Practice moving from Fight-or-Flight to Rest-and-Digest digital journal

Recommended Activities to enter a Rest-And-Digest State

  1. Water is a source of comfort for many people: you can take a bath or shower, or you can sit by a river, or listen to a sound machine or app with the sound of water.
  2. Distractions: television has become a national obsession because of its ability to distract us. When used responsibly, watching a movie or a television series can take us from our suffering and into another world. If we make healthy choices and move forward once we’re calm, this can be a good option for triggering a rest-and-digest state.
  3. Cocooning: wrap yourself in a blanket or your favorite sweater.
  4. Mild Exercise: go for a walk or stretch. No strenuous exercise here. Since the muscles contract during a fight-or-flight response, you run the risk of injury if you work the muscles while they are in a state of tension. Keep it light.
  5. Going outside: this can be getting some sun or enjoying the rain or gazing at the stars. Being outside is a strong stimulation of the senses, usually triggering multiple senses at once.
  6. Reading: remember to do light, recreational reading here, or maybe an audiobook. Save more complicated works for the next phase of the practice.
  7. Self-comforting behavior: this can include any of the five senses. It is what I like to refer to as ‘positive sensory stimuli.’
    • a. Touch: the gentle caress of your arm or a soft pillow, and practices like tapping are beneficial as sensory touch exercises.
    • b. Taste: healthy food or drink, like tea or a light snack.
    • c. Smell: light a scented candle, incense, or diffuse essential oils.
    • d. Sound: you can use sound apps with water or nature or soothing music. Avoid high-energy music as it stimulates further adrenal imbalances. This practice is specific to soothing the system. High energy can come later.
    • e. Sight: externalize your focus, away from the state of suffering in the body. Notice colors in the room, gaze at the stars or watch trees blow in the wind. Describe them out loud or try to write a description of what you see.
  8. Breathwork: no Hatha or fire breath. Take long, slow, deep breaths. It should take about 3 – 5 seconds to do a single breath. Counting while breathing can be
    included to bring additional focus.
  9. Coloring practices: this includes anything that fills a predefined space. Most of these are available in both physical crafts and apps. Rules to follow when coloring are:
    • a. Paint by numbers.
    • b. Jigsaw puzzles.
    • c. Easy craft projects: latchet hook rugs or looms.
    • d. Coloring books: the new adult coloring books are created for just this.
    • i. When coloring, remember to fill each space entirely.
      • ii. Try to stay within the lines. This will help with focus.
      • iii. Take your time. It may be a month to complete a single page.
      • iv. Don’t judge the work. This isn’t about the art you produce. It’s about the brain function you’re stimulating. You can discard what you don’t like.
  10. Chores or yard work: do dishes or get your hands in the dirt. Accomplishing something builds feelings of success and soothes the mind. Many people clean to calm their nerves.
  11. Lying on the floor: the body enters a recovery state when lying horizontally on the floor. You can lie on the floor in your house or the grass outside. Use a yoga mat if necessary. Your position doesn’t matter, but it can’t be on a bed or a couch. It must be on the ground.
  12. Reciting the alphabet backward: accessing something from early development and then making it more complicated forces us into the more analytical mind, which is our natural rest-and-digest brain function.
  13. Counting exercises: like the alphabet, counting often begins during early development. The task should be easy at first, becoming progressively difficult as
    you go. Try different counting exercises such as:
    • a. Counting to ten as many times as you can as fast as you can.
    • b. Counting sums: 1+1=2, 2+2=4, 4+4=8, 8+8=16 and so on.
    • c. Counting random numbers: count by 8s or 12s
    • d. Practicing multiplication tables: begin with the easiest tables, gradually increasing the difficulty as you go.
  14. Spiritual ritual: fight-or-flight responses are isolating. So, if you already have an established belief system, this is the time to connect with something larger than yourself.
    • a. It can be prayers or rosary beads, chanting, or channeling. This is the place where your faith serves you most.
    • b. If you don’t have an established practice, this is not the place to create one. Use something different for now and put any spiritual practices you want to learn in Phase Two when we get there.
  15. Any ‘Coping Mechanisms’ in your own work. Just be sure they are healthy. Even if they aren’t the goal, in the end, they can be a good start in the beginning.
  16. You can also think of your own. Remember: when selecting Phase One exercises that work, they should:
    • a. Calm you or create some level of relief.
    • b. Not be connected to any addictive behavior.
    • c. You should be able to do them when in a highly agitated or depressed state