Is Instant Stress-Relief Really Achievable?
Yes… “Stress-Relief” is possible in a minute or two. We have all experienced disruption due to an episode of angst, anger or extreme stress. What if you could quickly shift that and become cool, calm, and connected? (Read the abbreviated two-minute stress-relief practice >)
A few months ago before my appointment with a new doctor, I checked to be sure all my notes from the referring physician and my lab test results were on file. I was assured that they would all be in place. When I arrived for my appointment, I inquired again, just to be sure that everything was in order, and was told, “No, we don’t have any of your previous records!”
I could feel my blood begin to boil but I knew there was nothing I could do. The records were either there or they weren’t. So I took a deep breath and found a chair in the corner of the waiting room and began a stress-relief practice I devised (for other people, you understand!) to not only help people feel instantly calm in the face of adversity but to develop a more resilient nervous system.
As I did the two-minute stress-relief practice, I could feel my whole system settle. My breath was deeper and I felt calm. I walked back to the desk and asked them to check again. This time she waved my file and said, “Oh yes, we have all your records. They’re digital. That’s why I didn’t see them in your file!”
Needless to say, I would have had a very different experience with my doctor had I still been upset. As it was, I was able to be present with him and convey what I needed.
I now practice this process on a regular basis and it has become an integral part of our retreats at Ryzio as well as other trainings. Hundreds of professionals (therapists, teachers, team leaders, etc.) are now using it and experiencing a greater capacity for calm that leads to better outcomes and increased resiliency.
If you’re curious, you can skip right to the video of the two-minute stress-relief practice. Here’s the link.
My guess is that you also experience anxiety from time to time. Perhaps there are times where you feel agitated, unsettled or nervous. More on-going states are also common, such as generalized anxiety, Attention Deficit Disorder, eating disorders and compulsive, addictive behaviors.
These are such common phenomena I decided to compile all the research I could find about the development and workings of the nervous system and the most effective methods of maintaining presence and calm.
In this search, I discovered the work of Dr. Stephen Porges and his Polyvagal Theory. His understanding of the vagus nerve is changing the way we think about health, relationships, and life-long resiliency. Dr. Porges’ research gives us new insights into the development of our nervous system and our ability to enhance its capacity. From this and other research in neuroscience, epigenetics, trauma, and mindfulness, specific practices have emerged to change the brain, grow the nervous system and experience the calmness and connection we want in our lives.
If you’d like to skip right to the practice that will help you do just that, here’s the link.
This new research revolves around the longest nerve in the body, the vagus nerve. This nerve begins to develop before birth and continues during our first connections with our caregivers. This phase begins with the inner ear. These tiny nerves in the inner ear develop as the baby hears the mother’s voice and learns to recognize the human voice.
Then, if the mother is emotionally available, the nerves around the eyes thicken and we learn to recognize facial expressions. This continues as the vagus nerve moves down around the jaw, then around the heart. As the nerve develops around the heart, our nervous system settles and we can feel safe and make meaningful connections with others. Next, the vagus nerve travels down along the ribs and around the belly. If our caregiver is emotionally present, we can properly digest our food.
Now, if you, like me, didn’t have caregivers who could be emotionally present, you may have nervous habits, experience anxiety or you may not have the satisfying relationships you’d like or you may have digestive issues. We don’t blame our parents here. They couldn’t give us what they never got. The good news is, you can develop it now … and in the next two minutes, I’m going to show you how.
You can read the text below and do the 2-minute stress-relief exercise or you can watch the process and do it with me here.
At Ryzio we call this process Vagal Nurturing because you are, literally, nurturing and growing your vagus nerve. Life is stressful and our worlds move quickly. Our bodies feel that stress. We can’t change everything around us that is stressful but we can change how we respond. This practice has helped hundreds of people calm their nervous system.
Let’s start with where the vagus nerve begins, with the inner ear. Try it with me:
- First, take a deep breath and notice your exhale as you pull the outer edges of your ears. The Chinese call this practice, “pull ears, make happy.” Try to make the exhale a bit longer than the inhale. You might even imagine that you are exhaling through a straw.
- Next, as you take a deep breath, move your hands to cover your eyes, then focus on your exhale.
- Then as you inhale, move your hands down to your jaws and imagine someone who cares for you is holding your face in their hands.
- Now glide your hands down the sides of your neck, place them firmly on your heart and, again, notice your exhale.
- On the next inhalation, glide your hands down your ribs and onto your belly, one hand on top of the other, again with a long exhale.
- Now, leaving one hand on your belly, take that top hand and place it on your heart as you focus on the exhale.
- The final step is releasing your arms, opening your hands to receive. Take a nice, deep breath as you imagine yourself receiving. If possible, when you’re ready, allow yourself to have eye contact with someone near you.
Notice how you feel right now after having done this stress-relief practice. I’m guessing you may feel a little calmer. I encourage you to continue to use this every day or several times a day. With this practice, your nervous system will learn to settle itself so that you can feel cool, calm and connected more of the time.
If you haven’t watched the video yet (It’s less than 3-minutes!) now is a good time. Click here and do the Vagal Nurturing practice with me. Enjoy!
This article was written by Marti Glenn, Ph.D., Ryzio Clinical Director