3 Ways to Calm Anxiety by Working With Your Nervous System
In this series, I’m answering the top questions our community asks about the nervous system. One of the top questions is about anxiety. Why do we experience anxiety, and what does it mean? And what are the top 3 ways to calm it instantly?
Before I dive in, I want to let you know that we are currently offering a free detailed Nervous System Profile.
This is perfect for you if you are experiencing…
- A sense of overwhelm, increased alertness, and underlying anxiety.
- Feeling irritable, overly reactive, easily frustrated.
- Signs of chronic stress or embodied trauma (e.g., sleep problems, hypersensitivity to sounds and smells, pain in the neck and shoulders, back pain, tension.)
Nervous system dysregulation is REAL. And healing IS entirely possible, without having to give up your life or your dreams.
Anxiety and the Nervous System
The other day, I was speaking with a client who is a psychologist about anxiety. If you have anxiety, I’m sure you’ve gotten many suggestions, tricks, and practices to try and “fix” it or control it with your left brain. This client told me how much the lessons and techniques she’s learned about her nervous system have made it possible for her to cope with her anxiety. She’s also used it to teach her clients how to regulate their nervous systems better as well.
Here’s what I taught her about easing anxiety when you’re a highly sensitive person – and how you can do it, too.
What do you do when you have that sense of anxiety, overwhelm, or time pressure? You may not even fully know why you are feeling anxious at that particular moment. Your heart starts racing; your stomach contracts, your shoulders, and muscles feel tense. You start having anxious thoughts like “everyone is doing better than me,” “I’m broken, or “I’m not good enough.” A story of shame starts playing in your head, and you start spiraling into sad and negative thoughts. I see this all the time with women.
3 Ways to Ease Anxiety by Working With Your Nervous System
Here are three things I want you to remember the next time you begin to experience this. These are things we teach those who learn how to heal their nervous system with us:
You are not broken. Your nervous system is doing the best it can to keep you safe and alive in the ways it has learned to cope.
Your nervous system might be picking up on signals of danger that trigger your anxiety. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that this danger is real or that it’s something you are not equipped to handle. Your nervous system has evolved over millions of years for precisely this purpose, to pick up signals of danger and keep you safe. Your nervous system is already doing what it’s designed to do.
Especially as a woman, your amygdala is incredibly sensitive to danger because you are wired to protect. You are wired to care. You’re not broken, and you’re not different from all other women who have walked this earth for the past hundreds of thousands of years. This is your superpower, and we want you to be able to use it to create magic in your life, not to spiral into a sense of shame. It is possible to live differently, embracing your anxiety rather than trying to fix it.
Techniques to Calm Anxiety
1. Bring your awareness to the body
Where is this anxiety in your body? Is it in your stomach, your chest, your neck? How does it feel? Describe it to me. Does it make you feel lightheaded, nauseous, worried?
2. Describe it with explicit language
Become aware of the sensations in your body and the emotions you are experiencing. For example: “My stomach is contracted. I feel a wave of nausea hit me. My head feels dizzy.”
3. Take the time to feel this anxiety at the body level
This will instantly lower the alarm level in your amygdala, reduce your fight or flight response, reduce the sympathetic response, and reduce the number of stress hormones you are releasing.
Follow these three steps when you are experiencing anxiety. I’d love to hear back from you about how it helps you calm anxiety!
Want to find clarity on the cause of your anxiety and see fast and powerful changes towards feeling calm and more regulated?
I am inviting you to take our quiz and receive your Nervous System profile. Get started below:
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Dr. Linnea Passaler
Dr. Linnea Passaler has dedicated 20+ years to serving patients, first to a small number of individuals as a successful surgeon and then to thousands of people worldwide as the CEO of a digital health startup. After overcoming her own struggles with a dysregulated nervous system, she created Heal Your Nervous System (HYNS) to empower others in their healing journey. Her combination of neuroscience and somatic work helps those struggling with overwhelm, trauma, burnout, and anxiety to heal their dysregulated nervous systems and thrive.