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How to Reset Your Nervous System to Release Stress

PEACE with Anxiety Podcast Episode 14

Ep 14: How to Reset your Nervous System to Release Stress

Join me in this episode as we dive into practical strategies for resetting and regulating the nervous system to release stress in everyday life. Explore the impact of chronic stress on our bodies and minds, identifying signs and recognizing triggers contributing to daily stress. Learn about the transformative power of the #1 method for nervous system reset. Discover the importance of releasing build-up stress and developing trust with our bodies. Explore healthier coping mechanisms versus unhelpful habits, including deep breathing, mindfulness practices, and physical activity, to manage triggers effectively and build resilience. Practice a breathing exercise for immediate stress relief and learn about our 7-day meditation program with a 21-day mindfulness challenge to kickstart your meditation journey towards lasting peace and well-being.


Listen as I talk about:

  • Identifying the stress cycle

  • The #1 Key to Nervous System Reset

  • Releasing Build-up Stress

  • Healthy Coping Mechanisms vs. Unhelpful Habits

  • Weekly relaxation practice


Make sure to bring your paper and pen because this episode is full of actionable strategies!


Click play to listen below:



Identifying stress response

  1. Do you often feel tightness in your muscles, especially in your neck, shoulders, or back?

  2. Do little things set you off more easily than usual, leaving you feeling on edge or moody?

  3. Are you tossing and turning at night, unable to shut off your mind and get a good night's rest?

  4. Do you experience regular stomachaches, bloating, or changes in appetite?


If you answered yes to these questions then you might be experiencing stress in your life.


So chronic tension, sleep troubles, irritability and mood swings, and also digestive symptoms and skin concerns, are the most common physical and emotional signs and symptoms of stress.


The #1 Key to Nervous System Reset

It's something so simple yet incredibly transformative: deep breathing.


When we practice deep breathing, we activate our body's relaxation response, which directly counters the stress response. By taking slow, deep breaths—expanding our belly and exhaling fully—we signal to our nervous system that it's safe to relax. This helps calm our racing thoughts and soothes our tense muscles. When you breathe you turn off the sympathetic or fight-or-flight response and activate the parasympathetic system which is the rest and restore. And you can do it by simply taking 10 intentional breaths.


Releasing Build-up Stress

  • Take a moment to recognise and acknowledge your emotions, even the uncomfortable ones. Allow yourself to feel without judgment.

  • Use deep breathing and relaxation techniques to create a safe space within your body. And once you do this, this signals to your nervous system that it's okay to let go.

  • Consider working with a therapist, or counsellor who specialises in anxiety and stress to guide you through this process safely. You know, sometimes, verbalizing our experiences can be a powerful step towards healing.

  • Engage in Mind-Body activities that encourage body awareness and help release build-up emotions—whether it's through yoga, dance or somatic therapy.

  • Be gentle with yourself throughout this process. Healing takes time and patience. Offer yourself the same empathy and understanding you would give to a dear friend going through a tough time.


Remember, stress relief is not a linear process—it's about building a relationship with your body and being able to recognise the triggers and first responses and take better appropriate action to release stress, creating greater freedom, confidence and well-being.


Healthy Coping Mechanisms vs. Unhelpful Habits

  1. First up practice deep breathing exercises to calm your nervous system and regain control over your body's response.

  2. Second, engage in mindfulness practices like meditation or mindful walking. And this helps bring awareness to your triggers and responses.

  3. Third, Move your body regularly—whether it's dancing, walking, or yoga. Exercise releases endorphins that naturally boost your mood and release built-up stress.

  4. Fourth, connect with supportive friends or family members for emotional support and understanding during challenging times.


So by shifting our focus from temporary fixes to these healthier coping strategies, we empower ourselves to manage triggers more effectively and build resilience over time.


Weekly Relaxation Practice


This exercise is excellent for calming the nervous system and promoting relaxation.


So you can begin by finding a comfortable seated or lying-down position, and place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly, just below the rib cage. Close your eyes if it helps you focus. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose for 4 seconds. And feel your abdomen rise as you fill your lungs with air. Hold your breath for a brief moment at the top. Now, exhale through your mouth for 6 seconds. Feel your abdomen gently fall as you release the breath. And focus on emptying your lungs completely. Now pay attention to the sensations in your body as you breathe. Notice the gentle rise and fall of your abdomen with each breath. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring your focus back to your breath. Let go of any thoughts or distractions, and simply be present with each inhale and exhale. And you can continue this deep belly breathing exercise for a few minutes, or as long as you'd like. It's a powerful practice for resetting your nervous system and cultivating a sense of inner calm. And remember, you can do this exercise anytime, anywhere, whenever you feel stressed or anxious throughout the day. With practice, deep belly breathing becomes a valuable tool for managing stress and promoting overall well-being.


Need more anxiety support with resetting your nervous system?


Apply for a 30-minute FREE Anxiety Relief Call to explore working with me as a private client https://www.ireneevangeloutherapy.com/free-anxiety-relief-call


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Full Transcript


Hello everyone and welcome back to episode 14 of the PEACE with Anxiety Podcast. Today I have a special episode for you packed with practical tips to reset and regulate your nervous system. So, If you feel like you can never fully relax even when you try and if you feel like you are on the verge of burnout, then this episode is for you to help you release stress and find peace and balance. And, If you are like most of my clients you may be wearing multiple hats, so you may be building up your business, being a mom, and trying to be everything to everyone, and most of the time you might be stuck in a cycle of stress, living in a fight-or-flight state where you might be trying to balance everything out.

Now before I dive deeper I want to let you know about my free Facebook group called Peace with Anxiety, where you will find many free resources on all things related to anxiety, mental health and therapy to help you take back control of your mind. It is also a community of women who are all committed to supporting, uplifting, motivating and empowering one another, it is a place to learn, grow and connect and it is the place where I will share any new offers and training. So if you want to join, head over to the group and join the amazing community and I will include the link in my show notes.


Today's episode is all about understanding and resetting our nervous system to tackle stress and anxiety head-on in our daily lives. We'll explore why it's crucial to recognize when we're caught in a stress response cycle and how this impacts our overall well-being. And many of us experience ongoing stress without fully realizing its toll on our bodies and minds. This constant state of tension not only affects our emotional health but also seeps into our physical well-being, manifesting as headaches, skin concerns, muscle tightness, or disrupted sleep. When we're stuck in this cycle, anxiety tends to thrive, making it challenging to experience true peace and balance. Finally, we'll discover effective strategies to break free from this cycle and reset and restore our nervous system.


One of the things I talk about in the therapy room with my clients is that we need to focus on our bodies. The reason is that we need to bring the body into the conversation. if you are stuck in this fight-or-flight cycle just talking about important life events is not going to help you in the long run, because your brain at that moment is just trying to survive and that is all it can focus on, so when you are in that survival mode, well there is no real room for healing. That’s why I believe that it is so important to reset your nervous system to release that stress and get out of the survival cycle so we can begin the therapeutic work.


Now if you ever wondered why you may be caught in a never-ending cycle of stress, in that feeling of always being on edge, like there's a weight on your shoulders that never lifts? Well, one reason is that our modern lives often demand a lot from us—successful careers, family responsibilities, and social commitments. It's like our bodies and minds are always on high alert, ready to tackle the next challenge. Another reason is that unresolved emotional issues from the past can keep us in a state of heightened stress. These could be traumas or deep-seated worries that we haven't been fully addressed. And, Sometimes, it's the culture around us that perpetuates this cycle. We live in a society that often praises busyness and productivity, leading us to believe that stress is just a part of achieving success.


Now, how do you know if you're caught in this stress cycle? Let me ask you a few questions. Do you often feel tightness in your muscles, especially in your neck, shoulders, or back? Do little things set you off more easily than usual, leaving you feeling on edge or moody? Are you tossing and turning at night, unable to shut off your mind and get a good night's rest? And finally, do you experience regular stomachaches, bloating, or changes in appetite?

If you answered yes to these questions then you might be experiencing stress in your life. So chronic tension, sleep troubles, irritability and mood swings, and also digestive symptoms and skin concerns, are the most common physical and emotional signs and symptoms of stress.


And here’s how to recognize them: First, start by paying closer attention to your body and emotions, especially to physical sensations like muscle tightness or discomfort. Then, Notice how you feel throughout the day—Are you feeling more anxious than usual? Also, identify situations or environments that consistently create stress- Are certain places or people contributing to your stress levels? By becoming more aware of these signs, you'll be better equipped to take action and break free from the stress cycle.


Now that we have identified the stress cycle, let's talk about the ultimate key to breaking free and restoring balance. So, what is this number one method for resetting our nervous system? It's something so simple yet incredibly transformative: deep breathing. You might be thinking, "Breathing? How can that make such a difference?" Well, let me explain. When we practice deep breathing, we activate our body's relaxation response, which directly counters the stress response. By taking slow, deep breaths—expanding our belly and exhaling fully—we signal to our nervous system that it's safe to relax. This helps calm our racing thoughts and soothes our tense muscles. When you breathe you turn off the sympathetic or fight-or-flight response and activate the parasympathetic system which is the rest and restore. And you can do it by simply taking 10 intentional breaths.


Now, here's the important part: consistency. Making deep breathing a daily habit is key to long-term stress management. Just like we brush our teeth every day for dental hygiene, we need to practice relaxation techniques regularly to maintain our mental and emotional well-being. Even during periods when we don't feel particularly stressed, these practices build resilience and prevent stress from building up. Think of it as exercising your relaxation muscles. The more you practice, the stronger and more responsive your nervous system becomes. And this proactive approach to nervous system regulation can significantly reduce the impact of stress on our lives, preventing it from reaching overwhelming levels.

So, why bother with breathing exercises when you're not stressed? Because prevention offers numerous benefits. Regular deep breathing strengthens our ability to bounce back from stressful situations, enhancing our overall resilience. It increases mindfulness, helping us stay present and grounded. By calming the nervous system consistently, we lower our baseline stress levels, which can significantly reduce anxiety over time. And finally, deep breathing promotes better oxygenation of the body, leading to improved energy levels, better clearer thinking, and enhanced emotional balance.


Now the next thing I want to talk about is, why is it so important to address the impact of holding onto stress for too long, and how we can actually start the journey of healing and release. So when we hold onto stress for long periods of time, it's like carrying a heavy backpack full of emotional baggage everywhere we go. Over time, this weight takes a toll on our mental, emotional, and physical well-being, and overall quality of life.


So, to begin the process of healing and releasing this stress, we need to develop trust and open communication with our bodies. Our bodies are incredibly wise—they communicate with us through sensations and feelings. When we ignore or suppress these signals, we create a disconnect within ourselves. And this disconnection can manifest as physical pain, anxiety, or a general sense of unease.


Before I tell you about this process, I want you to know that sometimes, especially if you have been living in that constant stress state, you might try a strategy or two but you might not feel immediate relief. And also if you are used to functioning in a highly stressful environment, you might not even realise the amount of stress you are holding onto. And the reason is that if you have been living in that state for years, then that means that it may take a bit longer for your body to feel safe and experience release. But it will happen. With consistency and patience, you will see changes in your body and feelings, so you might be able to sleep better, you might not be so agitated and you might feel more rested and calm.


So, how do we begin this releasing process?

Take a moment to recognise and acknowledge your emotions, even the uncomfortable ones. Allow yourself to feel without judgment. Use deep breathing and relaxation techniques to create a safe space within your body. And once you do this, this signals to your nervous system that it's okay to let go. Also, Consider working with a therapist, or counsellor who specialises in anxiety and stress to guide you through this process safely. You know, sometimes, verbalizing our experiences can be a powerful step towards healing. Another way is to engage in Mind-Body activities that encourage body awareness and help release build-up emotions—whether it's through yoga, dance or somatic therapy. Now finally, be gentle with yourself throughout this process. Healing takes time and patience. Offer yourself the same empathy and understanding you would give to a dear friend going through a tough time.

And remember, stress relief is not a linear process—it's about building a relationship with your body and being able to recognise the triggers and first responses and take better appropriate action to release stress, creating greater freedom, confidence and well-being.


So now that we talked about the stress release process, let's talk about how we cope with life's challenges and the importance of choosing healthy strategies over unhelpful habits.

We all experience triggers—so those moments that make us feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. These triggers like we talked about can show up in different ways both in our bodies and emotions: so they might cause tension, rapid heartbeat, sweating, or digestive issues. And our bodies react to stress in unique ways. But they can also stir up emotions like frustration, anger, sadness, or fear. And these feelings can be powerful and challenging to navigate.

So when faced with triggers, we often turn to familiar but ultimately unhelpful habits like reaching for that glass of wine, or indulging in comfort food, or zoning out in front of screens for hours. And many of those behaviours often started in our childhood to help us deal with uncertainty and fear with one goal to numb those feelings. So whether it is now alcohol or food or complete dissociation by binging on Netflix or sleeping all the time, you may turn to these behaviours when you feeling stressed or bored or anxious, to cope with those uncomfortable feelings. While these behaviours might offer temporary relief, they don't address the root cause and can lead to more stress in the long run. And of course, it’s about the frequency in which you indulge in these behaviours. And there is a time and a place for these behaviours but if you notice that they are becoming more frequent and start to cause more problems for you, then you might need to take a moment and re-evaluate them.


So, what can we do instead? Well, let's explore healthier coping mechanisms for stress relief and emotional regulation: First up practice deep breathing exercises to calm your nervous system and regain control over your body's response. Second, engage in mindfulness practices like meditation or mindful walking. And this helps bring awareness to your triggers and responses. Third, Move your body regularly—whether it's dancing, walking, or yoga. Exercise releases endorphins that naturally boost your mood and release built-up stress. Fourth, connect with supportive friends or family members for emotional support and understanding during challenging times. So by shifting our focus from temporary fixes to these healthier coping strategies, we empower ourselves to manage triggers more effectively and build resilience over time.


Alright so before we end this episode today I would like to invite you to practice a deep belly breathing exercise whenever you feel stressed. This exercise is excellent for calming the nervous system and promoting relaxation. So you can begin by finding a comfortable seated or lying-down position, and place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly, just below the rib cage. Close your eyes if it helps you focus. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose for 4 seconds. And feel your abdomen rise as you fill your lungs with air. Hold your breath for a brief moment at the top. Now, exhale through your mouth for 6 seconds. Feel your abdomen gently fall as you release the breath. And focus on emptying your lungs completely. Now pay attention to the sensations in your body as you breathe. Notice the gentle rise and fall of your abdomen with each breath. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring your focus back to your breath. Let go of any thoughts or distractions, and simply be present with each inhale and exhale. And you can continue this deep belly breathing exercise for a few minutes, or as long as you'd like. It's a powerful practice for resetting your nervous system and cultivating a sense of inner calm. And remember, you can do this exercise anytime, anywhere, whenever you feel stressed or anxious throughout the day. With practice, deep belly breathing becomes a valuable tool for managing stress and promoting overall well-being.


Now i hope you find this exercise helpful and refreshing. And if you're looking to kickstart your meditation journey, I've got something special for you. I have a 7-day self-guided meditation program designed to ease you into a routine and unlock the full benefits of meditation. Each day of this program focuses on connecting your mind with your body and breath, helping you develop a practice that feels right for you. We'll start gently, dedicating just 5 minutes a day initially, and ideally right after you wake up in the morning. And by day 7, we'll increase the duration to 15+ minutes as you become more comfortable with mindfulness and meditation techniques. Now throughout the week, we will explore Breath Awareness, so tuning into your breath as a foundation for mindfulness. We will also explore Body Scan: Noticing areas of tension and discomfort in your body, and learning to release them through awareness. We will also practice techniques to calm and focus the mind, fostering inner stillness. We will also use Guided Visualization to cultivate positive emotions and intentions. And this program is designed to help you bring attention to the body, back to the sensations, back to the emotions, the fluctuations in your mind, and the quality of your breath. But, there's more! If you're ready to dive deeper and commit to a mindfulness practice to regulate your nervous system, I have also included in this program a 21-day challenge. This challenge introduces you to 21 different meditation and mindfulness practices with daily prompts and mindfulness checks. So, you will get a 7-day meditation program and access to a 21-day mindfulness challenge that will help you transform your nervous system. It's a fantastic opportunity to bring peace and calm into your life, and if you want to know more, I will include the click-the link in the show notes.


Today's episode has been all about empowering ourselves to overcome stress and anxiety through practical techniques like nervous system reset, stress release, and mindfulness. I encourage you to implement these practices regularly in your daily life. Like, we said, consistency is the key to cultivating lasting changes that promote peace and well-being. And even the smallest steps can lead to significant transformations over time.


So thank you for joining me today. Until next time, take care and be kind to yourselves.

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