Looking for ways to restore inner calm? I am sure you are! Now more than ever, many of us are struggling with the stress of an uncertain world. Stress often builds over time, and when that stress goes on for too long, it can begin to have a lasting impact on how you think and feel.
Stress changes your brain at a biological level. It makes you more reactive, decreases your ability to control your emotions, throws your hormones out of balance, and makes you more prone to mood disorders, brain fog, and more. The longer stress continues, the harder it is to escape the negative loop it creates.
The good news is that there are simple, actionable ways to reset your brain and break the loop of chronic stress…and you can start doing them right now.
How to Break the Stress Loop and Restore Inner Calm
Carol Garner-Houston, an expert in neurodevelopment, who has helped thousands of people overcome stress and restore a sense of inner balance, looks at how the pandemic is affecting our brain and central nervous system.
“What we’re seeing right now is people dealing with so many layers of difficulty, so many layers of stress,” she said.
“The stress is so compounding now and it’s lasting and it’s pervasive. All of those things independently would be enough to disorganize the brain and nervous system and cause fatigue, depression, anxiety, poor sleep and so much more. We know what’s happening, we want to recognize it and then put into place a series of things to change that trajectory, because we totally can.”
Here are 5 ways to break the loop of chronic stress and train your brain to relax at a biological level.
Use these tools to break free of stress and put your brain back on the path of strong, healthy development.
1. Reset Your Vagus Nerve
Your vagus nerve is a part of your nervous system that regulates your stress level and fight-or-flight response.
Carol Garner-Houston says, “Vagal regulation is the number one basic building block of the central nervous system. It impacts all the different areas of the brain and the nervous system, not only chemical release, but also inflammation. It’s core to the brain-body connection.”
Your vagus nerve helps your brain interpret cues and signals from the world around you. If you’re under constant stress, your vagus nerve can become dysregulated and your nervous system can become stuck in a stressed state.
As a result, your brain feels it’s always under threat, and you’ll have trouble relaxing at a physiological level.
Studies show that stimulating your vagus nerve helps bring it back to baseline, which can relieve stress, depression, and even PTSD .
Resetting your vagus nerve teaches your brain that it’s okay to relax. Vagal stimulation causes your entire nervous system to calm down and creates a feeling of safe wellbeing.
Some simple ways to begin calming the vagus nerve:
- Gargling loudly
- Playing a wind instrument
- Drinking through a straw
- Exhaling longer than you inhale
Once your nervous system no longer feels threatened, it becomes much easier for you to rewire it for resilience. You have a solid foundation for building a stronger, calmer brain.
2. Upgrade Your Sleep
A good night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do for your brain.
It’s during sleep that your brain repairs itself, removes toxic waste byproducts that accumulate during the day, and forms new connections that help your brain work better .
To quote the authors of a 2015 study, “Each phase of the sleep cycle restores and rejuvenates the brain for optimal function.” 
Sleep is also closely tied to stress. Good sleep increases your ability to handle stressful situations and improves overall brain function, while lack of sleep makes you less resilient to stress and causes brain fog .
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try taking the following:
- Liposomal melatonin
- Magnesium glycinate
- CBD and CBN
These three natural sleep aids will relax your nervous system and help you fall into deep, restorative sleep. Even a single night of good sleep will restore your nervous system and increase your ability to handle stress.
3. Move Your Body Every Day
Exercise is another proven way to restore a sense of calm.
During chronic stress, your body loses its ability to regulate cortisol (your main stress hormone), causing baseline cortisol levels to gradually increase over time . As cortisol increases, it becomes harder and harder for you to relax, both physically and mentally. You also become more prone to pain, fatigue, and a variety of other issues .
Working out immediately lowers your cortisol, and several studies have found that people who exercise regularly are more emotionally resilient to stress .
Any kind of exercise works. You could try:
- Lifting weights
Whatever you choose, try to do it every day. The more consistently you move your body, the better you’ll become at regulating stress.
4. Turn Off the News
Watching the news is bad for your mental health.
Studies have found that watching the news increases anxiety, depression, stress, and drug and alcohol use, and even causes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in some cases .*
In addition, research shows that the media misrepresents stories to intentionally cause outrage and fear. They misconstrue or omit facts, make things sound worse than they are, and prioritize horrifying or upsetting stories to scare people into watching more . So when a bad thing you really do need to know about happens, you often aren’t even getting accurate information.
For the sake of your mental health, consider taking a break from the news. Delete news apps from your phone, block or avoid news websites, and cancel your newspaper subscription.
Instead, spend that time and energy on things in your life that matter: your health, loved ones, friends, hobbies, work, and other worthwhile pursuits. Odds are you’ll be less stressed and much happier without the news in your life.
5. Try Sound Therapy
Sound is a powerful tool for strengthening your energy field and releasing stress.
When your energy field is holding stress or unresolved emotions, it’s in a state of dissonance. This stress creates an imbalance in the field, and therefore your Biofield is out of harmony.
When you introduce a new frequency to the field around your body, through sound vibrations, the frequencies of your emotions and stress entrain or match with the frequency produced by the sound and become coherent. In other words, the sound vibrations balance out the frequencies of the stress, and your energy field reaches a new state of harmony.
I recommend checking out these 7 transformative sound healing sessions to help you get started.
Through this Sound Therapy Transformation Series, you can:
- Release negative emotions and attract what you desire with 7 healing sound therapy sessions containing scientifically researched sounds, frequencies, and vibrational patterns
- Tap into your body’s own energy field and remove the blocks getting in the way of your relationships, creativity, and flow
- Rebalance your nervous system, increase energy, boost cellular regeneration, and promote youthful aging
- Overcome negative experiences and become a vibrational match to an abundant, joy-filled life
To maximize your emotional healing and stress reduction, I highly recommend using these sound healing sessions in conjunction with mindfulness meditation.
Meditation is an incredible well-studied stress-management technique. Research shows that mindfulness meditation, in particular, can help to build the gray matter in your brain which is responsible for memory, emotions, muscle control, speech, decision making, self-control, and more
Some people find it had to stick to a meditation routine, but don’t let the idea of sitting in silence turn you off. There are several different meditation techniques that you can use to calm your mind, with most including guidance or brain-wave music (like the sound healing sessions I mentioned above!) that helps you to get into a calm state.
*These statements have not been reviewed but the FDA. The products discussed in this post are not intended to treat, cure, diagnose, prevent or reverse any disease.
Click Here for References+
Eugene, Andy R., and Jolanta Masiak. “The neuroprotective aspects of sleep.” MEDtube science 3.1 (2015): 35. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4651462/
Choi, Dong-Woo, et al. “Association between sleep duration and perceived stress: salaried worker in circumstances of high workload.” International journal of environmental research and public health 15.4 (2018): 796. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5923838/
Morales, Jose, et al. “Stress and autonomic response to sleep deprivation in medical residents: A comparative cross-sectional study.” PloS one 14.4 (2019): e0214858. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6448892/
Hannibal, Kara E., and Mark D. Bishop. “Chronic stress, cortisol dysfunction, and pain: a psychoneuroendocrine rationale for stress management in pain rehabilitation.” Physical therapy 94.12 (2014): 1816-1825. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4263906/
Childs, Emma, and Harriet de Wit. “Regular exercise is associated with emotional resilience to acute stress in healthy adults.” Frontiers in physiology 5 (2014): 161. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4013452/
Rahman, Md Shafiqur, et al. “Exercise Reduces Salivary Morning Cortisol Levels in Patients with Depression.” Molecular neuropsychiatry 4.4 (2018): 196-203. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30815455/
Tsatsoulis, Agathocles, and Stelios Fountoulakis. “The protective role of exercise on stress system dysregulation and comorbidities.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1083.1 (2006): 196-213. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17148741/
Serani, Deborah. “If it bleeds, it leads. The clinical implications of fear-based programming in news media.” Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis 24.4 (2008): 240-250. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/247898920_If_It_Bleeds_It_Leads_The_Clinical_Implications_of_Fear-Based_Programming_in_News_Media
Pfefferbaum, Betty, et al. “Disaster media coverage and psychological outcomes: descriptive findings in the extant research.” Current psychiatry reports 16.9 (2014): 464. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4144190/
Szabo, Attila, and Katey L. Hopkinson. “Negative psychological effects of watching the news in the television: Relaxation or another intervention may be needed to buffer them!.” International journal of behavioral medicine 14.2 (2007): 57-62. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17926432/
Altheide, D. (2002). Creating fear: News and the construction of crisis. New York: Walter de Gruyter.
Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Assuring the Health of the Public in the 21st Century. The Future of the Public’s Health in the 21st Century. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2002. 7, Media. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK221224/
Breit, Sigrid, et al. “Vagus nerve as modulator of the brain–gut axis in psychiatric and inflammatory disorders.” Frontiers in psychiatry 9 (2018): 44. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5859128/