I love this question and it shows that there’s a little bit of an understanding about how we have this nervous system that could potentially be in fight, flight, and freeze mode, protecting us and working very hard to keep us safe. But there’s also another part to the autonomic nervous system, which is the parasympathetic nervous system, and that’s what helps us to digest our food, to rest, to sleep, to engage in feeling joy and pleasure, and sensuality, and sexuality, and that part of our nervous system can be hijacked by the sympathetic system, which is potentially overprotecting us when it’s locked in fear or anxiety. It doesn’t want to trust anyone or anything, and that can keep us in chronic symptoms — can keep us in chronic conditions, and can prevent the body from adequately going into that beautiful, lovely, soft repair zone. So, repairing the nervous system and learning how to disengage and sooth the anxiety system, the stress system, and to switch into the repair system, rest and digest system, at call, is important in the healing process.
Once we’ve got those skills and learned how to do it, we can do it whenever we want, wherever we are. Everybody does it differently. The way you do it will be different to how I do it. There is a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual piece, or pieces, I should say, that we need to understand about ourselves, to learn how to engage that parasympathetic system. It’s not cookie cutter. It’s not like taking a few deep breaths is going to work for everybody all the time.
But what could it look like? Yes, it could look like taking time to yourself. It could be having some smooth, steady, natural breaths. It could be going for a walk. It could be self-talk. It could be holding yourself physically and cuddling yourself in whatever way feels nourishing. It could be talking to a friend. It could be writing yourself a letter. It could be tapping through limiting beliefs that are holding you back. It could be directly meeting a fear and embracing that fear, and greeting that fear, and coming to peace with that fear. It could be feeling through a trauma pattern until the trauma pattern resolves. There are lots of ways to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and self-regulate that sympathetic stress system, and the best way to navigate that is through self-study, which means listening to your body, knowing yourself, and knowing how to respond in real time here and now to your present needs.