3 Simple Somatic Movements You Can Do To Calm Your Nervous System

Daily life can be unnerving. And it’s easy to go from calm to anxious or nervous in a flash. What’s harder is to go from anxious or nervous to calm.

My name is Donna Brooks, I am a master Somatic Movement Educator and Therapist (MSMT/E). I teach others how to move and listen to their body as part of a journey towards increased good health and wellness. These simple movements that I am going to share here have been found to successfully move an individual from a state of anxious nervousness to a state of calm.

woman meditating in field.
Image credit Akarawut via Shutterstock.

Somatics is calming and centering for your nervous system because it lets your body lead you into ease and recovery from the inside out.

You can read more about Somatic Movement Therapy in our article: Somatic Movement Therapy: Unlocking The Body-Mind Connection

Many of us do good things for our bodies—we eat well, exercise, and think good thoughts—but we miss out on the calm that our nervous system can feel by simply moving with somatics. Truthfully, Somatic Movement is about deepening the body-brain connection and improving our brain plasticity.

Calming your nervous system with somatics is a breath practice.

For instance, there are many excellent breathing practices out there that can improve your breath and calm your nervous system down. But do you do them? Sometimes, putting something good for you into action is impossible when your nervous system is too stressed. Experience your nervous system calm down with somatic breath.

From the point of view of somatics, you would simply observe your breathing. Try it now.

Sit comfortably and notice your breathing. Can you feel it moving your body? Where? In your chest? The entire rib cage? In the small of your back? In your hips? Maybe in your nostrils and throat?

Don’t judge or try to change anything. Just notice. Stay with it for a minute. Then, just notice if your mental or emotional state has changed. If so, you just calmed your nervous system with somatics.

Here are 8 more somatic breathing practices to do today.

Calm your nervous system with somatics is a movement practice.

woman outdoors arms outstretched.
Image credit Halfpoint via Shutterstock.

Okay, not everyone loves to sit down and practice breathing. I get it. For some of us, focusing on breathing can be hard or anxiety-promoting. So, let’s try some movement instead.

Usually, when we are anxious, tense, or worried, we tighten our shoulders up to our ears! Honestly, this can be quite painful. It also signals our nervous system that we are in distress!

Instead of trying to pull, push or relax your shoulders, try this:

Slowly, very slowly, lift one shoulder to your ear. Imagine you are on a very slow and smooth elevator. Take many seconds to raise your shoulder.

Then, hold it there without gripping it. Feel like your shoulder is suspended at the highest floor of your elevator. Hold it there for quite a few seconds.

Slowly lower your shoulder. Now, see if it is now mover relaxed. If not, try it again going even more slowly and smoothly. Try the other side. If your shoulders are more relaxed, you just use somatics to lessen your tension. Congratulations!

Whether you are a lion in the wild or just needing to relax your shoulders because you feel tense, coming home to your body does the trick.

Calming your nervous system with somatics is a kind practice.

Perhaps, the most important thing to recognize about developing more calm through somatics is being kind. I like to think of our bodies like our children. If you are too aggressive with a child, they will rebel.

But if you are patient, willing to learn and guide them carefully they want to please you! Your nervous system wants to let go, Your nervous system wants to help you. For better, or for worse, it tries to help by repeating your habits to you! If you want to start generating a more helpful body-mind relationship and more brain plasticity you can start with this video.

Would you like more resources?

Somatic Movement will help you:

  • Create more time and space
  • Feel a pause between event and reaction
  • Stop working so hard at understanding and fixing
  • Increase rest and regeneration.
  • Soothe an over-active mind.

So please, learn more. And join me. I have a helpful playlist for calm on YouTube. I also offer classes and workshops via Zoom, private lessons and maintain resource pages on my website.

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  • Robin Jaffin

    As the co-founder and managing partner of the digital media partnership Shift Works Partners, LLC through two online media brands, FODMAP Everyday® and The Queen Zone she has played a pivotal role in promoting dietary solutions for individuals with specific needs in the health and wellness industry as well as amplify the voices and experiences of women worldwide.

  • Donna Brooks

    Donna Brooks is a somatic movement therapist and educator, yoga therapist, and embodied meditator who has 40 years of experience teaching, counseling and coaching in movement and the healing arts.

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