When we’re navigating social media, complex relationships, and performance pressures, it’s easy for humans to become overwhelmed. And if you struggle with anxiety or another mental health condition, this can be especially hard. When you feel yourself getting worked up, having some de-escalating strategies in your back pocket can help. That’s why today’s blog post covers the 10 best ways to calm yourself down.
Struggling to remain calm? Below are some coping strategies that might help:
Taking deep breaths is one of the best ways to calm yourself down. Scott Dehorty, LCSW-C, of Delphi Behavioral Health says that “breathing is the number one and most effective technique for reducing anger and anxiety quickly.”
When we’re angry, we tend to take quick, shallow breaths. However, this kind of breathing triggers our brains to employ our fight-or-flight response. And when we do this repeatedly, we create a positive feedback loop (which perpetuates the habit). Taking long deep breaths will disrupt that feedback loop, which helps us calm down.
There are many breathing techniques you could try. However, we’re biased toward three-part breathing. To practice, take one deep breath in, then exhale fully while paying attention to your body. Once you get comfortable with this, you can start slowing down your exhales.
Part of being anxious or angry is experiencing irrational thought patterns. While we’re in the throes of a panic attack, our thoughts might revert to “worst-case scenario” situations. And when you get caught in a tangle of “what ifs,” it can be hard to snap yourself out of it.
When you find yourself thinking irrational thoughts, ask yourself challenging questions to help reframe your perspective. Here are some examples:
If possible, try and remove yourself from the stressful situation. You can leave the room, go outside, look in another direction, or close your eyes. Humans don’t activate our best decision-making when we’re anxious or angry. (This is where our survival thinking kicks in). Therefore, switching up your physical experience can help you develop a different thought pattern.
As we mentioned, so much of our ‘angry’ or ‘anxious’ energy is spent on irrational thoughts. Refocusing our energy onto a centering object – such as a necklace you always wear or your shoelaces – can help calm your mind. When entering a potentially stressful situation (like a job interview or important meeting), designate one object to be the focus of your attention. Then, when things get stressful, remember to turn to that object.
Tense muscles are a common physical response to anger or anxiety. Therefore, progressive muscle relaxation techniques can help calm you down during such times. To practice, lie down on the floor with your arms by your sides. (Make sure your hands and feet aren’t crossed). Starting with your feet, slowly signal each of your muscles to release. If you’re unable to lie down, sit up tall and take a deep breath. Drop your shoulders and feel their weight release. Continue until you experience relief.
Receiving acupuncture or getting massages are two fantastic ways of managing anxiety. Therefore, if you find that you’re starting to become overwhelmed, you can acupressure yourself for instant relief. To practice, press your thumb against the crease where the inside of your wrist meets your hand. Doing so releases tension and relaxes your body.
It’s possible to release your emotional energy via exercise (and it doesn’t require a grueling HIIT workout to do so). Going for a walk, running, or practicing yoga all release mood-boosting endorphins that can instantly lift your spirits. Simply choose your favorite.
A lot of people rely on mantras to ground them during difficult situations. Not only do mantras provide something to focus on, but they offer a rational shift in focus. To help “reality test” the situation, practice repeating something like:
We know this might sound silly – but chewing gum can help you chase those anxious feelings. Because chewing gum stimulates blood flow in your brain, certain studies have linked it to reduced anxiety and improved mood. The study also found that gum chewers were more alert and better at multitasking than their non-chewing counterparts.
If your head is a mess of anxious and worried thoughts, putting them to paper can help. Journaling is an incredibly healthy way to process your emotions, so it can significantly reduce feelings of anxiety. If you’re unsure where to begin, check out these 5 Self-Care Journaling Prompts for Mental Health.
We hope that these ways to calm yourself down offer relief in moments of anger or anxiety. If you struggle with overwhelming emotions, we recommend having a few on hand that you can turn to in times of need. You can learn 15 more coping skills for anxiety and stress management.
While it’s normal to become anxious every now and again, experiencing chronic stress and/or overwhelm is a sign that you should speak to a Licensed Professional Counselor. If you’re located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, look no further than Fort Wellness Counseling.
Our experience in anxiety, depression, and substance abuse therapy has named us one of Fort Worth’s Top 3 Therapists for the past two years. If you’d like to see if we’re a good fit for you, schedule an introductory appointment today.
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