How to calm down?

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15 Ways to Calm Yourself Down

We all worry and get upset from time to time. It’s a normal part of life, right? But what happens when that anxiety or anger takes over, and you can’t calm down? Being able to calm yourself in the moment is often easier said than done.

That’s why having a few strategies you’re familiar with can help you when you’re feeling anxious or angry. Here are some helpful, actionable tips you can try the next time you need to calm down.

1. Breathe

“Breathing is the number one and most effective technique for reducing anger and anxiety quickly,” says Scott Dehorty, LCSW-C, of Delphi Behavioral Health.

When you’re anxious or angry, you tend to take quick, shallow breaths. Dehorty says this sends a message to your brain, causing a positive feedback loop reinforcing your fight-or-flight response. That’s why taking long, deep calming breaths disrupts that loop and helps you calm down.

There are various breathing techniques to help you calm down. One is three-part breathing. Three-part breathing requires you to take one deep breath in and then exhale fully while paying attention to your body.

Once you get comfortable with deep breathing, you can change the ratio of inhalation and exhalation to 1:2 (you slow down your exhalation so that it’s twice as long as your inhalation).

Practice these techniques while calm so you know how to do them when you’re anxious.

2. Admit that you’re anxious or angry

Allow yourself to say that you’re anxious or angry. When you label how you’re feeling and allow yourself to express it, the anxiety and anger you’re experiencing may decrease.

3. Challenge your thoughts

Part of being anxious or angry is having irrational thoughts that don’t necessarily make sense. These thoughts are often the “worse-case scenario.” You might find yourself caught in the “what if” cycle, which can cause you to sabotage a lot of things in your life.

When you experience one of these thoughts, stop and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this likely to happen?
  • Is this a rational thought?
  • Has this ever happened to me before?
  • What’s the worst that can happen? Can I handle that?

After you go through the questions, it’s time to reframe your thinking. Instead of “I can’t walk across that bridge. What if there’s an earthquake, and it falls into the water?” tell yourself: “There are people that walk across that bridge every day, and it has never fallen into the water.”

4. Release the anxiety or anger

Dehorty recommends getting the emotional energy out with exercise. “Go for a walk or run. in some physical activity serotonin to help you calm down and feel better.”

However, you should avoid physical activity that includes the expression of anger, such as punching walls or screaming.

“This has been shown to increase feelings of anger, as it reinforces the emotions because you end up feeling good as the result of being angry,” Dehorty explains.

5. Visualize yourself calm

This tip requires you to practice the breathing techniques you’ve learned. After taking a few deep breaths, close your eyes and picture yourself calm. See your body relaxed, and imagine yourself working through a stressful or anxiety-causing situation by staying calm and focused.

By creating a mental picture of what it looks like to stay calm, you can refer back to that image when you’re anxious.

6. Think it through

Have a mantra to use in critical situations. Just make sure it’s one that you find helpful. Dehorty says it can be, “Will this matter to me this time next week?” or “How important is this?” or “Am I going to allow this person/situation to steal my peace?”

This allows the thinking to shift focus, and you can “reality test” the situation.

“When we’re anxious or angry, we become hyper-focused on the cause, and rational thoughts leave our mind. These mantras give us an opportunity to allow rational thought to come back and lead to a better outcome,” Dehorty explains.

7. Listen to music

The next time you feel your anxiety level cranking up, grab some headphones and tune in to your favorite music. Listening to music can have a very calming effect on your body and mind.

8. Change your focus

Leave the situation, look in another direction, walk out of the room, or go outside.

Dehorty recommends this exercise so you have time for better decision making. “We don’t do our best thinking when anxious or angry; we engage in survival thinking. This is fine if our life is really in danger, but if it isn’t life threatening, we want our best thinking, not survival instincts,” he adds.

9. Relax your body

When you’re anxious or angry, it can feel like every muscle in your body is tense (and they probably are). Practicing progressive muscle relaxation can help you calm down and center yourself.

To do this, lie down on the floor with your arms out by your side. Make sure your feet aren’t crossed and your hands aren’t in fists. Start at your toes and tell yourself to release them. Slowly move up your body, telling yourself to release each part of your body until you get to your head.

10. Write it down

If you’re too angry or anxious to talk about it, grab a journal and write out your thoughts. Don’t worry about complete sentences or punctuation — just write. Writing helps you get negative thoughts out of your head.

You can take it one step further and make an action plan to continue staying calm once you’re done writing.

11. Get some fresh air

The temperature and air circulation in a room can increase your anxiety or anger. If you’re feeling tense and the space you’re in is hot and stuffy, this could trigger a panic attack.

Remove yourself from that environment as soon as possible and go outside — even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Not only will the fresh air help calm you down, but also the change of scenery can sometimes interrupt your anxious or angry thought process.

12. Fuel your body

If you’re hungry or not properly hydrated, many of these techniques won’t work. That’s why it’s important to slow down and get something to eat — even if it’s just a small snack.

13. Drop your shoulders

If your body is tense, there’s a good chance your posture will suffer. Sit up tall, take a deep breath, and drop your shoulders. To do this, you can focus on bringing your shoulder blades together and then down. This pulls your shoulders down. Take a few deep breaths. You can do this several times a day.

14. Have a centering object

When you’re anxious or angry, so much of your energy is being spent on irrational thoughts. When you’re calm, find a “centering object” such as a small stuffed animal, a polished rock you keep in your pocket, or a locket you wear around your neck.

Tell yourself that you’re going to touch this object when you’re experiencing anxiety or frustration. This centers you and helps calm your thoughts. For example, if you’re at work and your boss is making you anxious, gently rub the locket around your neck.

15. Identify pressure points to calm anger and anxiety

Going for a massage or getting acupuncture is a wonderful way to manage anxiety and anger. But it’s not always easy to find time in your day to make it happen. The good news is, you can do acupressure on yourself for instant anxiety relief.

This method involves putting pressure with your fingers or your hand at certain points of the body. The pressure releases the tension and relaxes your body.

One area to start with is the point where the inside of your wrist forms a crease with your hand. Press your thumb on this area for two minutes. This can help relieve tension.

8 Fast Ways to Calm Down When You’re Anxious AF

There are plenty of great ways to relax, from sweating it out to doing something nice for others to taking a nice, long stroll in nature.Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation. Bratman GN, Hamilton JP, Hahn KS. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2015, Jun.;112(28):1091-6490. But when you’re about to walk into a big meeting with your boss or finally meet Tinder bae IRL, ain’t nobody got time for a walk in the park. Next time you feel that rush of anxiety—and that red face—coming on, try one (or all) of these easy tips to calm down before anyone sees you break a sweat.

1. Get excited!

Getting rid of your nerves doesn’t always mean taking a chill pill. “It’s very hard to move from anxious thoughts to calm thoughts,” says Gail Saltz, M.D., a psychiatry professor at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Both nervousness and excitement are amped-up emotions, so it’s an easier transition. For most people (unless you’re a master meditator), Saltz says hopping on the excitement train is your best bet.Think: “I feel amped up because I’m going to go in and kill this meeting,” or “My boss is going to be really impressed,” Saltz suggests. She also recommends writing down these positive affirmations. “To some degree, you’re forcing yourself into a positive scenario, but even if you don’t fully believe yourself, you’ll help transition your nerves into excited energy,” Saltz says.

2. Think about pancakes.

We’re always down for pancakes, so we were pretty stoked when Meg Jay, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and the author of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter— and How to Make the Most of Them Now, told us to think about the breakfast treat during a stressful event, like a performance review. If your manager suggests things you can improve upon (such as replying to emails more professionally or turning around reports more quickly), think of them as pancakes on the griddle. “You need to take them off the stove, turn on a fan, or open a window,” Jay explains, “but the house is not burning down, so you don’t need to run screaming from the place.” In other words, if a meeting is getting you all worked up, thinking about “pancakes” can put it into perspective.Similarly, turning to Mother Nature (whether it’s looking out a window or Googling some awe-inspiring photos), can help your stresses seem small compared to how huge the world is. It can also help clear away inner turmoil, research suggests. Finally, as Tiffany Cruikshank, a certified yoga teacher and author of Meditate Your Weight, says, remind yourself (in your head or out loud) that everything passes. And think of past experiences where that has been true.

3. Put your hands on your hips.

Striking a “power pose” (exhibit A: Queen Bey with her hands on her hips or any of these high-power positions) can make a huge difference in the way you feel, Saltz says. In one study, people who struck a power pose for just two minutes per day had lower levels of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone.Power posing: brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance. Carney DR, Cuddy AJ, Yap AJ. Psychological science, 2010, Sep.;21(10):1467-9280.Practice in front of the mirror (or inside a bathroom stall) before a big meeting or a first date. That confidence can carry over into the nerve-wracking situation. Even sitting up tall and stretching your hands across your desk (like you own it!) is a great way to reap the benefits of power posing if you can’t sneak away to a private space.

4. Count your breaths.

You’ve probably heard that breathing can help you calm down, but have you actually tried it? Thought so. Here’s an easy place to start: Take five conscious, deep breaths anytime you feel stress coming on, Jay suggests, so your body starts to receive the breaths as a signal to calm down. Cruikshank suggests inhaling for three or four seconds and then exhaling for one or two seconds longer. Whichever breathing exercise you choose, it’s best to stick with one, consistent method that works for you. “Having a regular practice of some sort is really the way to train the mind and the nervous system,” Cruikshank says—just like training a muscle.

5. Go ahead—grab those chocolate chips.

Stress eating isn’t always healthy, but there are certain foods that can help your mind calm down a bit. Green tea, a handful of chocolate chips, or a slice of cheese are all good choices that contain compounds that may help bust anxiety and stress, says Taz Bhatia, M.D., an integrative wellness expert.Neurobiological effects of the green tea constituent theanine and its potential role in the treatment of psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. Lardner AL. Nutritional neuroscience, 2013, Nov.;17(4):1476-8305. Serotonin, tryptophan metabolism and the brain-gut-microbiome axis. O’Mahony SM, Clarke G, Borre YE. Behavioural brain research, 2014, Jul.;277():1872-7549.(Here are 25 more meals, from breakfast to dinner, that can also help boost your mood.) And steer clear of caffeine, alcohol, and super-sugary snacks if you’re getting nervous, Bhatia suggests, since they may make you more jittery.

6. Imagine being in your favorite yoga pose.

Or doing any other exercise you love. Picture something that’s particularly relaxing when you start to get nervous, Cruikshank says. Even if you can’t launch into tree pose or sneak out for a run, imagining the feeling of a calming activity can help you chill out.From mental power to muscle power–gaining strength by using the mind. Ranganathan VK, Siemionow V, Liu JZ. Neuropsychologia, 2004, May.;42(7):0028-3932.When you conjure up the specific details of what it feels like to be on a nice, long run or killing it at kick-boxing class, you’ll be surprised how your nervous thoughts will begin to drift away.

7. Wiggle your toes.

Mindfulness is a term that gets tossed around a lot, but at the most basic level, it’s all about being grounded, or centered, and aware of your body in some way. Go ahead and “ground” yourself: Focus on your feet, pushing them into the ground or wiggling your toes (easier in sandals!) to check in with your body. “Picking one point of your body to focus on helps direct your body into relaxation mode,” Cruikshank says.

8. Make small talk.

Intimidated by the person you’re about to face, whether a romantic interest or work supervisor? Remember they’re all just people. If you’re prone to getting nervous around your boss, make small talk with him or her around the office before you have a formal encounter, says Lynne Eisaguirre, a workplace consultant and author of We Need to Talk: Tough Conversations With Your Boss. “If you can develop a relationship, even through mundane conversation, it will make difficult conversations a lot easier,” she says. What about a situation where prior relationship building isn’t really an option (a.k.a. a first date)? Ask an open-ended question, Eisaguirre says. “If you get flooded by emotion, realize you don’t need to be talking all the time. People love to talk, and it will give you a chance to take a deep breath.” (Just avoid these nine treacherous topics on a first date!)

The Takeaway

We can’t control the way our bodies respond to stress (thanks, evolution!), but there are ways we can train—and maybe even trick—our minds to go from freaked out to excited or calm. It’s also important to remember that anxiety is something everyone faces at work and in life, but not everyone has an anxiety disorder, which requires professional help, not a few quick tips.

Finally, stress at work (outside the normal “Ahh! This meeting is a really BFD!”) could also indicate that you may be in the wrong job. “Listen to the things you say to yourself when you’re feeling anxious at work,” Jay says. There’s a major difference between “I really don’t want to do this” and “I really don’t want to fail at this.”

Stress Management: Relaxing Your Mind and Body

How can you relax your mind and body?

There are lots of ways to relax. Some ways are designed to relax your mind and some to relax your body. But because of the way the mind and body are connected, many relaxation methods work on both the mind and the body.

You may want to try one or more of the following relaxation tips to see what works best for you.

Relaxing the mind

  • Take slow, deep breaths. Or try other breathing exercises for relaxation.
    • Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation
  • Soak in a warm bath.
  • Listen to soothing music.
  • Practice mindful meditation. The goal of mindful meditation is to focus your attention on things that are happening right now in the present moment. For example, listen to your body. Is your breathing fast, slow, deep, or shallow? Do you hear noises, such as traffic, or do you hear only silence? The idea is just to note what is happening without trying to change it.
    • Stress Management: Doing Meditation
  • Write. Some people feel more relaxed after they write about their feelings. One way is to keep a journal.
  • Use guided imagery. With guided imagery, you imagine yourself in a certain setting that helps you feel calm and relaxed. You can use audiotapes, scripts, or a teacher to guide you through the process.
    • Stress Management: Doing Guided Imagery to Relax

Relaxing the body

  • Do yoga. You can get books and videos to do at home or take a yoga class.
    • Stress Management: Practicing Yoga to Relax
  • Try progressive muscle relaxation. This process involves tensing and relaxing each muscle group. Progressive muscle relaxation can reduce anxiety and muscle tension. If you have trouble falling asleep, this method may also help with your sleep problems. When you relax your muscles, your body gets the signal that it is okay to fall asleep.
    • Stress Management: Doing Progressive Muscle Relaxation
  • Take a walk or do some other activity. Making time to do things you enjoy can also help you relax.
  • Get a massage or have someone give you a back rub.
  • Have a warm drink that doesn’t have alcohol or caffeine in it, such as herbal tea or warm milk.

How To Calm Down: 30 Ways To Calm Your Mind Now

Helps with Stress relief, Self help, MENTAL HEALTH Updated on December 7, 2019

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12970shares Hey pretty! I’ve been dealing with a lot of stress lately (aren’t we all, right?). And through the years, I went through many different ups and downs.

Fortunately, even though it was hard, it made me so much stronger and I learned something new every time the storm has passed.

Being an anxious person and dealing with stress is like living in a “hard mode”.

“It could be so much easier if I could just relax” – I’m sure many of us had a thought like this at least once in our life.

But for an anxious person, it could be an everyday thing.

The good news is that no matter how hard it gets, you can help yourself.

While you can’t expect to live in a perfect, just or worry-free world, you can learn to accept what’s happening and most importantly – be ok with it.

You can adapt and stay strong through whatever life throws at you.

Yes, you really can, even if you don’t believe it yet!

You can be in distress and still be happy.

You can be patient.

You can learn how to calm down.

Here are my tried and true ways to calm down. Let’s relax!

What You Will Learn

How To Calm Down With Mindful Activities

1. Breathe slowly.

When you’re stressed, you tend to breathe in short, shallow breaths and it creates even more anxiety.

To counter that, try to breathe deeply and slowly for a few minutes.

Use your belly to breathe – it relaxes the body even more, thanks to the relaxed nerves in the diaphragm area.

Breathe slowly whenever you want to calm down, as often as you wish – it is one of the easiest ways to relax at least a little.

2. Try a guided meditation or visualization.

I swear, meditation changed my life.

Guided meditations are very easy to follow even if you’re a beginner. They’re also one of the most effective ways to calm down!

By listening to calming music or voice, you’re being told how to relax every part of your body, how to breathe, what to imagine and how to let go of what’s bothering you.

If you want to try it right now, check out my favorite meditation guru Jason Stephenson on Youtube – his voice and narratives are simply amazing!

Related: How to create a deeply relaxing meditation room

3. Do mindfulness exercises.

Mindfulness is a scientifically proven way to calm down and become more resilient day by day.

The main idea of mindfulness is to accept your feelings and emotions just the way they are.

Let them be around, observe them without judgment (like you’re watching yourself from aside) and most importantly – bring yourself back to the present moment.

Instead of living in your imaginary world, be here.

You can do that by tuning into your senses – touching and smelling different things around you, paying attention to your breath, noticing smells, sounds, and colors.

4. Reframe negative thoughts.

If you’re restless because something is bothering you, you’re probably thinking about it in a very negative way.

It certainly does not help!

A more therapeutic way to calm down is by trying to reframe your negative thoughts into something more positive.

Here are a few tools that can help you to do just that:

How To Calm Down With Calming Activities

5. Go outside.

If you’re sad, stressed or anxious, change your surroundings ASAP!

Being in the same place means staying in the same mood.

Go out, breathe in some fresh air, take a short walk to clear up your mind.

When you’re back, do something calming again.

Sometimes we need several rounds of calming activities in order to calm down because it takes some time for the stress response in our body to subside.

6. Take a warm shower or bath.

Warm water is like a therapy at your home so indulge in it for a quick calming session.

You can also do some slow breathing or imagine how you’re letting everything go while you’re in your bath.

7. Accept the distress.

The more you fight those unpleasant feelings, the more they will stick around.

Wonder if it’s true? Try not to think about a pink elephant for the next 60 seconds.

You will notice that it’s pretty hard!

The same thing happens with the thoughts you try to push away – they become intrusive.

Instead of fighting, allow those thoughts, feelings, and emotions to be there with you.

Imagine them coming into your room, staying there for a while… do not pay them more attention – just let them be there.

They will leave, sooner or later.

8. Write it all down.

Another great way to calm down is to simply spill it all out on the paper.

Write everything – how you feel, what is bothering you, what you’re thinking…

This is called journaling and I do it every day!

It doesn’t solve your problems but it helps you to take off those racing thoughts out of your head and that’s something.

Here are a few journals that you can download, print and calm down right away: Mental Health Journals

9. Set up your worry/anger/anxiety time.

Instead of being restless all the time, decide on a small time frame to do that (like every day at 12:00-12:15).

Whenever you find yourself worrying about something, write it down and put it away.

Only take out those worries at the designated time – then you can worry as much as you like, but other times just put those worries away again.

This method showed me that sometimes we worry about things that look completely ridiculous the next day.

10. Talk to someone.

You may not feel like it right now, but talking is one of the best ways to calm down, used by actual therapists every day, all over the world.

If you have a supporting person who can listen to you, talking can help you to look at things from another perspective and calm down your mind.

If you don’t have anyone to talk to, it’s ok!

You can always try online therapy services like Talkspace.

I did that several times, it certainly helped and I am not ashamed at all.

How To Calm Down By Shifting Your Mindset

11. Remind yourself that distress is temporary.

Every storm passes… Bad feelings or situations – they also pass.

Some may take a little longer, but eventually, all things will get better.

Stay patient.

12. To calm down your mind… Distract it!

Don’t let your mind go wild – give it something to do.

Distract yourself by watching a movie, going shopping, taking a walk, doing your nails, reading a book…

Your mind will certainly try to get back to intrusive thoughts and that’s ok – that’s what minds do!

Just try to bring your attention back to the activity and notice every small detail in it.

13. Listen to an uplifting podcast.

My personal favorite is The Anxiety Coaches Podcast, led by an amazing Gina Ryan.

I have learned so much about anxiety and how to calm down just from this podcast!

Gina’s voice is incredibly soothing and she helps you to understand why you’re feeling the way you feel and what to do about it.

How To Calm Down With Rest

14. Download a calming app.

Easy and fast way to calm down – if you like apps, there are tons of calming ones that you can try at the app store.

My favorite ones are for nature sounds but you can find great apps for mindfulness and meditation too.

15. Give yourself some time.

If it’s really hard for you to calm down, just give yourself some time.

When a stressful situation happens, our body releases stress hormones and it takes some time for them to settle down.

Don’t force yourself. Be brave, patient and eventually the stress response will subside.

16. Read about what’s worrying you.

I know this seems counter-intuitive but many times we’re anxious because we don’t understand things or possibilities for something to happen.

For example, you may be afraid of flying, because you hear about a plane crash once in a while.

But here’s a big-picture – there are about 38 million of flights happening per year.

Out of those 38 million, only 10-20 flights have an incident so the possibility for your plane to fall is very, very low.

17. Check if your worry is based on the facts.

Similar to the previous tip.

Always check your thoughts – are you thinking about real evidence or something that was made in your head?

If you’re unsure, write down all the facts you have.

Remember – facts are based on the evidence.

Everything else is not a fact!

This Thought Workbook can help you check if your mind is lying to you.

How To Calm Down With Healthy Activities

18. Plan your sleep hygiene.

This one is not instant, but very important so I decided to include it in this list. Sleep hygiene, or things you do to have the best sleep possible, can determine your mood the next day.

To calm down before sleep, make sure your sheets are clean and comfortable.

Have the last meal 3 hours before bed.

Do some sleep meditation and turn off your devices an hour or two before sleep.

If you can’t sleep, don’t toss and turn in your bed – get up, do something calming and then try again.

Related tool: Sleep Tracker Printable

19. Eat a tasty (preferably – healthy) meal.

Eating is something our bodies enjoy and it’s also a way to calm down, at least temporarily.

Eat something you really really like, especially if you find yourself losing your appetite due to stress.

Don’t think about calories this time!

Let yourself enjoy the food – you need this and there’s nothing wrong with having a bigger or richer meal once in a while. Just don’t make it a habit.

20. Do a short, slow, easy workout.

Moving allows your body to release endorphins – positive happiness hormones.

It also helps your body minimize your stress response faster thus helping you relax.

Slow yoga is absolutely perfect at times like this, but you can also try Tai-Chi, Chi-Gung or simply walking.

How To Calm Down By Releasing Negative Energy

21. Get back to the present moment.

Whenever you feel restless, check if you’re in the present moment or in other words – living now.

Many times we are ruminating about things that have already happened (and therefore can’t be changed) or have never happened (which means we are worrying about something that isn’t even real or fact-based).

In these cases, mindfulness activities can be a huge lifesaver! Here are 15 ways to calm down using mindfulness.

22. Do something monotonic.

Monotonic actions can be a really soothing way to calm down – think of a mother swinging the cradle and helping her baby relax.

Try knitting, doing your nails, curling your hair… anything that involves repeating the same action again and again.

Also read: 10 stress relief activities for introverts

23. Cry it all out.

Sometimes we have an emotional overload and crying is simply the best way to release it.

Remember – there is nothing wrong with crying.

It doesn’t mean you’re weak.

In fact, it really helps when there’s just too much of everything.

So cry it out, wipe your tears and you may find yourself feeling a little better.

How To Calm Down With Positivity

24. Look for a brighter side.

There’s a bright side to everything!

If you feel down or angry, try to rethink the situation and find one positive thing about it.

Here’s an example: I got into a terrible fight with my sister and it seems like we won’t be talking for years.

BUT at least I don’t have to deal with her daily negativity attacks anymore.

25. Counter it with gratitude.

Gratitude turns what we have into enough and is a perfect way to counter a lot of negative emotions.

Be grateful for big things, be grateful for small – even having an air to breathe is worth appreciation.

Read more about gratitude here: 5 ways to stay positive with gratitude

26. Look at your feelings and emotions from perspective.

If you want to calm down, it really helps to separate yourself from your emotions.

Sometimes we suffer because it feels like our emotions are an inseparable, physical part of us.

For example, after a breakup, you may feel like someone “stabbed you in the heart”.

But if you look at yourself from a third person perspective, it may feel less painful.

Imagine watching yourself from aside and your feelings – floating around, but not being a part of you.

This helps you to understand that your pain or your fear is not you.

You are you and those things are just emotions – they come and go. All the time.

Other Ways To Calm Down

27. Let in some fresh air.

Sometimes all we need is a fresh breeze to calm down and be more present.

Open the window, go to your balcony and breathe in some fresh oxygen – slowly and deeply.

28. Check if your thoughts are logical.

People often get stuck in unhelpful or illogical thinking patterns, called thought distortions.

You can take a look at them here: Cognitive Distortions.

Basically, distortion is your brain lying to you.

Whenever you catch yourself stuck in overthinking, check for these distortions in your thoughts.

After you’ve spotted one (or a few), reframe your thoughts to a more logical version.

It’s a more psychological way to calm down and honestly, sometimes it’s the only one that helps!

29. Light some candles.

The candlelit atmosphere helps to create a calming mood.

Just make sure to put your candles on a safe surface and never leave them burning if you know you may fall asleep.

30. Imagine yourself as a strong woman and act like it.

Our mind controls everything in our body, including our feelings.

If you want to calm down, be more confident or express any other quality, imagine yourself being someone with those qualities and then act like it.

It may feel weird at first but soon you will fool yourself (and that’s a good thing!).

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Also read: How to be more comfortable in your own skin

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Simple Ways to Calm Down During Times of Stress and Anxiety

September 13, 2019 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Living in states of anxiety and stress are the norms these days, evidenced by the rise in book sales on mental health. Entrepreneurs admit to being addicted to “the grind” and “the hustle” — some wear it as a badge of honor. It has created what Barnes and Noble calls “The Anxious Nation,” which is great for booksellers but not so great for the rest of us.

As an entrepreneur who, like many, juggle family, wellness and a personal life, I am guilty of arriving to everything “on two wheels,” at the minute the meeting begins and always striving to overachieve at everything I do, be it a project, an event, a workout and even the creative meals I serve my family for dinner. We hustle from Monday to Friday and when the weekend rears its head, we rejoice that the struggle of the five-day workweek is over — until the Sunday Scaries kick in. We accept the struggle as a necessary facet of modern life, but should we? What’s at the root of this lifestyle and how can we change it?

The answer lies within.

If we look around, we see an ocean full of “hustlers,” and “busy” people who are competitive and live in a dog-eat-dog world. We believe hustle should equal happiness, and we feel we need to be “busy” or in the act of “doing” to feel effective and satisfied. We speak quickly, we text back quickly and we order many things “to-go” in this world of hustle.

Related: 10 Ways Smart People Stay Calm

And we are hard on ourselves, usually unhappy with our bodies, or our performance results, and forget who it is that we are trying to please in the first place. Are we truly connecting with our hearts? Are we listening to our breaths? For most of us, no.

I began practicing yoga more seriously than “just for stretching” about 10 years ago, just after my first child was born. Through lessons from expert yogis who focus on breath work and meditation, I learned to look inward. When we look for self-help, we look outward – we look for self-help books, we reach out to therapists and even more prevalent now, we express our feelings over social media, and tell the world what we are going through, looking for validation, support and affirmation. We are dependent on others, and that’s okay, but in doing this, we have lost connection with ourselves – our hearts, our breath, our minds.

Try this one-minute breathing exercise.

A technique called “Box Breathing” is a great way to start and helpful for managing stress: inhale for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, pause at the bottom of the exhale for a count of 4, and repeat. This deep breathing exercise has been shown to be a powerful stress reliever and effective for improving concentration and is touted by everyone from athletes to Navy SEALS.

Related: 6 Ways To Calm Yourself Before Giving A Big Presentation or Talk

Practice getting in the right mindset.

While some days may be better than others, our mantras shouldn’t be “The struggle is real!” A couple of mental tactics that can help ease anxiety during the workday include expressing gratitude and resisting perfectionism. So for example, recognize the people and opportunities around you that are lucky to have, from the most simple things like good office coffee to more complex things like a great team and the ability for flexible hours or to work remotely.

With regards to perfectionism, acknowledge that mistakes can happen and use them as learning opportunities. Focus more on what you can control, such as your attitude, how hard you try and the way you treat people. Next time you walk into a meeting, open the door for someone, offer a genuine compliment, or simply listen to someone without looking at your phone. Or better yet, take the meeting outside and make it a “sweatwork” as exercise and fresh air are both stress reducers.

Related: 7 Strategies to Stay Cool, Calm and Collected During a Job Interview

In this “anxious nation” where time flies, we need to take a pause, breathe and look inward. My hope is that in the future, we will have a better connection to our hearts, and our obsession with “the struggle” will be replaced by feeling joy and gratitude, feeling more connected to ourselves, and ultimately, more alive. Because it’s the inhale and the exhale, our very own breaths, that keep us alive, right?

14 Instant Ways to Calm Yourself Down

As a highly sensitive person (as defined by Elaine Aron in her bestseller The Highly Sensitive Person), I’m easily overwhelmed or over-aroused. As such, I am always looking for ways to calm down. Here are some techniques I have compiled over the years. Some of them I picked up in Aron’s book, some as part of the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program I participated in, and others in Lauren Brukner’s fantastic book The Kids’ Guide to Staying Awesome and in Control (but they work for adults, too).

1. Get to the Pressure Point With Hand Massage

I learned this one in both the MBSR program and in Brukner’s book. What’s great about it is that you can do it while attending a lecture, listening to your kids fight, or sitting at your desk working. No one will notice. Simply use the thumb of one hand and press around the palm of the other hand. It’s very soothing.

2. Relieve Stress and Ground Yourself With a Palm Push

By pushing your palms together and holding for 5 to 10 seconds, you give your body “proprioceptive input,” according to Brukner, which “lets your body know where it is in space.” I like this one because it reminds me of tree position in yoga, which is the last of the standing series postures in Bikram yoga. The palm push is like a mini, portable tree position I can pull out anytime to calm down.

3. Combat Stressful Situations by Closing Your Eyes

Aron says that 80 percent of sensory stimulation comes in through the eyes, so shutting them every now and then gives your brain a much-needed break. She also says that she has found that highly sensitive persons do better if they can stay in bed with their eyes closed for nine hours. We don’t have to be sleeping. Just lying in bed with our eyes closed allows for some chill time that we need before being bombarded with stimulation.

4. Sigh to Help Yourself Be Fully Present in the Moment

During the MBSR class, we would take a few mindful sighs between transitioning from one person speaking to another. You breathe in to a count of five through your mouth, and then you let out a very loud sigh, the sound you hear your teenager make. I was always amazed at how powerful those small sighs were to adjust my energy level and focus.

5. Do This Monkey Stretch to Release Tension

In this exercise, you bring your hands (arms extended) in front of you, then bring the arms down. Then you bring your arms (still extended) to your side, and then down. Finally you bring your arms all the way past your head and then swoop down, with your head dangling between your knees, and you hang out there for a second. This exercise is extremely effective at releasing the tension we hold in different parts of our body.

6. Give Yourself a 10-Second Hug to Boost Your Mood

Did you know that a 10-second hug a day can change biochemical and physiological forces in your body that can lower the risk of heart disease, combat stress, fight fatigue, boost your immune system, and ease depression? You can begin by giving yourself a hug. By squeezing your belly and back at the same time, you are again giving yourself proprioceptive input (letting your body know where you are in space), says Brukner, which can help stabilize you.

7. Stabilize Yourself With a Five-Second Wall Push

The wall push is especially beneficial for people with sensory integration issues. You simply push against the wall with flat palms and feet planted on the floor for 5 to 10 seconds. If you’ve ever experienced an earthquake, you can appreciate why this gesture is calming — placing the weight of our body against a solid, immobile surface and feeling the pull of gravity is stabilizing, even on a subconscious level.

8. Gain Power and Calm With a Superman Pose

If you do Bikram yoga, the Superman pose is basically the full Locust position (airplane position), except the arms and the hands are stretched out in front of you, not to the sides. You lie on your belly on the floor and extend your arms in front of you. At the same time, you extend your legs behind you and hold them straight out. Hold that pose for 10 seconds. It’s a great exercise if you are groggy, overexcited, distracted, or antsy.

9. Shake It Off and You’ll Free Yourself From Fear

Did you know that animals relieve their stress by shaking? Lots of animals like antelopes shake off their fear after being frozen in panic to escape a predator. In the MBSR program, we practiced shaking for about 15 minutes at a time. I can’t say it looked all that pretty, but neurologically, I do believe it was beneficial.

10. Inhale Deeply for a Relaxing Bubble Breath

My favorite exercise in Brukner’s book is the Bubble Breath, because it is so simple and calming. Here’s how to do it:

  • Breathe in for five seconds, out for five seconds.
  • Imagine you have a wand with a bubble on it. When you breathe out, be careful not to pop the bubble.
  • Place one flat palm on your heart, one flat palm on your belly.
  • Breathe in through your nose and hold your breath for five seconds.
  • Breathe out a large “bubble” through pursed lips, blow out for five seconds.

11. Pour a Few Drops of Lavender Essential Oil

There are different theories as how and why lavender oil calms you down. Some scientists believe that lavender stimulates the activity of brain cells in the amygdala (fear center) similar to the way some sedatives work. Others think molecules from essential oils interact in the blood with enzymes and hormones. Research backs its soothing results. A study published in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine measured the responses of 17 cancer hospice patients to humidified essential lavender oil aromatherapy. Results reflected a positive change in blood pressure and pulse, pain, anxiety, depression, and sense of well-being. I sometimes use lavender oil to sleep better.

12. Hydrate With Water and Meditate on Water

During the workday, I will often walk a block over to a creek and follow the subtle current with my eyes. Maybe it is because as infants we emerged from water that it has the power to soothe. “Water helps in many ways,” writes Aron. “When overaroused, keep drinking it — a big glass of it once an hour. Walk beside some water, look at it, listen to it. Get into some if you can, for a bath or a swim. Hot tubs and hot springs are popular for good reasons.”

13. Music Therapy Heals the Body, Mind, and Soul

From the earliest days of civilization, music has been used to heal the body and soul, and to express what is difficult to articulate in words. Victor Hugo once said, “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” Therapists have tapped into the healing power of creative lyrics and the composition of notes to design music therapy programs for persons struggling with depression.

14. Reduce Anxiety With the Four-Square Breathing Exercise

A final breathing exercise to try is the “Four Square,” which I learned years ago to reduce anxiety:

  • Breathe in slowly to a count of four.
  • Hold the breath for a count of four.
  • Exhale slowly through pursed lips to a count of four.
  • Rest for a count of four (without taking any breaths).
  • Take two normal breaths.
  • Start over again with number one.

10 Instant Ways to Calm Yourself Down

As a highly-sensitive person (as defined by Elaine Aron in her bestseller The Highly Sensitive Person), I’m easily overwhelmed, or over-aroused (not in a sexual way — not on antidepressants).

I have been compiling ways to calm down over the years. I learned some in Aron’s book, some as part of the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program I participated in, and just recently picked up a slew of them in Lauren Brukner’s fantastic book, The Kids’ Guide to Staying Awesome and in Control. Brukner is an occupational therapist who helps kids who have sensory integration issues be able to keep it together in school. However, her calming techniques are brilliant for adults, too.

4. Mindful Sighing

During the MBSR class, we would take a few mindful sighs when transitioning from one person speaking to another. Basically you breathe in to a count of five through your mouth, and then you let out a very loud sigh, the sound you hear your teenager make. I was always amazed at how powerful those small sighs were to adjust my energy level and focus.

5. Mindful Monkey Stretch

A couple of times during the MBSR class, we would stand in back of our chairs, move at least an arm’s length from each other in a circle, and do these exercises that I call mindful monkey stretches. We brought our hands, arms extended, in front of us, then brought the arms down. Next we brought our arms (still extended) to our sides, and then down. Next we brought our arms all the way past our heads and then swooped down, our head dangling between our knees, and hung there for a second. This exercise is extremely effective at releasing the tension we hold in different parts of our body. Our teacher said she does it before her lectures and it works to release the jitters.

7. Wall Push

Another great exercise to ground kids (and I add adults) with sensory integration issues, according to Brukner, is the wall push, where you simply push against the wall with flat palms and feet planted on the floor for five to ten seconds. If you’ve ever experienced an earthquake, you can appreciate why this gesture is calming … placing the weight of our body against a solid, immobile surface and feeling the pull of gravity is stabilizing, even on a subconscious level.

8. Superman Pose

If you do Bikram yoga, the superman pose is basically the full locust position (airplane position), except the arms and the hands are stretched out in front of you, not to the sides. “Lie on your belly on the floor,” explains Brukner. “Extend your arms in front of you, and hold them straight out. Extend your legs behind you and hold them straight out.” Hold that pose for ten seconds. It’s a great exercise if you are groggy, overexcited, distracted, or antsy.

10. Bubble Breath

My favorite exercise in Brukner’s book is the Bubble Breath, because it is so simple and calming. Brukner explains:

Breathe in for five seconds, out for five seconds.

Imagine you have a wand of bubbles. When you breathe out, be careful not to pop it.

Place one flat palm on your heart, one flat palm on your belly.

Breathe in through your nose and hold your breath for five seconds.

Breathe out a large “bubble” though pursed lips, blow out for five seconds.

Join ProjectBeyondBlue.com, the new depression community.

Photo by Laura LaRosa

Originally posted on Sanity Break at Everyday Health.

10 Instant Ways to Calm Yourself Down

3 Essential Exercises to Calm Anxiety

Source: Austin Neill/unsplash.com

Whether you have occasional worries or full-blown anxiety attacks, deep-breathing is a must for maintaining optimal physical health and emotional well-being.

Deep-breathing is so vital because, in addition to helping you stay calm and avoid knee-jerk reactions, breathing is your best defense against panic attacks. If you’ve ever suffered one, you know how scary the experience can be. Maybe you thought you were having a heart attack, or worse—you may have felt like you were knocking on death’s door.

According to a study published by the Journal of Emergency Medicine, 30 percent of patients who seek treatment at emergency rooms with complaints of chest pain (and no evidence of coronary artery disease) suffer from panic disorder. When we’re stressed out, we tend to over-breathe (rapid, shallow breaths that resemble panting), a culprit in panic reactions, or under-breathe (hold our breath) which can cause dizziness or hyperventilation.

Studies show that deep breathing increases brain functioning, soothes the nervous system, cleanses the lungs, and promotes quality sleep. It’s a win-win, and these three techniques can help you get on the right side of calm.

1. Belly-breathing

Sit with your eyes closed and turn your attention to your breathing. Breathe naturally, preferably through the nostrils, without attempting to control your breath. Be aware of the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils.

Step one: Place one hand on your belly, and the other on your chest. Take a deep breath for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of three. Exhale for a count of four. The hand on your chest should remain relatively still, while the hand on your belly rises gently upward. Contract your abdominal muscles to exhale, breathing out through your mouth.

Step two: Concentrate on your breath and forget everything else. Your mind may be busy, and you may feel that this exercise is making your mind busier, but the reality is you’re becoming more aware of your mind’s busy state.

Step three: Resist the temptation to follow the different thoughts as they arise, and focus on the sensation of the breath. If you discover that your mind has wandered and is following your thoughts, immediately return it to the breath.

Repeat as many times as necessary until your mind settles on the breath.

2. One Minute Breathing

Start by breathing in and out slowly to become aware of your natural breathing rhythm. Let the breath flow in and out effortlessly, as you prepare your lungs for deeper breaths.

Step one: Inhale for a count of four.

Step two: Hold for a count of seven. (If you feel dizzy, hold for four until you can build up to seven.)

Step three: Exhale for a count of eight.

Repeat four times.

3. Alternate Nostril Breathing

Step one: Use your right thumb to close off your right nostril.

Step two: Inhale slowly through your left nostril.

Step three: Pause for a count of one.

Step four: Now close your left nostril with your ring finger and release your thumb off your right nostril.

Step five: Exhale through your right nostril.

Step six: Now, inhale through your right nostril.

Step seven: Pause for a count of one.

Step eight: Close off your right nostril with your right thumb.

Step nine: Breathe out through your left nostril.

Start slowly with one or two sets and gradually increase the number. Sit quietly for a few moments after you have finished.

Source: Zai Aragon/

Besides developing a wonderful, calming habit, intentional focus on deep-breathing can mean starting your day in a mindful state. Remember, anxiety loathes action, so stay three steps ahead by inhaling the good, and exhaling the bad.

***

For additional support to manage your anxiety so it doesn’t manage you, check out Holistic Healing for Anxiety: A four-week online course.

Follow Linda on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Copyright 2017, Linda Esposito, LCSW

13 Healthy Ways to Comfort Yourself

Whenever you’re anxious, sad or overwhelmed or simply need some soothing, it helps to have a collection of comforting — and healthy — tools to turn to.

But some calming activities don’t work for everyone.

For instance, some people are allergic to bath salts, while others can’t drink herbal tea because of possible drug interactions (e.g., blood thinners). Many of us also can’t afford manicures or massages. And most of us are pressed for time.

So we asked three experts for their take on how readers can truly soothe their minds and bodies without needing more money, time or anything else, for that matter. Below are 13 strategies anyone can use to comfort themselves when they’re having a bad day.

1. Stretch your body.

Anxiety tends to hijack the body. While everyone stores anxiety in different spots, common areas are the jaw, hips and shoulders, according to Anna Guest-Jelley, a body empowerment educator, yoga teacher and founder of Curvy Yoga. She suggested standing up and doing a full-body stretch. “Reach your arms overhead then slowly fold forward slowly open and close your mouth as you do.”

2.Take a shower.

Taking a shower after a rough day always makes Darlene Mininni, Ph.D, MPH, author of The Emotional Toolkit, feel better. And she’s certainly not alone. Now research is illuminating why cleansing may wash away our woes.

Mininni cited this interesting review, which notes “a growing body of research suggests…after people cleanse themselves, they feel less guilty about their past moral transgressions, less conflicted about recent decisions, and are less influenced by recent streaks of good or bad luck.”

3. Visualize a peaceful image.

The image you pick can be anything from the sun to ocean waves to a furry friend, Guest-Jelley said. She suggested combining the visualization with breath, and repeating the sequence several times. As you inhale and reach your arms out in front of you, hold the image in your mind, she said. Then exhale and bring both hands to your heart, all the while thinking of the image, she said.

4. Speak compassionately to yourself.

Being self-compassionate boosts mental health, Mininni said. (Some research even suggests that it helps you reach your goals.) This means extending yourself some kindness as you would to a good friend, she said.

Unfortunately, being self-compassionate doesn’t come naturally to many of us. Fortunately, you can learn to treat yourself with consideration and care. Here are some ideas on being kinder to yourself and cultivating self-compassion.

5. Reach out.

Reach out to people you trust to support you. “We are wired to connect with others and to comfort each other through emotional and physical connection,” said Julie Hanks, LCSW, a therapist and blogger at Psych Central.

6. Ground yourself.

When stress strikes, some people feel lightheaded or like they’re floating outside their bodies, Guest-Jelley said. Making a point to feel your feet against the ground can help, she said. “Grounding your feet can bring you back into your body and help you navigate what you want to do next,” she said. “Visualize thick roots growing down from your feet into the center of the Earth, rooting you and giving you a firm foundation.”

7. Listen to soothing music.

“Create a playlist of soothing songs that help you to slow down or connect with memories or positive experiences,” Hanks said. We’ve mentioned before the benefits of listening to calming music. Pairing soothing tunes with deep breathing helps, too, according to one study, which found it lowered blood pressure.

8. Practice mindfulness.

To practice mindfulness, “You don’t need to sit like a pretzel,” Mininni said. Simply focus on what you’re doing right now, whether that’s washing the dishes, walking to your car or sitting at your desk, she said. Pay attention to the sights, scents and sounds surrounding you, she said.

For instance, if you’re washing the dishes, focus on the scent of the soap and the hot water cascading from the faucet and onto your hands, she said.

Mininni applies mindfulness to her feelings. In the moment, she asks herself what her emotion feels like. Doing this actually allows her to detach from her feelings and thoughts and simply observe them as if she were watching a movie. This helps you get out of your head and into your body, she said.

9. Move your body.

According to Hanks, “If you’re feeling tempted to engage in self-destructive behavior to calm down, engage in something positive and active, like exercise or playing a physical game.”

10. Picture the positive.

When we’re anticipating a potentially stressful situation, we start thinking of all the different ways it can go wrong. Again, you can use visualization to your advantage. “To pull yourself out of internal dramalogue, try imagining the situation going well,” Guest-Jelley said. “Feel what you want to feel in the moment and see yourself disengaging from tricky conversations situations,” she said.

11. Zoom out.

Look at the situation or stressor from a bigger perspective, Hanks said. “When you’re in the moment, current challenges seem enormous, but placing your situation into the ‘bigger picture’ of your life may help you realize that you may not need to give it so much emotional energy,” she said.

For instance, she suggested asking yourself: “Will this matter in one year? In fie years? When I reach the end of my life, how important will this situation be in retrospect?”

12. Practice alternate nostril breathing.

Breathing techniques are an instant way to soothe your body. Taking deep, slow breaths tells your brain that everything is OK, which then calms the rest of the body. Guest-Jelley suggested going through this series:

  • Using your dominant hand, “make a U-shape with your thumb and pointer finger.
  • If you’re using your right hand, press your right thumb into your right nostril, gently closing it. Inhale through your left nostril.
  • Next, press your right index finger against your left nostril, closing it, as you release your thumb from the right nostril – allowing yourself to exhale through the right nostril.
  • Repeat by inhaling through the right nostril, then closing it and exhaling through the left nostril.
  • Continue like this for at least 10 full breaths.”

13. Let yourself feel bad.

Remember that you don’t have to fix your feelings right away. It’s important to have a toolbox of healthy strategies to turn to at any time. But don’t feel guilty for feeling bad or fault yourself if you aren’t seeing rainbows and unicorns.

Mininni stressed the importance of giving yourself permission to acknowledge and honor your feelings and stay with them. “Sometimes it’s OK to just say I’m having a really crappy day,” she said.

Plus, “Feelings have a purpose,” she said. They send us important messages that something isn’t quite right, she said. When you’re ready to feel better, then reach for a healthy strategy, she said.

13 Healthy Ways to Comfort Yourself

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