You live in a world where time is of the essence, deadlines are never ending, and the work day never really seems to stop. How can you keep your cool when you are constantly putting out fires? Luckily, there are ways that even the busiest person can find moments of peace throughout a hectic day. Give your body (and mind) a rest, and use these tricks to help stay calm all day long.
Identify (and Feel) Your Feelings
When you start to get a little heated, notice your temperature rising. You may note that you are overreacting to a relatively small situation or having irrational reactions to a particular event. Often these feelings can be triggered by specific stimuli and may not even have anything to do with what is happening in the moment.
Forgive yourself in these moments. Feeling anxious or angry is human and natural, and you should allow yourself the grace to feel it and express it in a way that is not destructive. After all, bottling up those feelings will only cause them to force themselves out later. It is advisable to label your feelings, which will take some of the power and punch out of them and help you get an outside perspective on your thoughts.
You can think through your irrational thoughts and your anxious feelings by asking yourself a series of analytical questions, such as:
- Is what I am thinking rational? Does it make sense?
- Am I overreacting to an imagined scenario?
- Can I recognize a trigger that caused these feelings?
- What is the worst case scenario here, and what is actually likely to happen?
Asking yourself questions like this will distance yourself from your feelings in order to observe them from a more objective vantage point.
Take Action Against Angst
Once you think through the situation at hand, you can change your thinking about it and choose a more positive, healthy response. There are several actions you can take to bring on the calm.
Get Moving and Get Happy
For instance, you may decide to release that negative energy through physical activity. Getting your body in motion causes it to release serotonin, which in turn will have a calming, happy effect upon your mood.
Take a Deep Breath…or Three
Another way to combat feelings of anger is through use of mindful breathing techniques. Because of our natural fight-or-flight instincts that kick in during moments of extreme negative emotion, you will notice that your breath becomes extremely short and rapid during these times. Deliberately taking deep, slow breaths will help you to calm down and restore your system to normalcy.
Here are two examples of breathing techniques that are commonly used to help relieve stress:
- Three part breathing: take in one long breath on three counts, hold for three, then release for three counts, hold for three. Repeat this series.
- Variable ratio breathing: choosing long counts, bring specific attention to your breath by deliberately inhaling then exhaling at different rates (for example, breath in for a count of four, then breath out for a count of five), then try mixing up the rates
There are all sorts of breathing techniques to alleviate anxiety. Do some research, practice, and find the ones that work best for you.
Max Your Relaxation
Once you have mastered some breathing techniques, use them in combination with other tools to maximize their calming effect. While breathing intentionally, close your eyes and find a moment of quiet. In this moment, envision yourself in a state of calmness. Take note of the muscles in your body that are clenched and tightened up, then make the active choice to release them. Clench and release the muscles several times to fully release them gradually, bit by bit. You can practice this while standing, but it is even better to do it while sitting or, the best alternative, lying down.
Food for thoughtfulness
Do a check in with yourself. Are you feeling thirsty? When was the last time you had something to eat? Dehydration and hunger are a major roadblock on your path to peace. Drink some water and have a snack to stave off hunger and thirst pangs; you will notice your mood improve dramatically.
Additionally, there are super foods and drinks with calming properties that you can keep on hand to quell your rage, many of which are to be commonly found in your kitchen. Believe it or not, apple cider vinegar has wonderful calming and restorative properties, along with a whole host of other health benefits. You would be amazed at the plethora of foods and beverages that can help calm you down. Make a list and stock up at the store.
Tune in Music, Tune out Anger
Put together a calming playlist for yourself of soothing music that you know will help to chill you out. iTunes, Spotify, and other streaming services also have many relaxation stations prepped and ready to go whenever you need them.
Find Your Center Outside of Yourself
If you are too worked up to calm yourself down, it is helpful to have an outside object to help you center and ground yourself. This could be virtually anything that holds a calming effect for you: a small personal item, a stress ball, or a fidget spinner.
You could even opt to wear clothing that promotes relaxation by donning duds like Comrad compression socks which activate pressure points on your legs, stimulating circulation and thereby helping to relieve stress.
Speaking of pressure points, you can also use your own body’s built-in stress relief system. Apply pressure to key areas of your body, such as the inside of your wrist or your temples, with your finger tips. This will naturally alleviate tension.
Note to Self
Another way to distance yourself from your stress and make it seem less overwhelming is to keep a journal of your feelings throughout the day. When you notice a major spike in emotions, take a few minutes to catalog it: how you felt, what you think caused it, how you worked through it, and how you felt afterwards. Not only will this pull the focus away from feeling trapped in that anxiety, but it can also be a helpful reference tool for future moments of high tension.
Make a Small Change
Actively making a deliberate, small change in the moment can make a big difference and help you to feel more in control. Step away from the situation and go outside to grab a breath of fresh air. Or make the air around you even more calming by infusing a humidifier or other device with lavender oil (you can also rub some on your pressure points for extra calming powers).
If it is a specific task that is really getting you riled up, put it aside for the moment and work on something else. Though a time sensitive task may seem pressing, you will not do your best work if you are too anxious to properly give it your attention, and it will end up taking you more time to complete in the long run.
It Takes Time
Suffering from bouts of anxiety or anger is natural and happens to everyone at some point. The biggest gift you can give yourself is that of forgiveness and practicing strategies and tools to get yourself back to a state of calm. Over time, you will even find that you are less prone to attacks of stress when you know that you have the tools to handle it at the ready.