These are emergency practices, for when you are afraid or beginning to panic. They can also help break the trance of what-if catastrophic thinking. They help reset your nervous system. Covid-19 resources are here.

Scroll down for options. There is no need to do them all. Pick one that catches your eye. Then if you like, you could try another one. These are simple practices to self-regulate your nervous system, like bringing your hands together and feeling the warmth or reading these sentences out loud.

Make a list. When we’re emotionally flooded or highly anxious our cognitive faculties go off line and it can be hard to remember what to do. Try several of these suggestions then write down 3 or 4 that work for you. You might add them into a note on your phone or an index card to carry with you or print them out and keep them handy.

Orienting Through Your 5 Senses: Notice and say each out loud

5  LOOK: Look around for 5 things that you can see or 5 things a specific color.
4  FEEL: Notice 4 things that you can feel, like your warm skin, soft shirt.
3  LISTEN: Listen for 3 sounds.
2  SMELL: Say two things you can smell or name your 2 favorite smells.
1  TASTE: Say one thing you can taste or your favorite thing to taste.

Orienting by Looking Behind You

Sit in a chair and slowly look to your right, let your head come around, your shoulders and down to your hips. Look behind you and let your eyes move from floor to ceiling. Is there anything that could hurt you? Slow look front again and repeat to the other side. Even when we know there is no threat in the room, this is a non-verbal or somatic way to let your nervous system “see for itself”.

Box Breathing, a quick reset

Box breathing is a pattern of counting 4 on the inhale, hold for 4, exhale for 4 and hold for 4. Repeat a half dozen times.

Exhale 4 seconds, hold your breath 4 seconds, inhale 4 seconds, hold your breath 4 seconds. If that’s too long, make the count shorter the first two times then lengthen.
( 3 1/2 min)

4, 7, 8 BREATHING is another pattern that can reset our nervous system. Breathe in to 4, hold for 7 and breathe out for 8. Repeat several times.

Shake the Tree

Stand up and shake your hands, arms, shoulders, legs, hips.

Flick tension off the ends of your fingers.

Shaking and Dancing

Inspired by Dr James S Gordon, who does this with large groups of people.

Focus on your breath for 2 minutes, in through the nose, out through the mouth. As you inhale, think soft. As you exhale, think belly.
As you stand, feel your feet on the ground. For the next 2 minutes, shake your body. Begin in the lower legs, upper legs, hips, chest, shoulders, arms and hands, and head. Vary the tempo and level of vigor.
Come back to soft belly breathing – in through the nose, out through the mouth. As you inhale, think soft. As you exhale, think belly.
Put on music you like to dance to, like Pharrell William’s Happy. If you watch on YouTube, you may get inspired by the dancers as I do. Dance!
Come back to soft belly breathing – in through the nose, out through the mouth. As you inhale, think soft. As you exhale, think belly.
Notice how you feel. I love this practice and do it often. The shaking loosens something up and makes it easier to let go. The breathing is grounding. The dancing is creative and inspiring. Give it a try.

Breathe out at least six seconds

Exhaling at least six seconds activates your relaxation response.

Sing. Hum. Talk in longer sentences. Practice extended exhalation breathing. Dr Peter Levine recommends exhaling with the sound Voo.

(5 min)

Read Out Loud

Read the text on this page or something else out loud.


Hold your own hand: or rub your hands together, put 1 or both hands on your heart, feel the warmth.

Warm hug: Place your right hand under your armpit and the left on your opposite shoulder. Feel the warmth as you give yourself a hug.

Rub your hands together until they are warm.
Cup them over your eyes and absorb the warmth into your eyes.

Butterfly Hug: Place your right hand on your left shoulder, and your left hand on your right shoulder. Slowly tap alternating hands, giving yourself a butterfly hug. In addition to the warmth of your own hug, this also provides bilateral brain stimulation which is helpful for releasing trauma.

A second way to give yourself a butterfly hug is to place your right palm on the left side of your chest and your left palm on the right. Link your thumbs together and gently alternate lifting your “wings”. Try it at different speeds to see which is more grounding.

Throw it down

Stand with your arms above your head, fists clenched. Exhale forcefully while you throw your hands down and open your fingers. Throw the energy out of your body and into the ground.

Hug a safe person or animal, call a friend

Go out into nature

Relax Your Forehead

Relax your forehead while you worry. Keep softening your forehead and eyebrows and experience letting go of anxious thoughts.
(2 1/2 min)

Stand Down for just 3 minutes

For a few minutes, let yourself know you are safe and its okay to relax.
(3 min)

(6 min read)

When you have 10 minutes

Watch this informative video about how to handle crisis when it hits

Tools for Healing playlist: Five 2 minute videos describing how to investigate the energy/ sensations/ feelings in our body and learn what they mean.
1. Tapping: How to stay in today while remembering an incident.
2. Tracing: Another method to keep us in the present moment.
3. Changing Focus: Placing the image, the memory on a wall.
4. Locate and Describe: Viewing the sensation like a scientist would.
5. Mining Energy: Why is it here?

A twenty five minute guided practice

Twenty minutes of kindness and compassion for you.