We all experience stressful situations at some point in our lives. It’s a natural response to challenging situations.
But did you know that even a few minutes of deep breathing or mindfulness meditation can lower your stress levels and bring a sense of calm to your mind and body?
In fact, a research team at Yale University found that specific breathing and meditation exercises induced calm and resilience. The good news is that this is just one of many effective ways to calm yourself down and find inner peace.
And the best part?
These strategies don’t have to be complicated or time-consuming.
If you’re wondering how to calm down, we’re about to discuss 6 simple and effective techniques to reduce anxiety and find a sense of balance in your life.
What Does “Calm Down” Mean?
Has anyone ever told you to “calm down” when you were feeling stressed?
While you can’t always control the external factors causing stress and anxiety, you can control your response to them. Calming down is often seen as the first step toward that response. But what does it actually mean to stay calm?
At its core, calming down means bringing your emotional and physical state into a more relaxed and stable state. This can involve slowing down your breathing, releasing muscle tension, and quieting the mind. However, it’s not about suppressing emotions or ignoring stressors. Instead, to calm down means finding a way to manage them in a healthier way.
Here’s how it works:
When we’re anxious, our body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated, causing physiological changes such as increased heart rate and blood pressure. As a result, the body releases hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones prepare the body for the “fight or flight” response, which can be useful in certain situations but can also be harmful if activated too frequently.
On the other hand, when we engage in activities that promote relaxation, such as deep breathing or meditation, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated. As a result, we experience a decrease in heart rate and lower blood pressure, as well as a reduction in stress hormone levels.
That’s essentially what “calming down” means physiologically – to activate the parasympathetic system and bring our body back to a more balanced state. It’s a way to counteract the negative effects of chronic stress and promote overall well-being.
Effective Ways to Calm Down 2024
It may sound a bit trivial, but taking deep breaths is actually a powerful tool for calming down. When we feel anxious or stressed, our breathing tends to become shallow and rapid, which can further exacerbate those feelings. However, taking a few deep breaths can counteract that physiological response and send a message to our brain that it’s time to relax.
For example, a 2017 study conducted by researchers from the University of Catania shows that breathing techniques can help reduce stress levels. In addition, breathing exercises in the study also had a positive effect on mood.
How to practice these deep breathing exercises?
Sit comfortably and breathe deeply. Inhale fresh air slowly through your nose, filling your belly with air. Then breathe out gradually through your mouth, making sure to release all the air from your lungs. Repeat this for several minutes, focusing on your deep breaths and allowing your body to relax.
Release the Anxiety or Anger
Have you ever felt so anxious or angry that you thought you were going to explode?
It’s a feeling that can be overwhelming and consuming, making it difficult to focus on anything else. The best strategy to release your negative emotions and combat stress in moments when you feel angry is to pause and take a step back.
This can involve physical activity, such as exercise, or venting to a trusted friend or therapist.
Additionally, some people find that using CBD oil can help relieve stress and anxiety. While research on the effectiveness of CBD oil is still ongoing, cannabidiol is still considered a potential treatment for generalized anxiety disorder and other types of anxiety.
Change Your Focus
Did you know that changing your focus can promote relaxation? When you’re feeling anxious or angry, your mind tends to fixate on the source of your stress, which can make the situation feel even more intense. However, shifting your focus to something else, even for just a few moments, can help break that cycle and give your mind a chance to reset.
Some effective ways to change your focus include:
Engaging in these activities can help you feel fully present in the moment and allow you to take a break from the stresses of daily life. In fact, these techniques can not only alleviate stress in the moment but also help you understand how to improve focus in the long term.
When we experience stress, our bodies tend to tense up, leading to a range of physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and muscle pain.
To counteract these effects, practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation can be helpful. These techniques can help reduce muscle tension, slow down the heart rate, and improve your overall mood. In fact, according to a 2021 study, techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery can effectively improve relaxation states at both psychological and physiological levels.
How to practice relaxing your body when you’re feeling tense?
Start by tensing a specific muscle group, such as your shoulders or fists, for a few seconds before releasing and relaxing the muscles. Repeat with different muscle groups throughout the body. This technique can be practiced regularly to relieve feelings of tension and combat long-term stress.
Get Some Exercise
We all know that engaging in physical activity has numerous benefits for our bodies. However, what many people may not realize is that it can also have a positive impact on mental well-being.
The truth is that exercise has a positive effect on mental health, reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins – chemicals that can help reduce stress, improve mood, and increase feelings of happiness. Additionally, engaging in physical activity can improve cognitive function and boost energy levels.
The best part? It doesn’t have to be anything intense or complicated – even simple activities like jumping jacks or a brisk walk can make a difference in how you feel. So why not give it a try and see how it can release tension and boost your mood?
Challenge Negative Thoughts
Are you aware of the impact that negative thoughts can have on your mental health? Studies have shown that individuals who frequently engage in negative self-talk and rumination are more likely to maintain anxiety and depression in everyday life.
The thing is that irrational beliefs can trigger depression symptoms even in healthy adults as a result of increased inflammation. Unfortunately, this is even linked to an enhanced risk of diabetes. That’s why it’s important to challenge negative beliefs and replace them with more positive and realistic ones.
One way to do this is by practicing positive self-talk, which involves giving yourself positive feedback and focusing on your strengths and accomplishments. This can help you feel heard and valued, boosting your self-esteem and promoting a more positive outlook on life.
How to Calm Yourself Down Fast
When you’re experiencing sudden stress or overwhelm, it’s hard to figure out how to calm down anxiety. Therefore, it’s important to have a few quick and effective strategies that can help you calm down.
Here are some techniques that can help:
- Focus on your senses: Pay attention to your immediate surroundings and notice what you can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. By doing so, you can distract yourself from anxious or stressful thoughts and ground yourself in the present moment.
- Drink some water: Staying hydrated can have a positive effect on your mental health and help you feel more alert and focused. It can also give you something to do with your hands and mouth, which can be a helpful distraction.
- Chew gum: Chewing gum is linked to some positive effects in reducing stress. Similar to drinking water, it can give you something to do with your mouth and provide a physical distraction from stress or anxiety.
- Listen to calming music: Music has a powerful effect on our emotions and can be a helpful tool for managing stress and anxiety. Listening to calming music slows down your heart rate and promotes relaxation.
- Write it down: Journaling or writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you process your emotions and gain a better understanding of what’s causing your stress or anxiety. It’s also a helpful way to release pent-up feelings and gain a sense of clarity.
- Talk to a family member or friend: Social support is an important factor in maintaining good emotional health. Talking to a trusted friend or family member in times of anxiety helps calm down and allows you to gain perspective on the situation.
- Take deep breaths and count to 10: Deep breathing is a simple yet effective way to calm the body and mind. Take deep, slow breaths and count to 10 to slow down your heart rate and promote relaxation.
Signs of the Body’s Stress Response
In stressful situations, our bodies often experience physiological and physical changes as a response to stress. These changes are a result of our sympathetic system, which is responsible for our “fight or flight” response.
Here are some common signs of our body’s stress response:
- Increased heart rate
- Shallow breathing or hyperventilating
- Sweating or feeling hot
- Tight muscles or muscle tension
- Upset stomach or digestive issues
- Headaches or migraines
- Chest pains
- High blood pressure
- Fatigue or feeling exhausted
- Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
- Changes in weight (weight loss or weight gain)
- Itchy skin
- Changes to the menstrual cycle
When Should You Seek Help?
Anxiety is a natural response to external stressors, but it can become harmful if it becomes chronic and begins to interfere with your daily life. If you’re experiencing any of the following signs, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional:
- Your anxiety is interfering with your daily activities and responsibilities, such as work or school.
- You have noticed changes in your sleep patterns, appetite, or weight.
- You experience physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, or gastrointestinal issues.
- You are having difficulty focusing or experiencing cognitive symptoms like racing thoughts or difficulty making decisions.
- Your anxiety is affecting your relationships with family, friends, or coworkers.
- You’re turning to substances like drugs or alcohol to cope with your anxiety.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out for support – seeking help is a sign of strength, and there are effective treatments available for anxiety and other mental health conditions.
Sudden bursts of anxiety can be overwhelming. It’s natural to find yourself unable to calm yourself down in stressful moments. However, it’s important to remember that there are many strategies and techniques available to help manage anxiety and reduce its impact on your daily life.
Failing to take care of your mental health can have serious consequences for your overall well-being. Don’t let stress and anxiety take over your life. Learn how to calm down and take control of your mental health by incorporating these techniques into your daily routine.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, some foods and drinks can have a calming effect on the body. For example, studies show that consuming chamomile extract for 8 weeks can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Green tea, dark chocolate, fatty fish, and foods high in magnesium can also calm you down. However, these foods shouldn’t replace other stress management techniques.
If your anxiety is mild to moderate, it is possible to calm down without medication or professional help. In fact, many people successfully manage their anxiety through various self-help strategies, such as mindfulness, breathing techniques, or regular exercise. However, if your symptoms are severe, it’s recommended to seek professional help.
Take slow, deep breaths to regulate your breathing and focus on the present moment. Remove yourself from the stressful situation and find a quiet space to calm down. Remember that seeking support from loved ones or a mental health professional is also an important step in managing panic attacks.
On average, the fight or flight response, which is activated during moments of stress or anger, takes about 20 minutes to complete. Therefore, you need at least a 20-minute break from the stressful situation to allow your body to physiologically calm down. However, this varies from person to person and depends on the situation that caused the anger.