50 Ways to Calm Your Nervous System

50 Calming Exercises

  1. Light a candle. Notice the flicker of the flame.
  2. Open a window.
  3. Watch the trees sway in the breeze.
  4. Breathe in fresh air.
  5. Record last night’s dreams in a journal.
  6. Smile while reading this sentence.
  7. Dance to a song from your teenage years.
  8. Belt out show tunes in the shower.
  9. Burn some incense. Observe the smoke bend and flow.
  10. Listen to spa music.
  11. Write a love letter to yourself.
  12. Lay on the ground, close your eyes, and feel the weight of gravity.
  13. Before going to bed, step out your front door, and count seven stars.
  14. Forgive someone from your past.
  15. Forgive yourself.
  16. Dim a lightbulb.
  17. Lie still under a pile of cozy blankets.
  18. Wear your favourite colour on Mondays.
  19. Bake a cake from scratch.
  20. Call a friend and tell them what you admire about them.
  21. Call your best friend and ask what they admire about you.
  22. Lean back and let the universe take over. If only for one day.
  23. Turn off technology for eight hours straight.
  24. Notice the colour blue in every room you walk into today.
  25. Write your name using your non-dominant hand.
  26. Drive home a different way from work.
  27. Take a bath in Epson salts.
  28. Organize a drawer.
  29. Put your right hand on your heart and your left hand on your belly.
  30. Stretch your arms up.
  31. Watch the sunrise.
  32. Hug a tree and count to ten.
  33. Watch your favourite movie.
  34. Count your blessings.
  35. Count your blessings twice.
  36. Call up an old friend.
  37. Turn off the news.
  38. Read a book.
  39. Doodle on a sketch pad.
  40. Pray.
  41. Laugh with young kids.
  42. Stroll down a street you have never been on.
  43. Notice the colour red in the room that you are in.
  44. Celebrate today as if it were your first.
  45. Honour tonight as if it were your last.
  46. Play euchre with old friends.
  47. Go for a long drive to nowhere.
  48. Jump on a swing in a nearby park. Enjoy the feeling of weightlessness.
  49. Walk around the block. Twice.
  50. Be here now. Let love in.

50 Ways to Calm Your Nervous System first appeared in my psychology column for The Drive Magazine. ™️

1. Calm YouTube Video

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2. Calm Magazine Article

Download Here

43 thoughts on “50 Ways to Calm Your Nervous System

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    1. Thank you Annette! One of the things I vowed to do as a practicing psychologist from 1998-2016 and now as a psychology professor is to make psychology accessible and sustainable for everybody. I appreciate your feedback. It motivates me to keep sharing, dreaming, and creating. In the classroom and beyond.

    1. The highest compliment of all! Especially coming from you Syl. And when I think of you and this list of 50 ways to c – a – l – m .. I imagine you enjoying NUMBER 7 all day long. 💛 💛 #GOODVIBES #TRIBE

    1. Simply reading the word ‘massage’ in your comment relaxes my entire nervous system.

      Such an incredible way to ground ourselves in present time. While connecting our heart – mind – soul – body.

      To answer your question —

      You are correct. This list did not include that magic word & experience because my intention was to provide pathways to peace that were free.

      That said: I could have included SELF MASSAGE.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment Brad. Your words and photos on your blog always bring me to a place of calm.


    1. Right?!

      Simple things on repeat is my happiness / health motto.

      I posted a video recently on my YouTube Channel about the Ordinary Magic of Resilience.

      Tune in at the 4 minute 35 second part of my speech?

      I also brought this psychology post “alive” on 50 ways to calm your nervous in the video at the top of this post.

      Because it’s only fair that I PRACTICE what I Teach 😉


  1. I LOVE ALL THESE! Your ability to capture what can be done when our minds, hearts, and souls need peace was insightful and fun! I’ve done many of your suggestions–sitting and doing nothing seems counter-intuitive. What I find so remarkable about each of these is that they meet almost everyone’s needs when they can be proactive about helping themselves. Thanks for doing this, my friend. Your wisdom is very helpful.

    1. I love how you highlighted FUN in your comment Dayle.

      I am currently teaching a course wellness and you have hit on one of the core tenets of the course — FUN.

      Because we are more likely to repeat health and happiness habits that 1) we feel capable of doing 2) are self reinforcing and 3) lift our moods and spirits .

      These are the resilience habits that are sustainable long term.

      Otherwise known as “ordinary magic”.

      AMPLIFIED when done as a community.

      I share the background behind each of the 50 calming exercises in this video:

      Something I put together yesterday en route to my afternoon psychology class with liberal arts.

      Practicing what I teach!

  2. These are all so, so wonderful Andrea. They made my heart smile and they also made me realise I must be doing something right and perhaps I’m calmer than I thought because I think I’ve done nearly every one of them recently. Except for perhaps #17 as it’s been too hot here lol! Thank you for this. Everyone needs to see this! Much love and gratitude to you my friend. 🙏❤️😊

  3. 49 of the 50 calming rituals shared by both of us — except number 17 — because we live on different hemispheres!

    Thank you for this reminder as it relates to writing. Summer for you is winter for us.

    It’s the shared + different perspective that lights up my soul and adds to my ‘psychology encyclopedia” of people.

    Number 50 “Be Here Now. Let Love In” reminds me of you.

    ♥️ Andrea

  4. What a great list! I especially like: smile while you read this sentence, feeling gravity, and writing my name with my non-dominant hand.

    1. Thank you for reading and for leaving a comment! Now I have a question for you — which are your top 5 things on the list that help you re-claim your peace and calm daily. I’d love to know!

      1. You are welcome. Let’s see my top 5 things.1 Avoid gossip. 2 listening to my intuition. 3 Living my life the way I choose, then how others suggest.4 learning to say no to people 5. Never let anyone one take my independence from me. 😊

    1. You are so welcome Christy!

      Which of the 50 calming rituals and routines will you be enjoying today from this post, article, and video?


      Given that you live on the West Coast Canada — I bet number 4 and 32 will resonate most strongly with you!

      I vow to do both with you this weekend too.

      1. I think this list is one to have around to see and be a reminder ❤️ These actions can bring so much calm… revitalizing… empowering. I’ll join you in that fresh air and add in reading a book and reaching for the sky 🙌

        Have a great weekend!

  5. What a excellent list of calming ways just to be in your Centre.. I can also add another to your list.. Knitting!…. 🙂 As Miriam has already said in her wonderful comment… Your list showed me also I am on the right path… There are not many of these things I don’t do at some point or other…
    And I just Breatheeeeee……. in….. and Let Gooooooooo…

    Much love and Gratitude Andrea… Also loved your Ted Talk… ❤

    1. Your contribution to this list has me time travelling back to the most wonderful memories with my mom and grandmother teaching me how to knit.

      Such a soothing, peaceful, calming, and loving ritual Sue. And the best part is you end up with the most wonderful result — comfie, cozy blankets — that’s what we made together.

      And the double bonus is that your number 51 matches up with my number 17 on this list!

      Full circle goodness.

      Thank you also for the feedback on my Thriving Under Pressure TEDx Talk! A speech and experience that created with SO MUCH LOVE

    1. Thank you for reading and for watching the video too Mitch!

      Your feedback helps me understand which psychology mediums — hit home. 🖊️ 🎥 🎯

      A note to self 💕 for future psych articles and posts.

      Bonus: verbal renditions / videos are my favourite to create. A literal work of heart ♥️

  6. Great tips professor D! I have another one: Take 10 mg of Diazepam 😆 On a little more serious note I’d like to add mediation and laughter to your 50. And regarding 33: now I have to watch One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest yet another time 😊

    1. Amen for laughter and meditation!

      If it’s done right it can be one and the same.

      Both are an instant shift to present time.

      Enjoy re-watching your favourite movie too! That movie is a staple in my psychology classroom.

      1. Thank you for your reply and video!
        In high school I took a psychology class and we had to write an essay on One Flew. It was such an interesting subject and class. I still watch the movie…and I still laugh 😆

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