How you live your life on a daily basis and how you react to the people and environment around you has a major impact on sympathetic (SNS) and parasympathetic (PNS) nervous system balance. Those that are SNS-dominant often feel nervous, jittery or tense because of the SNS-dominance; this makes it all the more important to incorporate activities throughout the day to help calm down and release negative thoughts and feelings.

  • Practice gratitude. First thing in the morning and just before bed, write down five (5) things you are grateful for. This will help get you into a positive state and help you be aware of the beauty in your life.
  • Release negativity. Negative emotional states – including worry, fear, anger, frustration, guilt and shame – rev up the sympathetic nervous system and just feel bad. When you become aware of these feelings, try to let them go and fill that space with something that is uplifting. Meditation, affirmations, and counselling can help.
  • Surround yourself with love. Whether you are at home, work or in your car, surround yourself with pictures, music, books, magazines and things that bring you joy and remind you of people, places and experiences you cherish. Along those same lines, hang out with people that build you up and let go of relationships that are no longer fulfilling.
  • Practice forgiveness. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but forgiving any wrongs you feel have been made against you allows you to take control and puts you in a position of power and possibly even compassion and takes you out of the victim role, which feeds the sympathetic response of fight-or-flight.
  • Don’t worry, be happy. We are bombarded with images, sound bites and news about all the cruelty and injustices in the world. Give yourself a break and get in the practice of happiness.
  • Get enough sleep. Get as much sleep before midnight as possible and sleep until you naturally awaken. If you need an alarm clock to wake up, get to bed earlier the next night. If naps are restorative and don’t negatively impact your sleep at night, take them.
  • Breathe deeply, and often. Deep breathing is one of the fastest ways to calm down and quiet an overly active sympathetic nervous system. Practice taking deep breathes multiple times daily; attach the act of deep breathing to some other activity that occurs regularly throughout your day – such as receiving/sending emails, texts or phone calls.

Choose one or more of these activities and incorporate them into your daily schedule. It will take persistent, consistent actions to achieve results – think weeks or months rather than hours or days – so get started and enjoy each day as much as you can. Before you know it, you’ll be feeling better and much more balanced.