Quietening your nervous system

This information sheet from Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) explains about how you can quieten your nervous system following some simple exercises. This is particularly helpful if you have an overactive bladder and feel like you want to wee a lot. These exercises help distract your nervous system from the messages sent by your overactive bladder.

Warming your hands

This exercise helps quieten your nervous system, so reducing your bladder urges, by distracting it with repeated thoughts.

  1. Focus on your hands, saying to yourself “My hands are getting warmer and warmer”
  2. Think of a warm colour and surround your hands with that colour, letting it flow from your wrists to your fingers 
  3. Think of a warm place, such as holding a hot mug of tea or putting your hands over a hot radiator
Practise this exercise every hour for about 30 to 60 seconds each time. Set a reminder on your mobile phone to remind you. You can do this exercise anywhere and no one need ever know.

Breathing using your diaphragm

The diaphragm is a curved muscle that separates the contents of the chest from the abdomen (tummy). Concentrating on breathing using your diaphragm can help calm down your body and relax you.

  1. Lie on your back in a comfortable position
  2. Breathe in through your nose, letting your abdomen rise and your lower back arch gently
  3. Breathe out through your mouth or nose, letting your abdomen fall and your lower back flatten
As you get used to breathing using your diaphragm, do the exercise lying back in a comfortable chair, then sitting upright and finally standing. When you can do the exercise sitting or standing up, practice four to five diaphragmatic breaths every hour throughout the day.

Calming your body and mind

This exercise is useful for generally calming yourself down and can even help you get a good night’s sleep.

  1. Lie down in a quiet room on a bed or reclining chair
  2. Focus on your breathing letting your tummy rise when you breathe in and fall when you breathe out
  3. Think about how the bed or chair is supporting you and let yourself droop into that support
  4. Starting with your head and neck, notice where you feel tight and tense and gradually relax each area, saying to yourself “My head and neck are calm and relaxed”
  5. Do the same with your shoulders 
  6. Move down the body focusing on each part of the body in turn
  7. When your entire body is calm and relaxed, focus again on your breathing
Repeat this exercise once or twice a day – you could use a relaxation CD as well if you find that helps.