Calming down the nervous system - try out these 5 gentle ways
Calming the nervous system is one of the cornerstones of well-being. In today's world, overstimulation is all too common and brings with it a wide range of symptoms. Maybe you can identify some of them? Difficulty settling down for sleep or intermittent sleep. Breaks during work tend to be forgotten and it is difficult to stand still and stop.
So how do you get rid of overstimulation? In this text, I'll give you a brief overview of how the nervous system works and five gentle ways to calm it - which one do you like best?
How does the nervous system work?
Our nervous system is made up of two opposing systems. These are the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.
When it's time to take action and perform, the sympathetic nervous system is activated. It helps us to maintain the right state of alertness to get things and work done. During rest, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, which helps to calm the heart rate and lower blood pressure. This allows the body to recover.
Both parts of the nervous system work autonomously, i.e. completely independently, without our needing to control them. With both working in balance, the nervous system can be calmed down after an active day; we are alert when we need to be and relax and recover during the night. Then we feel good and can do all the things we do in our daily lives.
What causes imbalances to our nervous system?
Stress is not always bad. The stress response is part of the normal, healthy functioning of the body. Under stress, the mind is alert and able to focus on what is important. The body is also ready for action.
In this demanding society, full of stimuli and requirements, the ability to regulate the relationship between activity and recovery often disappears.
Efficiency and performance become more important than recovery and rest. When stress, even a good one, is prolonged, even the little things can make you tense. Sleep stops coming. The risk of illness increases and various types of pain can appear in different parts of the body.
Prolonged stress without the necessary time for recovery leads to a state of nervous overstrain before long. In the beginning, the feeling can be very stimulating, even though the overstimulation stresses both the mind and the body all the time. Even if you get a good night's sleep, you won't feel any more refreshed the next morning.
The body and mind get used to stress surprisingly quickly and begin to regard it as a normal state of being. Recognising and striving for a calm state of mind can be difficult because it is so far from normal that it is no longer remembered.
With increasing stress and strain, overstimulation of the nervous system leads to the symptoms mentioned above, including sleep problems, high blood pressure, fatigue and memory problems.
Calming the nervous system is a series of small, repeated actions
It's good to be aware of the things that stress you the most. It's not always that there's too much work to do, it's just that there's not enough recovery. How do you use your free time? Are you doing things you enjoy or is your free time filled with things you don't enjoy?
The nervous system is like the muscles surrounding our bones - they all need exercise. Every little moment you remember to take to relax helps to relax and calm the nervous system. The more often you can get into a state of calm, the better your nervous system will learn to lower the circuits on its own.
After a stressful period, it's good to have repeated experiences of relaxation. In this way, you will gradually learn to recognise your nervous system's state of equilibrium. This will make it easier to achieve it, both consciously and autonomically for the nervous system.
So calming down the nervous system is not a two-hour meditation once a week, but small everyday actions - a moment of rest after a meal, a micro-break at work or even a leisurely walk in the local woods.
Five gentle ways to calm the nervous system
During periods of stress, I find that I naturally reduce the amount of stimuli. I don't watch the news, I don't listen to the radio. The amount of time I spend on social media is also reduced without me noticing.
It's fine to cut back on news about war and other world events when you feel that even coping with your own daily life is a challenge. Instead of watching TV, you can curl up in bed at night with a feel-good book or even listen to an audiobook.
It's not selfish to put your phone on silent when it's time to wind down for the evening. You can also cut down on your phone's message tones - do you need it to notify you of every email or social media event? Give your nervous system permission to calm down without the phone, even if it's just one day a week. If that seems difficult, start with one evening, for example.
Then feel how it feels in your body?
Getting out in nature
For us Finns, nature and getting out and about is one of the most important ways to recover. Nature is always close by, especially here in the north, and even in the city you can go to a park, lean against a tree or, in summer, dip your bare toes into the soft embrace of green grass.
In nature, you can calm your nerves in just a few minutes. Your blood pressure and pulse level out, and your body's stress hormone levels drop. Just five minutes in a nature bath will boost your mood and improve your concentration.
If you can't get out in nature, try listening to the sounds of nature - birdsong, the sound of the sea, the rain. You can find them for free on streaming services, for example.
Feel the weight
Remember the heavy blankets from grandma's house? When I was a kid, I loved to curl up under a heavy blanket, feeling safe. So having a weight on your body is a great way to calm your nerves. This is the same idea behind the weighted blanket.
Even pressure on the body causes the body to release feel-good hormones, serotonin and dopamine, which calm the nervous system. Excess weight also restrains movement, bringing you more quickly into a state of relaxation.
Eye pillow is a small and quick aid to calming the nervous system.
The small weight of the rectangular pillow on the eyes activates the vagus nerve. Activating the vagus nerve calms the overactive nervous system. At the same time, the eye pillow reduces micro-movements of the eyes, relaxing the facial muscles and thus the whole body.
The eye pillow is a great help if you have trouble falling asleep at night. The eye pillow is a quick way to help calm the nervous system. Try it during naptime or at bedtime in the evening!
JAATU uses leftover pieces of hemp fabric from HEMPEA production to make the eye pillows. Read more about the ecological hemp fabric production.
When the body is under stress, breathing often becomes shallow and dense. A simple way to calm the nervous system is to pay attention to body posture and breathing. Lower your shoulders away from your ears, straighten your back and put your neck in a neutral position.
Now pay attention to your breathing and consciously slow down the rhythm of your breath. Breathe in through your nose counting to four, pause for a moment and then calmly exhale counting to four or even six. A longer exhalation quickly calms the nervous system and signals to the body that all is well.
Even a short breathing exercise can remind your body that there is no need to panic.
Hugging your loved ones, skin to skin or even stroking the back of your hand increases the secretion of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, while reducing stress hormones. Stroking a pet, for example, has the same effect.
If you don't have anyone to cuddle, you can cuddle your own pillow. This also creates a sense of security and calms the nervous system.
When your own resources are not enough
You can achieve calmness and relaxation on your own, for example through the methods mentioned above. However, your own means are not always enough.
If you need help to relax, you can calm your nervous system with the help of sound bowls, for example. Sound baths or different types of touch therapy can relax and soothe the nervous system - have you tried them?
Welcome to find out more, I'll be happy to tell you more!
I am Janna Björkqvist, an advocate for holistic well-being. My interest in relaxation and recovery came from my own needs- stress and self-neglect led to my body's exhaustion.
I have now studied relaxation anatomy and will continue my studies to become a relaxation counsellor in spring 2023. My previous studies at university included anatomy and physiology, so the human body and how it works is familiar to me.
Good sleep is the basis of recovery. In addition to yoga products, I make buckwheat husk pillows, which have helped many of my clients with neck and shoulder pain. The snugness of the pillow also improves the quality of sleep, reducing fluffiness during the night and making sleep more restful.
I am trained as a sound bath instructor. I also do Access Bars and energy treatments in my treatment room in Ivalo. Read more and find out more about me, my products and services at