3 Easy ways to down regulate

Deliberate down regulation is quickly becoming a serious part of modern life. If you are not taking the time to deliberately down regulate, then you are heading in a dangerous direction.

Being highly strung or stressed consistently, has shown a relationship with a concerning amount of life-threatening diseases. Influencing your nervous state and down regulation regularly is one of the best ways to manage stress.

What do we mean by down regulation?

Down regulation is deliberately practising shifting your nervous system from a sympathetic (fight or flight mode) to a parasympathetic (rest and digest mode) state.

The common solution is to take a holiday every 6-12 weeks but in the modern world that isn't so easy.

So how do we make the neurological shift happen?

Take a second and think, when was the last time you thought directly about your body and what your body is doing?

Sounds a bit airy-fairy - but we’ll quickly give you an understanding or the neuroscience (bear in mind that this is a very simple explanation of a highly complex and detailed process).

Your brain is responsible for shifting your body through its neurological states. By stimulating the correct parts of the brain, you can transition from one to the other. The part of your brain responsible for shifting from sympathetic to parasympathetic is your insular lobe (and a whole stack of others but we’ll save you the trouble).

How do you stimulate your insular lobe?

Think insular. Think about yourself, your body and how your body is working. After all, in common english, an insular person is considered self-centred and narrow-minded - so sometimes that is what you have to do with your thoughts.

Here are 3 drills that will help you transition your thoughts, help stimulate your insular lobe and thus transition your nervous state from sympathetic to parasympathetic.


Power Breathing

Lie on your back and close your eyes.

Place one hand on your belly.

Focus on nasal breathing deep into your stomach rather than just your chest.

Control the tempo of your breath so that your exhale is twice as long as your inhale.

For example:

  • Inhale for 4 seconds

  • Exhale for 8 seconds

See if you can extend the pattern of your breathing to be longer and slower.

Add a pause at the end of your exhale of 5 seconds.


Box Breathing

Similar to your power breathing, focus on your breath traveling to your stomach before your chest.

Aim to pattern your breathing similar to a box shape (all 4 sides the same length).

For example:

  • Inhale 4 seconds

  • Hold 4 seconds

  • Exhale 4 seconds

  • Hold 4 seconds

  • Repeat


Long, slow distance training. 

It can be a run, a walk, a ride or a swim - it doesn’t particularly matter.

The important thing is that it should be recreational. No target distances in certain times, no target heart rate zones no form of competition.

Allow yourself to enjoy the meditative nature of a repetitive pattern. Challenge the brain to stay engaged with the simple movement pattern - get bored but stay on task.

Leave the tech at home and just let yourself be engaged in the mundane nature of the repetitive task.

It is not easy, but it is worth it


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