self care

Self-Regulating :: Resources

We all have ways that we self-regulate when we're stressed. Some might be less than ideal -- Facebook scrolling, online shopping or mindless eating -- and we might not even be aware of some of the ways we self-soothe, for example if you unconsciously stroke your thumb on your leg.

These are all attempts at finding a resource -- something we use to help stabilize our nervous system in times of distress.

Because resourcing is something we do naturally and can probably do with more consciousness (thus increasing its effectiveness) it can be helpful to identify what we currently use to soothe and give ourselves more options, if necessary.

flower arrangement

Types of Resources

Internal

  • Places in the body that are relaxed, pleasant, reliable, connected, non-reactive, can move and respond
  • Moving the body in ways that feel relaxing, discharging, enlivening, pain-free
  • Breath that is free and unrestricted
  • Prayer, affirmations, connection to the divine, spirit or universe
  • Acts of self care
  • Presence, consciousness, awareness, meditation

External 

  • Places, people or activities, real or imagined, that are comforting and stabilizing
    • nature, rooms or places in your home, trusted people, pets, music, exercise or activities, travel, religious or spiritual places
  • A therapist or support group
  • Safe and appropriate touch
fresh flowers

 

Again, we all self-regulate throughout the day. If I'm feeling stressed, I might shake off my shoulders and/or take a walk. On another day I might have a chai and check email.

It's the effect I'm looking for -- to diffuse my stress or anxiety, to take a break from the thing that is stressful, hopefully broadening my perspective around it.

The first option - a shake of the shoulders and a walk - is probably the more healthful option. So I can really be aware of how that shake and walk make me feel:

What are the sensations in my body?
Where are they?
What effects do they have?

Simply noticing these things can help me the next time I need to pick which self regulation to go with.  It can also help imprint the "non-stressed" state as I go back to what I was doing.

 

Curious about what your go-to resources are? Make a list!!

Here's part of mine:

Internal -- noticing or moving my hands, a head bobble, moving my jaw/face, recalling a line from a poem or a song, making little sounds, joint movements like shoulder rolls.

External -- nature and being outside, journalling, podcasts and music, walk/stretch/yoga, essential oils and good smells, fresh flowers, my faminals, friends and Greg, my therapist.

Since identifying this list a few months ago, I've spent less time online and on my phone, I've been reading more and seeing friends more regularly. Knowing that I have simple accessible resources in every moment helps ease my anxiety.

As you identify your resources, notice what happens in your body as you think about them and write them down. Sometimes just thinking about a resource is supportive.

What if you realize that your main resources are unhealthy? We all have mildly unhealthy outlets, but if your main support is also harming you in some way, here are some ideas.

 

3-step morning routine

It has come to my attention that not everyone scrapes their tongue first thing in the morning. 

And that they might be interested in learning about such things.

So for you curious, voyeur-types, here are the three things I do every single morning. BONUS that you actually get a video of all of these things at the end.

 

First, I scrape my tongue. 

tongue scraper

Disclaimer: once you scrape your tongue, there's no going back. You'll wonder why you haven't heard of this before and you'll never be able to not scrape it again.

An Ayurvedic practice, tongue scraping is said to help remove the bacteria, toxins and dead cells that grow on the tongue overnight. Keeping the tongue clean is said to help digestion, boost immunity and help with overall oral hygiene.

Somewhere along the way, I learned that scraping nine times was auspicious (or superstitious!), so that's how many times I scrape. 

Sometimes they stock tongue scrapers at health food stores like the Natural Foods Co Op, or you can get one online.

 

Next, I put oil in my nostrils.

nasya

This is an Ayurvedic practice called Nasya, which helps moisten and lubricate the tissue of the nostrils, said to help fend off colds and ease allergies.

There's special naysa oil (this is why I buy if I don't make my own), but you can test it out with sesame, coconut, olive, jojoba or almond.

Blow your nose, put a drop of oil on each pinkie finger and swipe around the nasal passages. A bit of a sharp "sniff" will help distribute the oil deeper into the passages.

 

lemon water

Last, I have a large glass of warm lemon water.

Said to help cleanse and kick-start the digestive track, this is a great way to hydrate before having your morning beverage of choice, especially coffee, which is dehydrating.

I recently got some metal straws and started drinking my lemon water that way to help keep the lemon off my enamel. This makes it feel extra fancy.

 

These three habits help ground me and support my other practices. What you do each day matters -- consider bringing these into your morning routine. Your body will thank you!

You can see it all in action below!