How to Relax Your Nervous System, Naturally

Calm, relaxed woman

With the constant stress of busy modern life, sometimes it feels like your nervous system is never at rest. Here are some simple ways to help relax your nervous system and feel calmer, no matter how busy you are.

 

Reduce Caffeine

Consuming too much caffeine can increase anxiety and make it harder for your nervous system to settle down. Different bodies have varying sensitivities to caffeine, so some people may be able to drink a cup of coffee every day without feeling the effects while others may need to cut out caffeine completely to help relax their nervous system. 1 Try limiting or removing caffeine entirely from your diet and see if you feel a difference in your nervous system. Beverages like coffee, tea, and energy drinks are high in caffeine. Swap them out for soothing, caffeine-free herbal tea instead.

 

Use a Weighted Blanket

Using a weighted blanket when you sleep may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, improve sleep quality, and improve overall mood by supporting a more balanced nervous system. 2  A weighted blanket can offer significant benefits for your nervous system by providing deep touch pressure stimulation (DTPS), which has a calming effect on the body. The gentle pressure from the weighted blanket may activate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation and reducing the activity of the sympathetic nervous system responsible for the “fight or flight” response. This may lead to decreased levels of stress hormones like cortisol and increased production of serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters associated with feelings of calmness and well-being. 3 There are many weighted blankets available in different fabrics and styles, or you may prefer to opt for a weighted stuffed animal for an added level of comfort.

NOTE: If you have sleep apnea, asthma or claustrophobia, a weighted blanket may not be best for you. Additionally, look at guidelines based on your size to make the correct blanket selection.

 

Seek Out Touch

Physical touch can help you feel more relaxed and reduce feelings of loneliness. 4  Calming physical touch may help to reduce your heart rate and lower blood pressure. When we experience comforting touch, such as hugs or gentle massages, receptors in our skin send signals to the brain, activating the parasympathetic nervous system. This activation promotes relaxation, lowers heart rate and blood pressure, and reduces the production of stress hormones like cortisol. Physical touch can also stimulate the release of endorphins, further contributing to a sense of well-being and tranquility 5  Incorporating physical touch into your daily life can be a powerful tool for managing stress, anxiety, and promoting overall nervous system health. Try making time to hug a loved one or cuddle a pet at least once a day.

 

Eat a Balanced Diet

A nutritious diet of healthy, unprocessed foods may help keep your nervous system more relaxed. 6 Pay attention to what you eat, especially on days when you may be feeling especially stressed or nervous. Try keeping a food journal and note if there is a correlation between what you eat and days when you feel particularly anxious.  It is beneficial to work with a naturopathic doctor (ND) to develop a nutrition and lifestyle plan custom tailored to your unique needs.

Looking for balanced diet ideas? Check out the resources in our Naturopathic Kitchen library.

 

 

 

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