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Regulate your nervous system to reduce your stress & anxiety

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

Do you know how to regulate your nervous system?

I would have barely understood this question a couple years ago.

However it ended up being one of the questions that got me to experiment the more and that supported me the most in my journey to:

  • break free from stress and anxiety

  • get back the control of my life

  • increase tremendously my well-being

  • support others in their own journey.

It is why I am sharing here you some techniques I have been experimenting with, so you can regulate your nervous system.

Why is it important?

Human beings were not meant to be constantly under stress. Our body and brain are not equipped to deal with that efficiently.

When you experience stress and anxiety everyday for weeks, months, years, your nervous system ends up deregulated, out of whack, unbalanced. You are trapped in stress, in survival mode, aka "fight or flight". And your experience of life sucks. Sorry for my French.

So when you learn how to regulate your nervous system, not only you will reduce your stress and anxiety, but you will develop your well-being, your quality of life and relationships, your performances, your overall health...

Sounds pretty awesome to me.

let's start with mindfulness.

I know mindfulness almost sound like cliche (in French we say "tarte a la creme" - "cream pie"... so much better than cliche, isn't it?). In my own experience, it is key, critical, essential.

First. I will share my definition so we are on the same page: "Mindfulness is the awareness that arises through paying attention, in the present moment, non judgmentally. " - Jon Kabat Zinn

With mindfulness practice, you:

  • calm the sympathetic nervous system within the body, aka fight and flight response,

  • activate the part of your nervous system that induces calm, your parasympathetic nervous system, aka rest and digest.

Thousands of neuroscience studies have shown the beneficial effects of mindfulness practice on our brain. It improves:

You can practice mindfulness in many different ways.

Using breathing techniques is a powerful and simple way to start regulating your nervous system: deep breathing, belly breathing, physiological sigh, heart coherence breathing, box breathing, 4 7 8 breathing...

Developing a pragmatical and simple 1-minute mindfulness practice breaks in your days when feeling stressed, in-between activities, transitioning from work to home, using your senses and focusing on:

  • your breath: your belly falling and rising, the sensation of the air in and out your nostrils....

  • the sensation of 2 fingers rubbing against each other, or two hands

  • the sounds around you, far away and closer

  • an object in front of you noticing all the details, shades, textures...

Longer meditation practices, self-guided or guided on an app, are also beneficial in the long run to rebalance your nervous system and create peace. I can only encourage you to try. I have done the 8-week Mindfulness based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program and it has developed my ability to embrace the uncertainty of the journey I was one when starting this new chapter of my life with coaching and a new life in the Ozarks.

I have also been using lately Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NDSR) practices. I love it. You can find my favorite ones here:

Mindful physical practices like yoga, tai chi, qi gong will also participate in your nervous system regulation.

Breathwork (different from the breathing techniques above) has been also proven to have a huge positive impact your nervous system. I have read about it and I am actually experimenting with it and will share with you more in the coming weeks.

And many daily activities can actually be mindful when you put all your attention into what you are doing: knitting, painting, brushing your teeth, eating savoring each bites, climbing, gardening, doing a puzzle, cooking... You can choose to bring mindfulness in many areas of your life, be present here and now.... your brain will highly benefit from that too 🙏.

And what about self-care?

Another "tarte a la creme"? Nope, another essential part of your nervous system regulation.

Your self-care practice is creating the right environment for you, your body and your nervous system to thrive. Your lifestyle has a HUGE impact on your stress and anxiety.

Maybe i should define what I put under self-care. I love the SEEDS acronym as an anchor.

  • Social connections - we are social creatures. we need loving and trusting relationships

  • Exercise: yes, we need to move our body everyday to get our brain at its best

  • Education: keep learning, new skills, new knowledge, new sports, new leisures..

  • Diet: healthy eating

    • cut as much as possible sugar, processed food, fried food, alcohol, caffeine

    • go for greens, fruits, lean meat, fish and eggs, grains, lots of water

  • Sleep: 7/8hrs a night of quality sleep - essential to reset and recharge your brain.

And there is nature...

Oh nature! 25 years of super urban life in Paris and Miami had me almost fully disconnected from nature. And I moved to the Ozarks and reconnected to the beauty of nature, the seasons, the constant change and renewal. It is giving me so much energy and peace.

And neuroscience researches are backing it up: being in nature definitely supports your nervous system regulation.

  • Less stress and anxiety

  • Better mood

  • More relaxation

  • More clarity & focus

  • More creativity

  • Better ability to solve problem

  • Better memory and learning capacities

  • Boost of your immune system

  • Better health

And it would not be complete without mentioning positive emotions

Yes, cultivating positive emotions in your life, on purpose, will also contribute to your nervous system being at its best and balanced!

Pay attention to the little things that bring you joy: the smile of your kid, the kiss your partner gives you when you wake up, the flavor of your favorite tea, the bright colors of these flowers, the song of a bird....

Create these moments of joy in your life.

Practice gratitude.

Show compassion to yourself and others.

Choose love. Create relationships based on love, trust and respect, on both sides.

Cheesy? Maybe.

Leading you to higher life satisfaction? Undeniably

And now what?

Now, it is up to you to create the change you need in your life. Insights do not create change. Actions do.

So what actions can you take? Start with something easy. On step at a time. One day at a time. Moving forward.

A few questions to help you :)

What is one mindfulness practice you can easily implement in your life? how long? when do you start ? how often? What/ who can support you?

What area of your self-care need more of your attention right now? What will create the most positive effect on you? what do you commit to do? when do you start? what / who can support you?

What is one thing you can do everyday that will bring you joy?

What are you grateful for in your life?

What are you grateful for today?

What is one thing you can do today to show someone you love that you love them.

What opportunities can you create in the coming days or weeks to spend time in nature (a city park will do!)

If you need support, I am here. I will give you the safe space, guidance, compassion, encouragement and accountability your need.

You can contact me at:

Photo credit: Laurence Bruneau, photographer

The Grand Canyon at blue hour


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