How to Calm Down Quickly?
When I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed, the last thing I need to hear is “just calm down”. That not only never works, but it usually throws me into a deeper state of nervousness. What I have found through my years of practice as a therapist is this: every person needs to find what works for them. There are no set rules, no defined techniques. It is with trial and error that we finally discover what really works with us when we’re in that state of non-reasoning, full-feeling mode.
Here are calming techniques that work – and they work quickly at that. Try each one out a few times at least, until you find what fits you best. You might combine a few, or find one that works better than another in a specific setting. Bottom line is- you are your best teacher at this.
Calming Techniques You need to Know
Your Breathing is Everything
How you take each breath is in itself a message to your brain about your physical condition, whether you are calm or stressed. So being attuned to your breathing when you’re stressed will tell your brain that you are either tense or calm. You can take advantage of this knowledge, and make sure to drop everything the next time you’re stressed. And prioritize correct breathing so your brain knows you are okay, and subsequently lower your physical response to stress, normalizing or regulating your heart rate, your blood pressure, and your sweating.
A few of my favorites are the popular boxed breathing technique (in for 4, hold for 4, out for 4, hold for 4) and breathing through your nose for 6, hold for 1, then out for 6. Another important information to know is to prioritize breathing through your nose. When you take in oxygen through your mouth, you are mimicking a fight & flight breathing pattern, one that we usually adopt when we are stressed out.
So try keeping your mouth closed when doing your breathing routines and see how your lungs will expand when you do that.
Getting more oxygen into your body and releasing physical tension are two ways that breathing exercises can benefit you in calming down. You can do them anytime or anywhere, even if your demanding situation isn’t letting up.
Reframe Your Situation
When you can look at your situation differently, you may be able to put it into a different perspective—one that causes you less stress. One easy way to do that is to go back to your most recent memory of a situation associated with change, and recall what it allowed you to achieve afterwards. You will automatically remember that change is not associated with a bad result. It is a facilitator of progress.
Completely relax your muscles
Utter relaxation is another technique to be calm. Something you can actually practice. Autogenic training is when you sit or lie in a comfortable position and let your muscles go completely limp. When you completely relax your body and muscles, you’re sending a message to your brain that there is no threat, recruiting your mind to help you avoid anxiety-related physical symptoms to emerge. You can do it hand in hand with the next technique.
Visualization brings together aspects of mindfulness and breathing techniques to give you another way to calm yourself down and stop anxiety from going out of control. This can be as powerful as a tool as you need it to be. It all depends on your belief in the power of your mind. In their healing and empowerment journey, I focus on teaching my clients how to use their mind to achieve whatever it is they need.
The basis of this lies on the teachings of the new therapy modality, Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT). It supports the idea that our mind holds the key to all our healing. And that whatever we focus on, we get more of. In that sense, the words we tell ourselves and the pictures we create in our mind (like that of a peaceful setting) will immediately impact us physiologically. And release feel-good hormones that will counteract the anxiety you may be feeling.
Find a distraction
Anxiety tends to start a difficult looping thought, as each negative thought brings about another. And serves as fuel for harmful emotions. You may find that resorting to a distraction can help move your focus away, even for a short time period, allowing your brain to reset. A distraction can be as simple as playing with your dog or rolling the windows down, taking a short drive in your car and thinking about things you love. Anything but allowing yourself to sink into the anxiety feelings will do. The faster you train yourself to switch to a go-to activity, the quicker you’ll break the looping thought before it takes full control.
Share your feelings
The saying goes that a problem shared is a problem halved. You might be surprised how effective opening up to one of your friends or relatives about your feelings can be. They can offer you some valuable perspective. Connection is well known to boost our sense of safety. And is a great antidote for the anxiety associated with depression.
Everything seems worse when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep. Stress and anxiety can often lead to insomnia so you end up stuck in a vicious cycle. Not being able to sleep and then feeling worse because you haven’t had enough sleep.
Sleep should be a priority to calm. It not only restores your energy but allows your nervous system to rest and wake up rejuvenated.
Exercise is just as important as sleep when it comes to keeping stress in check and dealing with external pressures. Exercise prompts the body to release feel-good hormones and helps clear your head.
If you’re under pressure at work, or with your family, just five minutes of fresh air and a change of scenery could help you feel calmer and gain a new perspective on the situation. You’ll probably realize it’s not a case of life or death anyway.
Studies have shown that people who keep a daily gratitude journal have lower levels of cortisol – the hormone responsible for stress. Before you sleep, try taking a few minutes to write down things you feel thankful for and see how much better it makes you feel.
Retrain Your Brain for a Calmer Life
If you’ve tried one or a combination of the above tips and still find yourself struggling to keep anxiety in check, reach out to a psychiatrist or therapist in your area. If you can’t find the time to fit a visit into your busy schedule, or if privacy is a concern, you can always choose the virtual or online therapy option and reach out to Dr. Carla. She will help you through what can be a debilitating challenge in your life.