10 ways to calm the fight-or-flight response
Try our easy ideas for activating the ventral vagal network and reconnecting to yourself in times of stress
Connect to breath
.If you are either in fight-or-flight mode or feeling lethargic and unmotivated, simply taking a moment to concentrate on your breath can be a powerful tool to self-regulate. The vagus nerve passes directly through the vocal cords, therefore taking some deep breaths can help stimulate the ventral vagal system. Studies show that slow, conscious deep breathing from the diaphragm reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone). Try applying Kalmar Peace Balm of Serenity to your pulse points and take a deep inhale into your belly and lungs, then exhale slowly. Aim to take about four to six breaths per minute. Breathing out longer than your in-breath stimulates the ventral vagal network and triggers the rest-and-digest response.
Tune in to how your body feels
If you do not pay attention to the signals your body sends you when you are stressed, it is difficult for your brain to know when you need to send messages to your nervous system to relax. Take note of how you feel when you are calm and feeling at peace (stretch, touch your toes, go for a walk). Then notice the difference when you are stressed (notice any aches and pains, tight shoulders, headache). Becoming aware of these physical manifestations of stress in the body means you can mindfully and compassionately take a moment to relax and let go of them. Try rubbing Kalmar I Am Loved Cream into tense shoulders to release any unnecessary tension you may be holding on to.
Connect to the present moment
One way to do this is by using your five senses. Go outside, listen to the birds, smell a flower. Alternatively, create a mindful ritual with your favourite body lotion: observe the colour, feel the texture, smell the scent. These are all simple “grounding” rituals that bring your body back to the present moment, which help your nervous system to feel safe, rather than worrying about hypothetical future scenarios.
Let go of negative thoughts and find gratitude.
The narrative you tell yourself and the way you speak about your stressors can impact how your body responds. Rather than thinking about all the bad things happening in the world, make a list of everything you are grateful for. If you want to raise your energy, think of three things you are grateful for – you will always be able to find something. Practising gratitude helps to change the way you see things and minimises your perception of threats.
Love and connection
....either with others or with yourself, is one of the most powerful tools to help stimulate the ventral vagal network. A hug, a smile, eye contact, self-love meditation or even an act of self-care like taking a bath using Kalmar Love Sensual Senses Bath Oil are all amazing ways to make you feel safe, connected and stimulate your vagus nerve.