It’s hard to know why we react the way we do in different situations. We designed these cards to assist you in a journey of self-knowledge and to support you as you find more ways to understand who you are and how your body responds to your environment.
How many times have you made plans to hang out with a friend, and all you want to do is go home?
We get it. But did you know, when we are connected with others it can lower anxiety and depression, help us regulate our emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and even boost our immune systems? Sometimes isolating or spending lots of time alone is a coping strategy. Notice this and, when possible and safe, challenge yourself to spend time with someone who cares about you. It really can make a difference.
Our nervous system does not like uncertainty. The more we can become aware of our surroundings, the calmer we will feel.
When going into a new place, notice what is around you. Look around, what do you see, hear and even touch? Is the lighting bright? Does it feel cold or hot? Are there lots of people laughing or are they checked-out on their cell phones? This orientation puts you back in the driver seat and, over time, teaches your nervous system that you are not powerless. Remember, we are all learning. The trying is in the doing!
Moving your body more often, especially in nature, can help improve low energy, inhibit racing thoughts and even help you sleep better.
Research shows that walking barefoot on the earth’s surface can regulate our autonomic nervous system, improve sleep, and help us relax.
When we are too hard on ourselves, too much of the time, it can stop us from learning.
When you feel relatively calm, identify something you are proud of, feel the sensations in your body of what pride feels like, feel the strength in your body as you focus on it. Really feel it. Now, store that away and when you get into unhelpful, critical self-talk, return to this memory. Allow it to bring balance so you can hold both.
When we come into the present moment, and be with whatever we are feeling right now, we are more able to problem-solve, dream and plan.
When you are overwhelmed, to the best of your ability, look around the room, notice three things, really look at the detail, color, shape, etc. This helps orient us to wherever we are and can help us calm down.
This gives us the feeling of having more power over our lives (and most of us want that!)
Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 7, and exhale for 8. This is a natural tranquilizer for your nervous system. You may have to do this for several rounds, and, if you are really overwhelmed, it may not help at all. The trick is to try different things at different times.
When these basic needs are not met, it can take away our focus and even the ability to feel secure. Take care of you.
Make an effort to get a good night’s sleep, eat enough food, and drink enough water throughout the day.
Instead of saying, “I’m anxious,” say, “My nervous system is dysregulated.” This will give your brain an opportunity to problem-solve. Your brain is talking to you, notice what it wants you to hear.
Research is finding that connection with others is as necessary as food and shelter. Good connections are the greatest indicator of happiness. Trauma and isolation work against both our physical and emotional health.
The next time you connect with a close friend or pet, notice how you feel after connecting, and use that information to guide you. A good support system can help us in so many ways.
When we experience moments of shame, our IQ actually drops. This means that we can’t think as clearly or problem solve. Our brain’s job is to prioritize survival so if something reminds the brain of a past scary event, our body may go into protection mode and shut down thinking.
With this information, notice the next time you feel overwhelmed or “triggered” and remind yourself you are in the present moment. This can be challenging because the fear will impact your thoughts, which can get scary! Take a breath, remind yourself you are okay, move to a safe place where you can notice where you are and what is going on around you and remember, this takes practice!
Did you know that anger could be your
body’s way of moving you toward change?
We are often taught to hide or dampen our anger, but did you know that in some cases the anger can actually serve a purpose? While we should never use anger to harm or intimidate others, we can use anger to guide us. The next time you feel angry, notice if you gain some mental clarity and even start problem-solving. Whether you begin thinking about a new career path, start reassessing a problematic relationship or changing something else that might be bothering you, this is your body’s wisdom moving you toward more options and, possibly, a fuller life.
When our body detects a potential threat, real or otherwise, it sends a message to the prefrontal cortex to stop thinking. If you are in a fear-inducing relationship at home or work, you may experience confusion or an inability to problem solve.
Becoming aware that you may not be feeling safe is the literal first step! Notice what is happening, to the best of your ability. When we are afraid, we go into survival mode. Awareness is the doorway out of survival mode, take your time and be kind.
When you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through TikTok or maybe eating too much or too little, you may be engaging in a coping strategy.
Ask yourself, from a place of curiosity, “What is my nervous system trying to protect me from by engaging in this coping strategy right now?” and then, “Why does my nervous system believe it needs protection right now?” For a deeper challenge, ask yourself, “What do I really need right now?” Connection, a quiet moment, or even a hug from a safe person.
Knowing the signs of burnout can help you recognize when it is time to make a change.
Notice if you are feeling more irritable, frequently melting down, lack energy or motivation, feel disconnected or like you are all alone, feel constant self-doubt or have inability to switch off from work. If you are, it may be time to take a break or speak to a safe supervisor about how you are feeling. Being able to notice the signs can lead to changes that may feel more supportive and satisfying.
Boundaries can protect us and they can also tell us where we may need to create more safety for ourselves.
Next time you find yourself venting about something or someone, check to see if a boundary is needed there. Maybe you took on an extra project you didn’t really want. The venting could indicate that a boundary was needed to say “NO THANK YOU!”
Over time, this helps us to become less reactive, grounding us in what is really happening around us.
It takes time, but every time you notice that something in you doesn’t feel right, tend to it. You are sending a message of safety to your nervous system, the part of the brain that regulates everything.