Those who suffer from anxiety know too easily how stressful external stimuli can trigger intense emotions like anger, panic attacks, and overall dread. These highly sensitive people can feel a spike in their adrenaline from these attacks and might find it difficult to return to a normal, calm state.
The ramifications of a heightened, constant state of stress are troubling, not just to your mental health but to your physical well-being.
The consequences of this state of being show up as increased blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease, unhealthy weight gain, sleeplessness, and a weakened immune system.
You may face many triggers in your life that rile you up, but the important thing to remember is that you are also well-equipped to calm yourself down.
Here are the simplest ways to calm down quickly:
As simple as it sounds, a deep breath can help you reset your stress reaction and activate the relaxation response. When you’re stressed, you tend to take quicker, shallower breaths which prevent your body from getting the oxygen you need for optimal functioning.
Sometimes, you just need to remember to pause and take a deep breath to combat stress and anxiety so you can get back to a calmer state of being.
Two particularly efficient breathing techniques are the Box Breathing Technique and Diaphragmatic Breathing.
Box Breathing Technique
The box breathing technique is also known as the four-square technique because it uses a four-second count to guide your breath.
Start by straightening up in your chair and firmly planting your feet on the floor. Breathe in and out normally for a moment. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose slowly for a count of four. Then hold your breath for four seconds. The goal is to let the air sit in your lungs. On your exhale, open your mouth slightly and let your breath out for a count of four. Notice your stomach deflate.
Repeat this breathing pattern two or three times or until you’re feeling relaxed.
Diaphragmatic breathing is a great technique that not only helps you calm down but can also help you learn how to breathe properly overall. It’s a great entry point into the practice of deep breathing.
It’s incredibly simple too — the main goal is to notice the movement of your diaphragm as you breathe in and out.
You can do this by placing your hand on your stomach, under your ribs but above your belly button. You can imagine your diaphragm is a balloon.
On your inhale, gently push out your hand with your stomach. Inhale through your nose. On your exhale, gently push down your stomach with your hand and feel your stomach deflate. Breathe out slowly.
Repeat until you feel your breathing rate is at a good, slow flow.
Just like a cat who’s been sitting too long, a good, deep stretch can help release tension while decreasing your stress levels. Sometimes, you just need to connect with your own body to calm yourself. When you become stressed or anxious, your body is trying to prepare you for the fight ahead. Your muscles tense and blood flow increases to provide them with more oxygen.
Using the two-way connection between mind and body, you can stretch out tension, reconnect with how your body feels, and inversely convince your mind to calm down quickly.
You can do simple yoga moves like child’s pose. Or you can get up and arch your arms over your left and right side — this will stretch out your sides and your arms. Anything that could help you stretch out your torso or back is a great place to start. Make sure to stretch gently and only do moves within your range.
3. Listen to Music
Most of the times we listen to music, we’re listening to our favorite songs or using it to fill out the silence. But on a deeper level, most of us probably enjoy listening to music because it helps us regulate our emotions. Think about your favorite song and how it can bring out certain feelings in you. Depending on the music and your attachment to it, you have the ability to switch up moods.
So the next time you’re feeling anxious, put on some music. Take a few calming breaths and let your mind focus on the sounds. If you need a suggestion for a new favorite relaxation song, try these scientifically proven calming songs.
4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation, similar to stretching, is utilizing the two-way connection between mind and body. This exercises asks you to focus your energy on tensing different muscle groups for 10 seconds at a time and then actively releasing the tension.
There are different ways you can practice progressive muscle relaxation. For the simplest and quickest way to calm down, you can practice a mini-exercise.
Find a comfortable position — lying down is preferable but sitting up in a chair will work as well. For the mini-exercise, the focus is on four large muscle groups instead of individualized muscles.
Start with deep breathing and try to relax your body. Then actively tense your legs and feet. Keep taking calming breaths and count to 10. On the exhale, release the tension.
Next, you’ll tense your abdomen and chest. Hold the tension in your torso area for 10 seconds. Release the tensions on your exhale.
Now, move the tension up to your arms and hands. It will help if you clench your fists. Count to 10 and release on your exhale.
Finally, you’ll focus on your shoulders, neck, and face. Tensing your face might seem awkward but you can do it by making a puckered face. Hold for 10 seconds and release on your exhale.
Remember to breathe deeply and calmly throughout the exercise.
To try the full progressive muscle relaxation technique or others, read our post on the technique.
5. Hug Yourself
Hugging, according to scientific studies, is an effective tool in stress reduction. So if you want to calm yourself quickly, try hugging yourself for at least 10 seconds. Throw your arms across your torso and give yourself a small squeeze. If it’s high anxiety levels you’re dealing with, a hug can be a good reminder to be aware of yourself in the present moment. Squeeze your back and belly, and bring consciousness to the feeling of your body in the current space.
6. Drink Water
Studies have shown that mild dehydration can impair mood, decrease awareness, and increase fatigue. The next time you feel yourself being overwhelmed, take note of your hydration level. Instead of letting the overwhelming emotions pile up, reach for a glass of water.
7. Activate Pressure Points
Getting a message is a sure-fire way to calm down. But when we need to calm down quickly, that’s not always an option. Luckily, you can take matters into your own hands and find similar pressure points that will help provide a similar feeling of relief in a shorter amount of time.
In fact, the pressure point you can press against is very literally in your hands. Take one of your thumbs and press it around the palm of your opposite hand. Push down gently and rub it against the area for at least 10 seconds. Release and repeat as necessary.
Another simple pressure point that’s easy to access is the inside of your wrist. Press your thumb against the area at the top of your wrist, just before your hand. Push down gently for two minutes to relieve tension.
8. Take a Walk
When we find ourselves in a stressful situation, sometimes the best thing we can do to calm down quickly is to leave the situation for a moment. A great way to give yourself space from the situation while getting up and using your muscles is to take a walk. Walking regularly is beneficial not only to your overall health but also gives you time to clear your head. Focus on the walk and your change of environment. Practicing mindful walking will help lower anxiety levels as you shift your focus from the worries in your head to what’s happening in the moment.
9. Close Your Eyes
The last technique to help you relieve stress and calm down is so simple we might do it already without thinking. Sometimes the best solution for being overwhelmed is to take a much-needed break from all the stimuli and close your eyes.
Take away one of the biggest receptors of external stimuli that we have and you might be able to find a moment of peace. This is especially true for those moments where you find your stress and anxiety levels increasing because of the time spent in front of a screen.
We suggest spending at least 10 minutes with your eyes closed. Even better if you can do this lying down. You don’t necessarily have to be sleeping. Just lying down with your eyes closed and deep breathing can help provide a momentary relief from an overwhelming situation.
Discover Calm Throughout the Day
The best way to ensure that these techniques help you quickly calm down is by managing your stress levels throughout the day. That way, you’re aware of your mood and anxiety before it becomes too much to handle.
It’s not in our nature to bring that much attention to our stress levels throughout the day, but that’s where the Spire Stone or Health Tag can come in to help. They’ll help track your breath, heart rate, activity, sleep, and more so you can bring more awareness to your everyday health.
When we become aware of our moods, we can approach potentially triggering situations in a smart, effective way. Then it won’t be long before we are back to a calm state where we can make decisions and truly live in the moment.