I want to say upfront that this is not a technical article. I will provide some resources at the end of this article for those who would like to explore further.
Our nervous system is built to react when our safety is threatened. When we are in danger our nervous system activates to fight, flight or freeze/faint which can be a highly effective survival skill that our body activates for us; this is not a logic-driven process. If we have trauma (doesn't have to be "major" trauma) we may be triggered by other people, events in our environment or by our own beliefs/thoughts which can lead to emotionally flooding and overwhelm. If we become overwhelmed in this way our nervous system perceives a threat and may then move into fight, flight, freeze when our survival is NOT at stake. This can be very problematic as once this happens the frontal lobe/neocortex starts to go "off line" making it hard for us to learn, take in new information, be reasonable or rational. If we move into a flooded state there are resourcing tools that are highly effective for regulating the nervous system (this doesn't mean our emotions go away, by the way...). For all of us it's highly beneficial to practice and strengthen nervous system regulation tools, which at the very least benefits us when we are feeling emotions strongly...mad, sad, scared, and even big joy, in an argument, in heavy traffic, wanting to take a risk you're excited about, etc.
The following may apply to highly dys-regulated states, but it's helpful to practice before we are activated to lay a body memory for these skills! Some skills may apply better to smaller dys-regulation. I will say that the master regulation skill is BREATH.
ACTIVE WAYS TO NERVOUS SYSTEM REGULATION:
(breathing deep into the belly regulates the nervous system and send the message that we are safe while shallow high breathing send the message to our nervous system that we are threatened)
(too many different approaches to meditation to mention here)
dance, yoga, tai chi, moving with the instinct of the body such as shaking, rocking, etc.
(increase levels of the stress reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol)
Talking Outloud/Naming Body Sensation
If you're naming how your body feels outloud such as "I feel butterflies in my stomach and my face feels hot. It feels better if I massage my hands." your mind has a very hard time running thoughts, stories and beliefs that would rev up emotions.
Talking Outloud/Orienting to Environment
Look around, name the color of the furniture, touch and name the texture of a chair. Again, when we're naming outloud or mind can't easily run problematic stories about what is happening.
Using Touch & Texture
Examples: fidget cubes, stuffed animals, sand, etc.
Brain soothing sound, relaxing sound
ACTIVE SKILLS FOR SMALLER DYS-REGULATION:
Some fragrances and help us regulate and relax the nervous system such as lavender, cinnamon, orange
Closing Our Eyes
Many Herbs Nourish the Nervous System
Having a cup of tea such as chamomile or lemon balm can calm the nervous system
SEMI PASSIVE (& BEING ATTUNED TO BY ANOTHER):
Taking a Hot Bath or Shower
Getting into the Ocean
Sitting and Watching the Water
Sitting in the Sunshine
Being held by another, regulating from their nervous system
This is a very long list. Some of these approaches are more for building resilience in your nervous system for overall health and embodiment over time AND some are about how to regulate in the moment, but even the in-the-moment approaches are more effective if we practice when our nervous system is relaxed and can learn!
More Technical Article on Neuroscience: loveandlifetoolbox.com/the-neuroscience-of-resilience-nervous-system-regulation/