6 Affordable Research-Backed Ways To Calm Your Nerves

Don't let your bank account keep you from regulating your nervous system.

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Feeling overwhelmed and stressed is never fun! And who hasn't been there, felt that?

But what if I told you there were healthier ways to deal with these emotions besides crying hysterically and screaming into a pillow — or compulsive shopping and expensive spa treatments? Would you be game for some healthy self-soothing techniques that won't blow your budget?

According to Cambridge Dictionary, to self-soothe means to “make yourself calm or happy.”


Unfortunately, there seems to be a misconception that the only way to calm ourselves and make ourselves happy is to spend stupid amounts of money on stuff that doesn't even address regulating our nervous systems.

Nawal Mustafa, a clinical neuropsychology Ph.D. candidate, shared her list of affordable ways to self-soothe in an Instagram post, and I was inspired to add more about my favorites.

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6 Affordable Ways To Calm Your Nerves

1. Drink a cup of herbal tea.

As "they" say, a cup of tea today keeps the stress away — or something like that (maybe I just say that)!

If you want to start self-soothing, one way is to try incorporating herbal tea. Specifically, peppermint tea!

According to Michigan State University, researchers exposed participants to the aroma of peppermint and the results showed an increase in both memory and alertness. When drivers are exposed to peppermint and cinnamon, they have less frustration, anxiety, and fatigue. As well as greater levels of alertness while driving.


Could herbal teas such as peppermint become the new, much cheaper Starbucks?

2. Take a nap.

Talk about the perfect excuse to seek silence, and cuddle under cozy covers in the middle of the day!

According to Kaiser Permanente, “Naps may have health benefits, like reducing stress and improving memory.”

More importantly, if you plan on incorporating this technique, be sure to do it halfway through the day and not towards your regular bedtime. According to Kaiser Permanente, our brain tends to dip in energy around two to three o’clock. So, this may be the perfect time to get a nap in for twenty to thirty minutes, says Kaiser Permanente.


3. Listen to your favorite music.

Are you more of a pop person or a jazz person? Regardless, according to Mustafa, listening to your favorite music may be the perfect way to self-soothe — and she's right on track!

The University of Nevada, Reno Counseling Services cements this idea by stating that upbeat music tends to make us feel happier, while slower tempo can make us feel more relaxed.

To get specific, Native American stringed instruments, drums, and flutes are shown to be good at relaxing the mind. Sounds of nature mixed with music such as light jazz, are also shown to be relaxing!

So, try playing some of your favorite songs and who knows, you may find yourself in a better and lighter mood than ever before!


4. Journal your thoughts.

“If you struggle with stress, depression, or anxiety, keeping a journal can be a great idea,” says the University of Rochester Medical Center.

They express that it can help you gain control of those overwhelming emotions and further improve your mental health by:

  • Managing your anxiety
  • Reducing your stress
  • Helping you cope with depression.



But how does this happen? Well, "Journaling can help you sort out your fears and concerns," writes the University of Rochester Medical Center. It can also help you track your symptoms and recognize what triggers you, so you can better control those triggers.


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5. Put on your comfiest clothes.

Have you ever thrown an outfit together, only to feel uncomfortable for the rest of the day? Maybe your outfit isn’t the most flattering or feels too tight. Regardless, that negative feeling matters and emphasizes just how important fashion is when it comes to our mental health.

According to cognitive psychologist Lawrence D. Rosenblum, “To reduce your stress levels, wear clothing that makes you feel happy and comfortable, like snuggly sweaters and your favorite jeans.”



He goes on to say that even though what we wear influences how others see us, it is also important to understand that it can influence how we feel about ourselves. So, dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable and happiest!


6. Go for a walk outside.

Mustafa writes, that going for a walk outside helps alleviate stress — and according to the American Heart Association, “Spending time in nature can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost feelings of happiness and well-being.”

So, whether it involves going on a bike ride around the neighborhood or on a 30-minute hike, a trip outside may be just what you need for a quick pick-me-up!

Why Self-Soothing Matters

It's no secret our bodies often pay the price when our minds are faced with stress. But why should we care? After all, stress can’t possibly affect us this horribly, right? Wrong!

"Negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, despair, fear, or shame, are consequences of feeling stressed," says Melissa Nunes-Harwitt, LMSW.


Even more, feeling completely numb can be another reaction you experience. So, when you are experiencing buckets of stress, what can you do?

This is why self-soothing is essential. According to Nunes-Harwitt, by engaging in self-soothing techniques, you can begin to feel at ease even when you’re alone.

Researcher Stephen Porges came up with a theory known as the polyvagal theory. This theory was used to give us an explanation for why we experience strong emotions and how we could learn to manage them.

Our nerves send messages throughout our body — and the signals from the sympathetic branch of our autonomic nervous system (ANS), put us into the infamous fight or flight mode. Further, the parasympathetic branch of the ANS, called the vagus nerve, puts our body into freeze mode.


This is why some of us feel detached and zone out in difficult situations.

If we want to open ourselves up and calm down, we must first work on strengthening our ventral vagal nerve, says Rochester Medical Center. But how do we strengthen it? By using self-soothing techniques, of course.

So, remember, if you want to develop better, healthier, less expensive ways to effectively alleviate stress — try giving these self-soothing techniques a whirl! They work better than you probably give them credit for.

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Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor's degree in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career, and family topics.