6 Simple Ways to Unfreeze your Nervous System and Get Unstuck

Kaitlyn Rose Holsapple
by: Kaitlyn Rose Holsapple
6 Simple Ways to Unfreeze your Nervous System and Get Unstuck

We've all been there. Numbing out, spiraling into self criticism, feeling empty and stuck in what feels like a perpetual state of emptiness.

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As a trauma healing expert who has healed my own PTSD, this is a response I know ALL too well. I know it feels like you're trapped and will be stuck in these feelings forever.

The good news is that your wise and intuitive body contains all of the resources it needs to work its way out of the freeze response. This article contains six powerful and foundational tools to help you along the way.

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The freeze response happens when you experience overwhelm or powerlessness in an area of your life. When the shock of not knowing how to navigate a stressful situation kicks in, your body enters a state of collapse. This often leads to:

  • A feeling of hopelessness
  • Self critical thinking on repeat
  • Feeling unmotivated and life you "can't do it anymore"
  • Overwhelm and defeat
  • Not wanting to get out of bed
  • Dissociation, or like you are "out of body"
  • Emotional numbness or emptiness
  • Literally feeling like you can't move, paralysis
  • Avoidance or procrastination

If you've ever experienced any of the above, then I'd like you to know you are HUMAN. These are not "issues" as we often label them, but actually a biological effect of your nervous system to keep you safe, stable, and alive.

I invite you to take a moment and say thank you to your body for doing this.

And yet, sometimes this response can inhibit your growth and evolution because you become stuck in it and don't know how to get out. The following 6 methods will teach you how to get unstuck when freezing is no longer necessary for your survival.


During frozen states, it's extremely common to begin to blame and criticize yourself. It's often easier to do that than to accept that sometimes the world can be an unsafe place. This often takes the form of self-blame, feeling like you're "not enough" or not doing enough, and thinking that you deserve to feel the way you do.

The first step to becoming unfrozen is actually giving yourself a little compassion and credit. Your body is doing the best it can with the resources it has. You can trust your body, it is taking care of you. You are not doing this to yourself, this is a function of your biology that is beyond conscious control.

So, give yourself a break and recognize that what you're going through is human, you are not alone in it, and it is NOT YOUR FAULT.


When you come across the void, empty feeling it can be helpful to use the power of imagery. In many ways, your mind can't biologically tell the difference between an actual real life experience and a visualization or memory. This is why visualizing is SO powerful! When I feel empty, I like to imagine flowers growing in my heart. Some other examples could be:

  • Imagine a time when you felt really joyful.
  • Imagine yourself as any color of sparkling light.
  • Imagine yourself as a tree with roots growing deep into the earth, and branches reaching high into the sky.
  • Imagine a loved person or pet in the room with you, providing you comfort and love.


Give your nervous system information that where you are in time and space is safe through your sense gates! This helps your body naturally readjust brainstates. Some ways to do this are:

  • Internally measure the distance between the four walls of the room and your left big toe (or any other body part).
  • Look for something in your space that is visually pleasing. Notice its colors, light, shadows, textures, and shapes as if you were going to have to paint it later with no visual reference. Feel something soft and cozy, like a piece of clothing or a blanket.
  • Smell your favorite aroma or essential oil.
  • Listen closely to a song you love, turning into the various sounds and how they feel in your body to hear.


It's likely at some point before your body became frozen, there was a somatic impulse your body had that you weren't able to take (for whatever reason). Because of that, mobilizing the body is really important for becoming unstuck. Bringing the body into conscious motion by swaying from side to side or shaking the body from head to toe can begin to move these impulses through. You may also feel a more acute impulse to run, push on a wall, hit a pillow, or yell. It's important to mobilize on these (in a safe and appropriate setting, of course) to get the energy unstuck in your body.


Since freezing is often the result of overwhelm, try reducing overwhelming sensory stimulation by:

  • Avoiding bright lights, crowds, and loud noises.
  • Covering your eyes with a sandbag and laying on your back for 10-20 minutes.
  • Give yourself a self massage to nourish your nerve endings.
  • Place a sandbag on your belly or chest to ground your body.
  • Put on noise canceling headphones or ear plugs.
  • Avoiding TV, cellphones, computers, or any other technological stressors.
  • Go out into nature for an hour or so, or on a nature weekend retreat.
  • Find a local float tank center


This isn't always a quick fix, yet in the work is always worthwhile. This is the way to become unstuck through your natural physiology rather than through numbing and self-medicating, which we do during freeze when we can't find a way out

The more you lean on these practices, the more effective they become in unfreezing your system. The most important thing to do is be kind and gentle with yourself, and to give your body credit for all of the work it's doing to keep you safe.

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