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Learning to regulate the nervous system and better manage stress is a skill. It takes practice and conditioning, like any other. Here’s one of my top tips on how to do this.

Mira Rao
Mira Rao is a resilient-life coach, yoga teacher and writer.
Mira is teaching trauma informed healing techniques for thriving in life, work, business and creativity.




Today I'd like to talk about a practice that I call “Regular Regulation”. Some of you who have worked with me may be familiar with the ideas through yoga practice or other modalities of bringing the nervous system into balance. 

We want our nervous system to be flexible when can go into states like fight-or-flight if needed, because there are adaptive states that serve us.

stress curve

But if we’ve had trauma or if we haven't learned the ability to regulate, or we are a modern person in a modern society where fight-or-flight mode is being activated continuously, then we then we need to learn how to build flexibility to bring the nervous system into a more relaxed state.

Practice Makes Perfect

One of the things that I believe is very necessary is proactive steps when it comes to “Regular Regulation”. We need to actually be practicing before the major stress happens.

One of my coaches uses a lot of martial arts metaphors and I like this one as well:

“You want to be practicing the hits so that when the actual real world thing happens, your body, your nervous system is conditioned to respond. The idea is that you’ve practiced it enough times that your mind knows what to do.”


This is the same with regulation, we want to practice proactively throughout the day. 

The thing is that when a big stress comes, some parts of our brain that help us with regulation, like the prefrontal cortex, go offline, especially when there is a big wave of threats to the nervous system. So we want to be able to respond automatically in that moment with the practices that allow us to regulate.

Teach Your Brain to Respond to Stress

The way we teach our nervous system to automatically respond to stress is through Regular Regulation which is a very simple practice. What I’ve learned from one of my teachers sometime ago is that we need to integrate the practice into our day. 

The problem is that we can learn things in a yoga class, we can learn things from our teachers, we can go off and do breath work to stop the other modality but then we often just leave it behind.

What we want to do is make a pot of how we do life going forward.

Everyone carries a phone with them all the time nowadays, so I encourage you to set an alarm for five times per day: morning, mid-morning, mid-day, mid-afternoon and evening. That way you will have an external reminder to do your practice. 

With nervous system regulation, on the spot quick resets, we want to be doing things very simply and quickly because we might be in the middle of our active working day, we often don’t have the time to go and sit for half an hour to meditate. Instead, we want to be able to do a little quick fix to help keep things in balance.

If you’ve managed to have the nervous system go a little bit up and then come down, up and down, up and down … When you come to relax and go to sleep you're not having to do this much work to relax. So you can come into those more relaxed states for the evening and for sleep much more easily, rather than having a build up over the day. 

Having trouble falling asleep? Read these 7 tips to improve sleep quality.

Use Breath to Find Safety

If we are looking at healing modalities, if we are looking into a personal development world, if we are looking into a high performance world, breath is a massive key. 

One of the things I believe would change the world is if everybody started to learn to loosen the diaphragm. We are all tense, sucking our bellies in, breathing in and out to our chests. 

Here is a simple practice to regulate. No matter what state you’re in, you can come back to a natural, balanced state by loosening through the core around the diaphragm and breathing, taking the stress response down in the body.  

Maybe you are at the computer, focused on a big task. When your alarm goes off all you have to do is sit back in your chair, notice yourself physically (feet on the ground, sit bones in a chair), soften the belly, soften the back and take three big breaths through your nose.

Breathing technique to relieve stress
Image source: https://www.healthline.com/health/copd/breathing-exercises

Doctor Stephen Porges is one of the primary researchers that I follow. He is looking at the nervous system and the application of neuroscience into daily life. While he’s on the scientific side, people in the therapeutic fields are taking his work and using his theory called “polyvagal theory” to consciously understand the nervous system and to work with it a little more effectively.

Doctor Stephen Porges will tell you thatbreath is one of the essential things that we can use to find more safety in our bodies and in our nervous system to come out of activated, dysregulated states.

Looking for more stress reduction tips? Check these 10 biohacks on how to relieve stress.

Final Advice

As you’re beginning to come into doing the deeper work of perhaps looking at what’s underneath these behavioural patterns, we need to be regulated to allow ourselves to feel safe to even go there. We need to build the muscles of regulation (which by the way is not a clinical term, but more of a physical metaphor I use) so that we are more robust, more resilient for everything, but through my lens, for our deep healing and thriving work into life. 

Hopefully this information was helpful and if you have any questions, you can always message me at one of my social accounts and I will get back to you as soon as I can. 

Instagram: @mirarao_

Guest Author
Guest Author

This article was contributed by a guest author with expert knowledge in their field.

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