If you read my last post you’ll know that the “secret sauce” for a good night’s sleep is attaining sattva, or what I call a sattvic state. Sattva comes from Sanskrit and is a yogic term that can be used to describe a peaceful, yet engaged state. We could also use the language of the nervous system and say that we are working toward a parasympathetic state.
Rather than agonizing over what to call it, let’s figure out how to get there!
These are my favourite, quickest ways to get there. Depending on who you are, how you feel and what situation you are in you may have different preferences and find different ones to be most effective. Play around with it and see what works for you 🙂
This is probably the most easily accessible tool of them all. If you feel the urge to sigh during the day, don’t suppress it! You may also like to try the physiological sigh, which consists of inhaling in 2 parts before a long exhale which can be loud or quiet.
If it’s appropriate to your current environment, blowing through your lips like a horse, with or without noise is also stress relieving.
Have you ever wondered why people laugh when they are nervous? This is the nervous system’s attempt to unload stress. You can force a laugh for no reason at all, keep a joke book close at hand or look at photos of dogs with eyebrows to help you get going.
Frapping, or “Frenetic Random Activity Period” sort of goes along with sighing and laughing, but you have probably been socialized out of it since it is kind of weird. Dogs getting the “zoomies” is an example of frapping. You know how little kids will shake their bodies and jump around and make weird noises? This is actually a fantastic way of relieving stress and creating a healthy nervous system. (Just don’t do it in the middle of your annual performance review.) A much more common example in adults is when athletes get off the field and “shake it off” or when someone stressed shakes their hands out. Just like a dog that has gotten out of the water and takes maybe 3-5 seconds to shake it off. One of the benefits of drinking a lot of water is that every couple of hours you can go to the bathroom and can use some of that time alone to reset your nervous system.
Dancing and singing work well too. I’m a huge fan of Dr. James Gordon’s work with shaking and dancing. Here’s a quick video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94MnNgusoJI. The shaking starts at the 2 minute mark of the video, but there’s a little more info on the nervous system in here.
- Eye contact
This falls under a greater category of “co-regulating” which uses another person’s nervous system to regulate your own. In being alone, we can get in to unhelpful thought patterns, which unfortunately we cannot usually think ourselves out of. But if we can have a 60 second chat with a person who has a regulated nervous system, they share some of that energy with us and we can regulate together. (On the flip side, if you leave an interaction with someone who makes you feel “off,” their nervous system is probably not what you need and make take steps to avoid them or protect your sattvic state around them.)
I think that one of the loudest messages in the wellness and self-improvement industry is that you should be 110% accountable for your inner state but we need to remember that we are not meant to do life alone. There is a certain sattva magic that comes from a brief, healthy connection with another human that can bring you back in to balance.
Any of the 5 senses work really well, but touch is, ahem, at your fingertips. Place a hand on your chest or both hands on your thighs and pause for a moment. Anything to bring your mind out of your troubles and in to your body can do the trick. Wiggle your toes in your shoes. Notice the feeling of your clothes against your skin. Swallow, cough, rub your eyes – anything!
Given enough time and the right environment, of course you could get a hug, a massage, some exercise or do some tapping (more on that later).
These are the quickest paths to sattva, but there are many ways to get there so stay tuned for more blog posts!