Quick Tools For Nervous System Regulation (Calm Down Fast!)

Quick Tools For Nervous System Regulation (Calm Down Fast!)

Are you feeling stressed out? Maybe you’re having a tough day at work or feeling frustrated in a relationship.

Everyone goes through it at some point! Perhaps your heart is racing or your palms are sweating. Or maybe you’re dreaming about running away from everything.

It’s important to understand that your body is going into Fight or Flight mode. Your body is trying to save you from danger and preparing you to fight back or run away.

The obvious problem here is that you’re not actually in danger!

The other problem here is to understand that when your nervous system is activated, your conscious brain goes offline. Basically, your prefrontal cortex gets ignored during this time as your energy is literally pointed elsewhere.

But that means acting from your conscious desires or using logic is almost impossible.

Being stressed out or anxious isn’t fun! So let’s learn how to deal with that stress with tools for nervous system regulation.

What Is The Vagus Nerve?

The vagus nerve is part of the parasympathetic nervous system. This important nerve originates in the brainstem and extends throughout the body, connecting the brain to various organs including the heart, lungs, and digestive tract.

The vagus nerve helps control heart rate, digestion, immune response, mood, and inflammation. For our purposes today, it’s also important to understand that this nerve is key to getting into parasympathetic “rest and digest” state–the opposite of the sympathetic “fight or flight” response.

Toning or stimulating the vagus nerve brings you back into calm and will help you get in and out of your activated states faster.

What Is Nervous System Regulation?

Nervous system regulation is the ability of your nervous system to shift between states of arousal and calmness. It’s like a volume knob that controls the intensity of your body’s response to internal and external stimuli.

When your brain detects danger, it cues the sympathetic nervous system, the “fight-or-flight” branch, to ramp up. You know exactly what that feels like: your heart races, breathing quickens, and blood sugar surges to prepare you to handle the threat.

On the other hand, when things are safe, the parasympathetic nervous system, the “rest-and-digest” branch, takes over. It slows down your heart rate, breathing, and digestion, promoting relaxation and cell repair.

A well-regulated nervous system can smoothly transition between these states depending on the situation.

10 Quick Tools for Nervous System Regulation

Simply knowing when you’re activated or in fight-or-flight is important! But it’s also important to have tools that can regulate your nervous system fast. Here are some effective techniques you can use almost anywhere:

1. Havening


Series | Tools for Nervous System Regulation: havening #nervoussystemregulation #selfhealingjourney #havening

♬ original sound – THE SELF-WORTH PROJECT

Self-havening incorporates a unique self-calming technique. It’s simple to do: while your arms are crossed, you gently but firmly stroke from your shoulders down to your elbows, creating a comforting and rhythmic sensation.

2. Physiological Sigh


Quick Exercise To Calm Your Nervous System: The Physiological Sigh #nervoussystemregulation #vagusnervestimulation

♬ original sound – THE SELF-WORTH PROJECT

The physiological sigh is a breathwork exercise that can help you relax and reduce stress.

Here’s a breakdown of the physiological sigh:

  • Inhale deeply through your nose.
  • Take a quick, second inhale through your nose.
  • Exhale slowly and completely through your mouth.
  • Repeat 1-3 times.

3. Cold Exposure


Quick Tools For Nervous System Regulation: Cold #nervoussystemregulation #selfhealingtools

♬ original sound – THE SELF-WORTH PROJECT

Wim Hof is right about cold water exposure! Research has shows that short-term exposure to cold temperatures helps to stimulate the vagus nerve and reduce trauma responses.

I suggest putting cold water on your neck, rubbing yourself with an ice cube or a frozen eye mask whenever you feel activated.

4. Humming


Quick Tools For Nervous System Regulation: Humming #nervoussystemregulation #emotionalhealing

♬ original sound – THE SELF-WORTH PROJECT

Feeling stressed? Here’s a simple yet effective trick: humming! It might sound surprising, but humming can trigger relaxation by stimulating your vagus nerve.

The vagus nerve runs through your throat, near your vocal cords. When you hum, the vibrations travel along this nerve, sending calming signals to your brain. This can activate your parasympathetic nervous system, promoting feelings of relaxation and well-being.

Regular humming may even improve your vagal tone. This refers to the overall health and function of your vagus nerve. A higher vagal tone is generally associated with better stress regulation and overall health.

So next time you’re feeling tense, try humming a simple tune. It’s a free, easy way to support your body’s natural relaxation response.

5. Deep Breathing

Slow, deep breaths are a powerful tool to activate your body’s relaxation response. Just a few minutes of conscious breathing each day can significantly reduce stress and anxiety.

Here’s a simple technique called the 4-7-8 breathing exercise:

  • Sit or lie down comfortably and close your eyes if you prefer.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth for a count of eight.
  • Repeat this cycle for a few minutes, focusing on your deep, calming breaths.

6. 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Exercise

The 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique is a simple yet powerful tool to manage stress and anxiety in any moment. This technique uses your five senses to bring your awareness to the present moment, effectively interrupting anxious thoughts and emotions.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: See 5 Things (5 Minutes)

Take a moment to truly see your surroundings. Notice five distinct things within your environment. Pay attention to details like color, shape, and texture. It could be a stapler on your desk, a ray of sunlight streaming through the window, or a coworker’s interesting pen.

Step 2: Hear 4 Things (4 Breaths)

Close your eyes and focus on sounds. Can you hear the hum of a computer, the distant chatter of colleagues, or the rustling of leaves outside? Identify four distinct sounds, noticing their direction and distance.

Step 3: Feel 3 Things (3 Touches)

Shift your awareness to your sense of touch. Become aware of three things you can feel right now. Is it the coolness of your chair, the fabric of your clothing, or the weight of your phone in your hand?

Step 4: Smell 2 Things (2 Sniffs)

Take a deep breath through your nose. Can you identify two distinct smells? Maybe it’s the coffee brewing in the break room or the fresh scent of hand sanitizer.

Step 5: Taste 1 Thing (1 Sip)

Finally, bring your attention to your sense of taste. Take a sip of water, notice the lingering flavor of your lunch, or simply acknowledge the dryness or moisture in your mouth.

Repeat & Relax:

Repeat these steps as many times as needed to feel grounded and calm. This simple technique can be a powerful tool to manage stress and anxiety in any situation.

7. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Often we hold tension in our body without even realizing it! Doing progressive muscle relaxation calls your attention to each part of your body, one by one, then tensing and intentionally relaxing each muscle.

Here’s how to do it:

Begin at Your Toes

Sit or lie comfortably and close your eyes if you prefer. Take a few deep breaths, inhaling slowly and exhaling completely.

Tense and Release

Curl your toes tightly, creating tension in your feet. Hold for a count of five, feeling the tightness build. Then, slowly release the tension, letting your toes go limp. Repeat this cycle once more.

Travel Upward

After your feet, continue tensing and releasing muscle groups in sequence, moving upwards. Focus on major muscle groups like your calves, thighs, stomach, chest, arms, shoulders and neck, and finally your face.

Mind-Body Connection

As you tense each muscle group, focus on the sensation of tension building. When you release, consciously feel the tension melt away.

Full Body Relaxation

Once you’ve worked your way through all the muscle groups, take a moment to tense your entire body for a count of five, squeezing tightly. Then, with a deep breath, release all the tension at once, allowing your body to go completely limp.

Sit In Stillness

Sit quietly for a few minutes, focusing on the deep sense of relaxation throughout your body. Notice how much lighter and calmer you feel.

8. Mindful Movement

Gentle body movement can also calm down your vagus nerve. Try some gentle stretches or take a short walk, focusing on bodily sensations and your breathing. Go for what feels good to you!

9. Ear Massage

This simple ear massage targets acupressure points in your ear connected to the vagus nerve, promoting relaxation and stress relief.

Here’s how to perform the massage:

Find The Point

Locate the small depression above your ear canal. This is the first acupressure point.

Gentle Circles

Use your finger to massage this point with gentle, circular motions. You can work on one or both ears simultaneously.

Inner Ear Point (Optional)

For a more advanced option, some recommend massaging a point on the back wall of your ear canal. However, proceed with caution and avoid inserting anything deep into your ear canal.

Behind the Ear

Glide your fingers gently up and down behind your ears, targeting another acupressure point.

Deep Breaths

Focus on deep, calm breathing throughout the massage. This enhances the relaxation benefits.

Repeat and Relax

Repeat these movements as many times as you like.

10. Visualization

Visualizations are powerful tools to dial down your nervous system and promote relaxation. Here’s how to create ultra-vivid visualizations that maximize their impact:

Start by imagining a calm, safe place in detail. Then engage all your senses.


Imagine the scene in detail. What’s in front of you? Behind you? Is this a vast landscape or a cozy nook?


Now fill the air with sound. Do you hear a babbling brook, gentle waves, or a crackling fireplace? Do you hear calming music or the comforting voices of loved ones? Notice the distance and direction of the sounds.


Imagine inhaling some delightful scents. Is it the aroma of your favorite meal, freshly cut grass, or calming essential oils?


Feel the textures around you. Is the sun warm on your skin, the sand cool between your toes, or a soft blanket wrapped around you?


If appropriate, imagine eating something delicious. Does it complement the smells in your visualization, or is it a refreshing drink you’re holding?

So what did you think? Which nervous system regulation tools do you use? What else is in your stress toolkit?

We live in a stressful world. That means, everyone needs nervous system regulation tools at some point! So make sure you bookmark this post and come back to it when you need it.

Enjoy & happy healing my friend!

Jenn Stevens The Self-Worth Project

PS Looking for more? You might also want to check out this post about how to regulate your nervous system, or what is a trauma response.

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Quick Tools For Nervous System Regulation (Calm Down Fast!)

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