freeze or faw. Fawn is a new one you might not have heard, but a lot of us react this way, um, to trauma or to stimulus in our relationships or in the world. But basically you’re trying to, we understand fight, we understand flight freeze.

Fawn is just where you’re, you’re trying to be the good girl and smooth things over so that you stay safe. And I think especially for women. That is one we use a lot and maybe we don’t recognize that that is a bit of a trauma response and a nervous system reaction, and it just is happening naturally.

Now, when I say trauma, I am talking about small T trauma, just like. Our body’s reaction to the things that we’ve experienced. For example, if you are pregnant and you’ve never had a loss, you are not like, scared of being pregnant, you’re not afraid, you’re not anxious, you’re not, uh, your blood pressure doesn’t spike when you go to the doctor.

But once you’ve been through a loss, You’ve got different information. You’ve been through different things, you’ve experienced different things, and now being pregnant is scary, and it does cause a reaction in our body, right? We’re breathing faster, we’re sweating. Our heart is racing. That is a natural response.

Too danger and it’s a good thing. It’s not inherently bad that our nervous system gets activated like this, so I really want you to know that it’s not a bad thing. It means that our body is . Working. But for a lot of people what happens is we get stuck in these reactions and we are just like constantly activated.

And, and that would mean like, like I said, like you’re feeling really tight, anxious, um, you’re sweating, your heart’s racing. You’re, you’ve got like these. Visceral reactions in your body that you’re not, they’re not helping you be the person you wanna be. They’re not serving you in your life and you’re feeling really stuck in them.

Like you can’t help it but you, you can help it just, Thought work or doing models isn’t always the way it can help. We can work together, but you’ve gotta get in your body first and heal your body and stop carrying, um, these reactions and this trauma. And the thing is, a lot of times, When we’re up in our head, we don’t complete these trauma patterns.

So really quickly, I’m gonna give you an example and then we’re gonna dive into all of these techniques that I have picked, which are super simple, super easy, super effective, and you can do them almost anywhere. I really wanted to pick things that you could do when you were just like in, in public at work, at the doctor’s office, in, in the middle of, you know, making lunch for your kids.

These will help you. But if you think about, uh, gazelle out on the planes in Africa, that gets chased by a lion, well, its reaction. As soon as it senses that lion it, it hears it, it smells it, it sees it, it notices movement. It kicks right into gear in a snap and takes off running. Now, if it’s the gazelle’s lucky day, it can outrun that lion and get away.

Well, what happens is they will actually physically shake and tremble and they will. Take all that adrenaline and everything that’s rushing through their body that kept them alive and kind of like shake it out. And then they kind of look around and they survey and they’re like, okay, lion’s gone. I made it.

They went somewhere else. They caught a different gazelle. I’m good. I’m gonna go back to eating. And they go back to eating and doing their, their things. And as a prey animal, they go through that cycle a lot. And if they stayed in that, Like fight, flight, freeze thing, um, they would probably die. And that actually does happen.

I know with deer sometimes, like they will just get so worked up and so stressed that they will die. Um, but they complete the cycle. And as humans, were really bad at completing the cycle because number one, a lot of the time. Our things that we’re afraid of are in our head or their perceived danger. They might not actually be dangerous.

Going along with the pregnancy after last example, going into a checkup is, Not actually dangerous, but our body says it is. And so we can get caught in this loop where we’re like, I’ve gotta go to this hospital, I’ve gotta go to this clinic, um, for nine months and it’s just gonna be awful and I’m gonna be afraid the whole time and I’m gonna have this anxiety and I just can’t get out of this loop.

And the reason is because we try to tell ourselves mantras. We try to, um, you know, do thought work. And it just, it, it doesn’t help because the reaction is coming from our body. So that’s where I think thought work and nervous system work really goes together so, so well and, Like I am all in for you.

Tapping into your body, into your inner wisdom, into techniques that you know of that work for you, and trying a whole lot of different things. I have to say that this is an episode where my best advice for you is. Get on YouTube, get on the internet. You can look up so many techniques. There are just so many things.

Now, of course, I’m gonna give you some, and I’m gonna give you the video, but if you wanna dig deeper, if you want more ways like. There are so many amazing people who have already put this out there, and it’s just all there for you. So find what works for you, find what you’d like, give it a try. Be open, but especially if you are like.

In the Western world, we just do not take care of our nervous systems. We don’t learn about it. Nobody tells us, and it’s just we’re forgetting this whole huge part of ourselves like we are an embodied person and our brain and our nervous system and, and all of our systems are so intertwined that it’s just funny that we think we could just focus on.

The way we’re thinking and have it solve everything. I think it solves a whole lot. I think it works great in combination with nervous system techniques, but yeah, thought work is not always enough. So if you’ve been feeling stuck, this is what you’ve been waiting for. So I’m gonna just dive in. Um, I wanna start by saying it’s really important that we’re taking care of our body in other ways.

I will say this over and over. I know it sounds like so simple that it’s ridiculous, but are you sleeping enough? Are you fueling your body with food? Are you getting exercise? Are you getting some sun? Are you, you know, are you taking care of the basics of your body? Because everything. Is harder when you’re exhausted physically or you’re just not feeling well.

So start there. Take care of yourself. Um, even make little tiny changes that are doable, especially if you’re feeling super, like anxious and overwhelmed and all of these big emotions. Don’t add another thing to your plate. Just make it really simple and easy. Okay, I have, let’s see. I don’t know, like 10 ish, we’ll say probably less than 10 little techniques.

I want you to try them, try them out, see what works for you. First thing we wanna do is breathing, and I say this a lot, you hear it a lot like take deep breaths, but literally take deep breaths. Now deep breath means we go all the way down into our diaphragm. A lot of us are up high, especially when we’re anxious or overwhelmed.

We’re like up high in our lungs we’re, it’s facet. It’s like tight. We wanna go deep, we wanna go down. If you put your hand on your belly, you wanna actually make your belly expand as you inhale and push your hand out and slow it down. Calm it down. Really important to learn some deep breathing and it can be simple or there’s so many things about breathing techniques out there.

Highly recommend you checking that out. Then we have box breathing. This is another one that is super simple that you could do anywhere. You inhale for four seconds and then hold it for four seconds. Exhale for four seconds. Hold it for four seconds and just repeat this as long as you need to. But even I feel like doing it one time, it’s gonna calm things down like almost immediately.

It’s like magic. It’s so good. Um, so lots and lots of great breathing techniques. Another one, if you’re feeling really activated, is, Get some cold water. You can splash yourself, you can spritz yourself, you can jump in the shower. You could get an ice cube and just suck on it. Um, get a Popsicle. It’s summer.

My kids are all into the popsicles. Even having to drink, like drink an entire glass of cold water. It’s, it just, Almost like restarts your system, it changes your focus. It’s so good and so easy. So how can you make this easy right now as I’m recording, we’re going into summer, it’s getting hot. Like why not just get one of those little fans with a spritzer and keep it near you?

And if you feel activated, you can always just do it and nobody’s gonna think it’s weird cuz like it’s summer. So just give yourself. That change of temperature. And you could also do hot, right? Like a hot shower, a hot bath, um, whatever you want, but just kind of change your temperature. Walk outside. Okay.

The next one is grounding and this technique is. Amazing. And I actually did it the other day. If you follow me on Instagram, I actually talked about it, but I went to the park and I was laying under a tree and I just looked up and I did this grounding exercise and you wanna connect with your senses. So we wanna do counting down from five, what are five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear.

Two things you can smell and one thing you can taste as you’re doing this. You’re gonna be breathing deeply and slowly, but really look around and you might say, well, I don’t know if I can smell two different things. I don’t know if I can hear three different things. When you get quiet, you’ll be able to do this.

Take your time. There’s no rush. This is all really, really important, and grounding is so good. Another one, which is kind of the opposite of like calmly being quiet and, um, focusing on, on the things around you is turn on some music, move your body, go for a run. Even like, imagine yourself as this gazelle that’s running away from the lion.

And just like, run to the end of the block. Go to your mailbox, like go to the parking lot and just run. Or speed walk or whatever it is. Turn on some dance music and go crazy. Move your body. Get it out, get that tension, get that built up energy, get that, that tightness and loosen it up. Music is so good, it, it totally affects us.

And you know, the music that you need to listen to, I think you can also go the other way, which I love to do, is like, if you’re feeling all this tension, tension, tension, all this grief and this stuff that’s like pent up, do a sad song and sway back and forth, do a slow song like Cry. Let it out. Just let everything calm down.

It’s okay. Like your body knows what you need to do. Another one I love is aroma therapy. Now, this has been around forever. Um, so many cultures around the world use this, but smells are powerful and we know that smells can even be a trigger, whether it’s the smell of the hospital room or the smell of like baby soap or whatever it is.

Smells can also calm your nervous system. Obviously, ones that we hear a lot about is like lavender eucalyptus, like, um, there’s, there’s so many calming scs like mint. But choose whatever you want. What mood do you want? What do you wanna do? Can you, and how can you make this easy? You might not be able to always be burning a candle or like have incense or anything, but could you get a little roller ball with some essential oils in it and just keep it in your purse or keep it nearby?

What can you do to help? You to have this available, to just take those deep breaths and also add that extra sense of smell that is so powerful. And I would love, that’s something I would love to study, is like, why are scents so powerful? Um, why do they trigger memories and, and experiences so much, but. It could even be like, if you’re having a moment like pop a bag of popcorn in the microwave, um, that scent is powerful.

One more that I think is so good, and it is called the Butterfly method. What you do is, and I’m gonna describe it again, go on Smooth stones, get the video. It’ll be easier to visualize, but you’re gonna, if you put your hands out in front of you, like you’re saying, stop. Then I want you to bring them in towards you, like as if you’re gonna pat yourself on the chest, then cross them so your thumbs are crossing and making a butterfly.

So the hands are, the wings and the thumbs are crossed together. It could be like if you’re making a bird in a shadow, uh, as a shadow puppet, but put your thumbs on your sternum. And your hands go up on your chest just below your collarbone. And what I want you to do is tap left, right, left, right, left, right while you’re breathing.

And I, what I want you to do is focus on getting slower and slower. Notice your heart beating inside that butterfly. Try to get it to slow down this. Can also be adapted. Another way to do a really similar technique is to give yourself a hug, so keep crossing those arms, hug yourself on each shoulder, and then just squeeze back and forth.

Left, right, left, right. This is called bilateral stimulation, and what it does is it helps our brain, it goes left brain, right brain, left brain, right brain, and it just calms us down. It’s almost like going for a walk. How it calms us down because walking is bilateral stimulation. It just means we’re using the two sides of our body and this is a great one.

And I think especially the hugging ourself one. Um, you can do that anywhere. Really anywhere. So easy. And it’s really so effective when you focus on it. Another couple of real easy, like lightning round pet therapy, petting an animal, um, maybe even watching cat videos, who knows? Like it might calm you down.

Yawning and stretching. Um, doing nothing. Actually. This is something where it’s like a lot of times we wanna react, react, react. And our body is telling us we need to react. But what if you just like, let yourself be like, jello, just let it all go. Don’t do anything, do nothing, and just let that pass through.

I was reading something that I think is so, so important, and I’ve heard this actually in multiple places, so I wanna share it with you and I want you to test it for yourself, but. Actually these activations and these stimulations and these kind of bursts of emotions and en energy will last 90 seconds or less.

And so we think that it’s this big thing that’s just gonna stay with us because we don’t know how to calm it down or let it pass. But I want you to think of like the last time you were triggered, the last time something set you off. The last time you reacted in a way that you didn’t want to, that you, you’re pretty sure is coming from your nervous system.

What if you could just pause Now, we can’t always do this, but even if you don’t have 90 seconds, I really encourage you to pause. I actually did an entire episode on this, I think it’s called the Increasing the Gap, or. I should know this. But anyways, it’s something like that, like widening the gap. I think what we have is like the, the thing, the stimulus, the circumstance happens, and then our reaction, because again, it’s not bad that our nervous system gets activated.

What’s, what we usually don’t like is like we yell, we lash out, we say things, we feel terrible, like we. Yeah, we just act in a way that we don’t like, and so that’s why we want to give space and honor this part of our nervous system, just like grief. We wanna bring it close. We wanna get to know our nervous system.

We wanna know when it’s struggling. We wanna know what it’s telling us. We wanna listen to it instead of just like pushing it down, pushing it down, trying to like ignore it, which is what we do a lot. And that’s what’s called buffering. A lot of times it’s like, well, I feel really activated. I’m gonna eat something, I’m gonna watch something.

I’m gonna scroll my phone, I’m gonna, you know, distract myself. And then we just carry this and carry this and carry this. But yeah, try it. Um, a technique I saw as I was researching for this, which I think sounds amazing, is give yourself 30 seconds to breathe. Just do the breathing exercises we talked about.

Just take some deep breaths, then change location. So maybe get up and step out. Um, go in the bathroom. They even recommend that you go and yell out loud if you can. Um, if you can’t yell out loud, yell in your mind, and then do something physical. So again, walk and all of this is happening really fast and I think this is something that we do naturally when you think about it this way.

It’s like, I, I don’t know if I’d really take 90 seconds and like go and do these things, but. Just try it like we kind of do, like say you’re in a heated discussion with someone. A lot of times we’ll just say, I need a minute. Give me a minute. And we go outside, we get fresh air, we take so deep breaths and we like calm down for a second and we come back to it.

So we already kind of naturally do this. It’s just being more intentional and instead of saying like, I have to get out of here, I. You know, like as if you can’t handle what’s happening inside of your body, just say no. I, I, I’m learning about my nervous system. I’m learning about my reactions. I know that I need this space and I’m gonna give it to myself because I deserve it and I don’t want to react to this and I don’t wanna let all these outside circumstances, um, Really dictate my life because once you learn how to do this, it’s actually amazing.

I recently went to a grief workshop and we learned a lot of techniques and we learned a lot about kind of getting in our body and letting go, and I felt so good. I didn’t realize how many things I’d been holding onto until I went to that and let them go. So I wanna encourage you as I wrap this up, to try it.

Try the techniques that I have explained here. Try them more than once. Give yourself time. This is a practice. Your nervous system is always gonna wanna react. That’s what it’s, therefore, that’s what it’s designed to do. It wants to keep us safe, but we gotta train it and show it that. These everyday annoyances and things and all, all the stuff that’s come with life after loss, like it’s not necessarily dangerous.

You can help yourself to feel safe, and that’s the goal. When we feel safe, then we have all the power back. We can do thought work, we can make big goals. Because sometimes our goals are scary and our nervous system reacts. Sometimes when we talk about even paying for coaching, our nervous system reacts and we’re like, that sounds so dangerous.

I don’t think I can spend money on myself. I don’t think I can invest in having a coach. But that’s coming from a lot of fear and that’s coming from a nervous system reaction that might not be serving you, but it is sending you a message. And maybe you need to work on some of the ways you relate with money or some of the, the messages you were given as a child about money or whatever it is, right?

Let’s listen to ourselves and our body and our nervous system and love it and have so much compassion and also, Let’s train it and say, it’s okay. You can calm down and I promise you can do this. I have been through some crazy things and I have been in some situations where I had to repeatedly go back into the same space where a lot of bad things went down.

I’ve been through pregnancy after loss multiple times. Like, I get it. It’s hard. And I still have things that that will, you know, the more I learn about this, the more I learn about it myself, the more I just see it everywhere. And I think that might happen for you. You’ll start realizing like, oh, my partner is responding to his nervous system, or her nervous system, or my kids, or whatever it is, the people around me.

That’s okay. Like, the more we know the better, and I just love learning about this. I’m excited to learn more, and I really encourage you, especially if you’ve been feeling stuck in a particular spot and and thought work is just not getting you any further. Check in with your body. Make sure you’re feeling safe.

And then you’ll be able to move forward with so much more energy. Like it’s exhausting to be activated all the time. It’s not natural, it’s not like how it works in nature, it’s just us as humans. We just like to hang onto to all of those things and, and I think it wears on us. So I’m gonna leave it there.

If you want more for sure, get on my email list and I will see you next time. Are you tired of feeling like your baby’s death was somehow your fault? Go to Stones coaching com and get my free mini course. How to Stop Blaming Yourself After Loss.

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