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Rest and Restore: 6 Simple Ways to Start Feeling Calm

Rest and Restore: 6 Simple Ways to Start Feeling Calm

She told me the title and I knew I had to read it.

Patriarchy Stress Disorder.

Those 3 words inspired a spontaneous deep inhale and, upon Rha Godess’s recommendation, I ordered it right away.

I inhaled the book. Dr. Valarie Rein had put words to what my body had been experiencing my whole life.

I’m not going to explain the entire premise of the book because you MUST simply get a copy for yourself and read it.

But, I will say that it helped solidify something I already knew but that my mind needed more evidence of to prioritize practicing it every day:

The body is everything.

Emotions are stored in the body. No amount of thinking or talking can get them out.

We have to use our bodies to get unstuck, not our minds.

I started studying the nervous system and how it relates to our ability to do our best work as business owners.

I started experimenting on myself and working with a professional.

And here’s what I found:

Investing in healing my nervous system has made things that used to be so hard feel so much easier.

A few examples:

Having hard conversations.

Setting boundaries.

Receiving negative feedback.

Making mistakes in public.

Being present with my kids.

While I highly recommend working with someone who specializes in trauma and the nervous system when you do this work, I wanted to share some of the nervous system healing techniques that I turn to over and over:

How to do it: Simply put your attention on your back lower ribs and send the breath there. Stay aware of your breath for 5-10 breaths and notice how your body feels afterward.

How to do it: You may want to start small and just shake your hand and see how that feels and then move through and add other parts of your body until you’re shaking your whole body. Shake for as long and as hard as it feels good. (Injuring ourselves is not the goal, nor is getting a workout, though you’ll likely get winded.) Notice how your body feels afterward.

How to do it: Notice your feet on the floor or your bum in your seat. Feel the way that you’re being held to the surface of the earth by gravity. Feel the weight. Just notice how it feels to have your body being held by gravity. Spend 3 or more minutes noticing.

How to do it: Sing a song that you feel emotionally connected to really loudly. Allow it to bring up any feelings (laughter, crying, anger) and let those out as you sing. Or add in other noises to move the emotion through. You can sing along to a recording of a song or sing it from memory. Up to you.

Note: I’ve never read a nervous system healing book or had a practitioner tell me about this one, but I find it really helps me so give it a go!

How to do it: Go outside barefoot and stand on the earth. Lay down in your yard or in the park or at the beach. Hug a tree with your whole body. Notice how this contact with the earth shifts your physiology. Cement or pavement works, but grass or dirt are optimal. Shoot for 5-10 minutes a day.

How to do it: Hugging is based on co-regulation where you can regulate your nervous system with someone else’s regulated nervous system. Find someone who is calm. Hug them until you feel your body relax (around 20 seconds). The oxytocin burst will heal you and make you feel euphoric. Repeat often because people who are hugged often are less likely to get sick.

There are 2 things we know for sure:

  1. We’re going to die.
  2. Until we do, we’re only getting this one body.

Taking really beautiful care of this one body we have is one of the greatest investments of our lives.

Practicing the nervous system healing techniques I outlined above has been a game-changer for me in terms of being able to show up and do the work I’m meant to do in this lifetime (among other things in my life).

Now I’d love to hear from you: Which one of these tips are you going to try? What techniques do you already practice to calm your nervous system? What other questions do you have about the nervous system? I LOVE talking about this, and I can’t wait to hear from you! Leave a comment!

  • Katey says:

    I love this Kate! As a Chiro I would love to share this with my peeps ! I just love what you put out there and have followed you for years. I wish origin had been around when I was younger in practice and having kids. They are now 22 , 24 and 26. Life was a struggle marriage a struggle ( now divorced) and practicing with my ex ( who was cheating and a narcissist) was a struggle! Soooo much better now. Thanks for all you do and share . It really matters and helps! Xo

    • Kate Northrup says:

      Oh wow – you’ve been through it! So glad this resonates and please do share around!

  • Juli Ford says:

    Such a great reminder, Kate. I frequently get stuck in my head and forget to process with my body. Totally agree about the singing!

  • Lisa says:

    Hey Kate! What a great list! I have done all of them(weather permitting!) but what a great reminder to get back to it. ! am so glad you shared this list. Love following you on this journey.

  • Diane says:

    I am going to incorporate these. The shaking is new to me. Liz Gilbert also talked about dancing every morning to move grief thru her body (after her partner passed). Dancing and singing hand in hand and maybe throw a shake in there!

    • Kate Northrup says:

      Yes – dancing is a GREAT one because moving in rhythm also helps us heal our nervous sytems!

  • Katie says:

    I love all of these! I do them all in some capacity but I haven’t using them intentionally. They all feel good and now I know why I always want to hug my family a million times a day! Or why I love lying on the beach on a towel and not a beach chair. Makes perfect sense :) And now I will do them all more intentionally to heal my nervous system. Thank you.

  • Marlana says:

    Great article! I downloaded this book to read as it directly relates to a lot of synchronistic themes that keep popping up for me lately. Divine feminine is on the rise but to be get into flow, the missing link seems to be healing the male wounded energy within as us as well. Thank you for sharing!

    Some other techniques that I have found recently in regards to healing the nervious system is listening to pure solfeggio and/isochronic tones, light language, alternate nostril breathing and the Wim Hof Method (the famous Ice Man). The Wim Hof method is supposed to be really effective for healing the nervous system and PTSD (with caution) as well. Instructions below.

    Wim Hof method:
    * Relax: Sit in a meditation posture or lie back on a bed (Never do this exercise in water!).
    * Hyperventilate: Using mostly the belly instead of the chest, breathe in and out as deeply and completely as you can.
    * Important:
    * The exhalation should last about double the length of the inhalation (or longer),
    * and each round should be about two to four seconds.
    * Do 30 to 50 breaths. If you feel light-headed or you start to tingle, that’s fine.
    * Hold the breath out: Allow the lungs to empty via a final exhale, and simply hold your breath with the lungs empty. Hold it until you feel a ravenous urge to breathe, and then hold it for 20 seconds longer. You can do it! Go ahead. Deliberately provoke your fear of suffocation. You might chose to shift around in a relaxed manner to facilitate cell respiration in your muscles, thereby extending the amount of time you can hold the breath. I usually imagine myself underwater and that the ceiling above me is the water’s surface glittering overhead. The gap between me and the air up there provokes an instinctive fear of drowning (particularly strong in me, for some reason).
    * Hold the breath in: 
    * Now breathe in fully, to maximum lung capacity, expanding both the abdomen and the chest. Hold your breath in for 20 to 30 seconds.
    * Close your eyes, and tune into your body. You will notice that your heart beats quickly and some other sensations come and go.
    * Sometimes your hearing fades out and then comes back.
    * This is normal, and it heralds a spike in adrenaline and norepinephrine (fear hormones).
    * This completes the first set.
    * Repeat twice (for a total of three sets): 
    * Do two more sets, and increase the time of the breath-hold in step 3 each time.
    * You might want to use your smartphone’s timer or stopwatch.
    * For gradual boost to overall health, I suggest increasing the breath-hold time of each set by one second every day.

    The Wim Hof method stimulates an acute stress response, and in doing so, it appears to prime the immune system.

    When you do it daily, it conditions the adrenals so that they get triggered as though there were a real and actual danger present, instead of getting triggered by imaginary vague, abstract threats. You are training your stress response to behave properly.

  • Lisa says:

    Hey Kate, one more thing – about the singing. Loud singing (also toning) is found to activate the Vagus Nerve which helps us regulate to a state of ease. I did not know this 13 years ago when I gave birth, naturally and at home – and I sang (or toned) a loud “ahhhhhh” through all of my contractions. That would have helped to soften the uterus, calm the parts that needed to be calmed and facilitated the birth. I didn’t understand why I was doing it at the time, but also didn’t question it. This toning also would have had be doing some deep back lower rib breathing!

    • Kate Northrup says:

      I love this! Thank you so much – I always love learning why the stuff that feels so good works so well!

  • noga says:

    thank you Kate! I’ve found that when I want to calm down fast(er) after raising my voice at my kids i start singing. It changes everything, instantly.

  • Dawn Hoff-Cowdery says:

    Thanks so much for sharing these! I think they sound like great things to do. Will your post be saved somewhere easy to find on the Origin member site?

    • Kate Northrup says:

      Hey Dawn – so glad this resonates! The best place to come back to the post is right here on the blog!

  • Dani says:

    This is a sweet little list. I think intuitively my body has used shaking when I have a PDP (personal dance party) in stressful times, because I’ve noticed that I’ll dance differently, as if I literally NEED to shake things off of me. When no one’s home tomorrow, I’m going to try singing loudly, I can already feel the emotions that’s going to bring out. Thank you for the reminder that we can’t think things away.

    Before the first confinement, I was dancing tango regularly, and it’s a dance that requires such concentration and being fully present and available in your body, it was a great therapy to take you out of your head and thoughts, and fully into your body. It always left me feeling transformed, and occupying space in a more grounded, commanding way.

  • Maria-Theresa Sanchez says:

    This is so helpful. I’ve been struggling with crippling anxiety and trying to get out of it with my thinking mind rather than my emotional body. Will definitely start using these techniques more often. You mentioned it’s great to do this work with a professional. Is there any kind of therapy you recommend? Any tips would be super appreciated 🙏🏼 Thanks and hope you’re adjusting well to Miami!

    • Kate Northrup says:

      I’ve done EMDR as well as worked with Somatic Experiencing practitioners – I highly recommend both!

  • Lauren says:

    Thank you Kate. The things we do that we forget how profoundly healing they really are. I’d love to know more about the tones that Marlana mentioned and also where you lead on all things calming, restorative and healing for the nervous system and vagus nerve in particular. Breathing has been salve.

  • Dear Kate,

    Yes, I, too, was going to comment that what you’re doing by singing is stimulating the vagus nerve, the nerve that “wanders” through virtually all of the organs and major glands of our body, notably excepting the adrenals, which of course help to kick on the stress response that we all are trying to quiet in crazy modern times. Stimulating the vagus nerve health is hugely helpful to health and well-being. I trained as a psychologist before my three now mostly grown kids were born; noone ever told me about singing and dancing and lying on the earth but thank goodness, I discovered in short order, once I could pay attention to myself again, these and some of the other “hacks” you’re writing about here so beautifully in your blog. I was desperate for relief because I, too, was being demolished by a narcissist “ex” or two or three, at least, until I wasn’t anymore, to quote wise Byron Katie, your kindred sister, right :D? I especially love your idea of breathing into the lower back ribs and wonder where you got that one from, or if you discovered it yourself, perhaps? Shaking is actually a fairly well-known trauma treatment that psychologists like Peter Levine, Ph.D. and David Berceli, Ph.D. have written about extensively in their books. Animals shake naturally, to shake off what would have become trauma if it got stuck in their system. But as animals, purer or simpler in their connection to their innate knowing, they just shake off whatever has bothered them in the moment and then, they’re good to go, generally speaking. Unless if something does get stuck in their system, if it’s a really deep trauma. I’d say almost all of us are experiencing a really deep trauma, with the mind control torture aka isolation program being enacted upon all of us at present by the “powers that shouldn’t be,” at least if you ask me. Hugging Is so healing. We all feel and know this! It promotes the release of all the feel-good hormones, most especially oxytocin, the “hugging hormone.” No wonder “they” (the usual suspects,” right?) don’t want us to have this free and natural drug, not if they can help it. They want us to live in fear, “naturally,” right? Saying “no” to fear and “yes” to nature, I make a daily practice of earthing myself. Kate, I want to share with my personal hack about how to earth happily all winter long in northern New England. Like you, I’m in a snowy, cold place, in my case, New Hampshire. You get yourself as well as your loved ones some nice sheepskins from sheep that were raised naturally and put them down on the ground. Then you can stay for hours if you so choose, resting completely comfortably on mother earth, no matter how cold it is, as long as you’re bundled appropriately from the feet up. For the feet, try a pair or two of alpaca socks. Hope you like my hack, dear? Would love to hear your comments but am very Luddite and probably won’t be able to find your reply. If you could possibly paste it to me at [email protected] as well, I’d be super grateful. I’ve been a fan of your dear mama’s and yours as well for some time now. I’d heard of the Patriarchy Stress Disorder book from you before, but now without further ado, I’m gonna buy it, thanks to you. Big Hugs, Kate! Hope to meet you and yours sometime soon on the freedom and joy pathway where we are all walking now with our feet on the ground. Unless we’re dancing and leaping for joy, right :D?!

  • Jill Cifelli says:

    Thanks Kate for this article. I have become so much more aware lately of the mind body connection, which you affirm here. It just makes so much sense! Shaking has been something I’ve tried based on your suggestion that is new and feels weird and wonderful. Speaking of what has felt weird, I’ve also gotten curious about tapping, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and explored a virtual tapping summit. After a lot of initial resistance, and some lingering skepticism, I have found that after tapping for the last 10 days, I do feel calmer in my body, less “wound,” less shoulders up by my ears. more softness around the edges of self-criticism. I’m going to stay curious.

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