It happens to all of us, the ever-exciting emotional/mental breakdown. Blugh. They come in tall, grande & venti and never at ”a good time”. Whilst I might be hurdling up in tears, someone else rages with anger. They’re predictably unpredictable (yes that doesn’t make sense, just like those outbreaks..) Whether you’re currently feeling not too good, or need some ideas on what to do when feeling drained and unhappy… This post, with ways to calm down, is one you’ll want to save. Promised!
The secret behind these ways to calm down
In all the methods below there is one very big overarching concept. And that is the concept of shifting. Often, when we find ourselves drowning in an unpleasant emotion, chances are likely we’ve lost some form grip. Just like when one foot hurts, we shift to the other to release tension and give it space to heal. Mentally and emotionally we can also shift, master this and you’ve mastered the secret of owning yourself.
1 Ways to Calm Down | Embrace The Disbalance
Rather than trying to flee your current state, lovingly embrace it. Shift inwards.
I’m a very sensitive person, and frankly, I get emotional/overwhelmed very quickly. It’s fantastic as I experience bliss often. But it can be pretty turbulent too as I’m easily affected and disturbed by things I pick up. Whenever a kind soul would say that it was ok for me to cry it wouldn’t take long before I felt ok again.
A startling revelation really! And one of my go-to ways to calm down.
By diving deep into the emotion straight away you are allowing yourself to go through whatever affected you. Your system needs the release (whether you like it or not) and by actually giving it some time and space to express itself it will (surprisingly) dissolve sooner than later.
For example, when I feel disturbed and am experiencing some negative feelings I close my eyes and visualize me surrendering to the emotion. I visualize the ”disturbance” as a big soft cloud and then I imagine myself surrendering to it like gently falling into a huge sized bean bag. Repeating to myself ”it’s ok to feel this way” helps, and foremost, calms me down.
2 Ways to Calm Down | Activate Your Senses
Another great way to calm down. Activate your senses by shifting your awareness.
Allow yourself to pause and reconnect with the current moment. Observe where you are and answer these simple questions objectively by tuning in with your current state of being.
- Name three things you see.
- Register three different things you can hear.
- Can you taste something in your mouth?
- What is your skin sensing? Feel the clothes on your body. Register your general body temperature.
- Do you smell anything distinctive?
By re-tuning into the moment and focusing for a brief moment on senses other than the emotion that is dominating can help create a distance between you and what is causing disbalance.
3 Ways to Calm Down | Square Breathing and/or a Mindful Sigh
Closing your eyes and taking a couple of conscious deep breaths is never a bad idea. It’s an instant calm maker and it can relieve a lot of tension within a couple of seconds. Sending oxygen towards your discomfort is a loving gesture that is always welcomed!
A great breathing technique that is known for its stress-relieving character is the square breathing technique. Also called box-breathing or four-square breathing can be practiced by deeply inhaling for 4 counts – holding the breath for 4 counts – exhaling in 4 counts – holding the breath for 4 counts. Repeat a couple of times and then return to a normal breathing pattern.
Mindful sighing is tapping into the natural stress-relief mechanisms of our body. Many doctors even describe a proper sigh the same as pressing our ”reset” button. Inhale deeply through your mouth and exhaling fully (and loudly) to instantly release some stress. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
4 Ways to Calm Down | Change Your Posture | 4 simple ideas
Like I already mentioned in the introduction of this post, the secret behind many of these ways to calm down lies within making a shift. Changing your posture might just do the trick.
Often, when we’re feeling down, we tend to hunch over, looking towards the floor and we ”close off” our bodies completely. By consciously and deliberately changing your posture you can awaken a different, more positive, sensation that resides in that different posture balancing out the way you feel.
- Standing up straight, broadening the shoulders, lifting your chin and looking at the sky (or into the eyes of someone you love) truly does wonders to how we feel.
- Do a couple of stretches. One I specifically like, is a pectoral stretch, focusing on opening your diaphragm. How? Stand in a door opening, rest your forearms and elbows on the open door frame (your upper body looks as if it surrendering to someone with a gun lol). Then, gently stretch by stepping towards the front and holding the position for 3/5 seconds. Feel how it releases tension.
- Lay down on a soft surface, close your eyes and intensely tense all the muscles in your body. Squeeze the buttocks, make fists, tense the thighs, abs… all of it. Then let go and focus on the feeling of relaxation.
- Put on some music and dance to your favorite songs! If you are in private space really allow yourself to completely let go, transforming the discomfort into movements that are being released in space. It will boost your mood and shift your focus point.
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5 Ways to Calm Down | Shift Your Environment
Often when people feel distressed they ”walk away”, and then they return after a while cooled down. Changing the environment is a relatively simple act one can do to change their mood.
As an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) I can get overwhelmed in crowdy areas. If that happens, and I have the opportunity to sneak into an enclosed quiet area, I do so and will feel better soon after.
If you’re in a heated conversation with someone and you can’t think and/or act rationally anymore. Maybe the best thing you can do is to just go outside for a bit. Take a couple of deep breaths, shake it off, walk around the block and chances are you’ll be able to finish the discussion on a more calm note. Or at least you might be able to see things clearer, which is always great right?
During a creative process, it occurs to many of us that we reach a point of ”uninspired”. Switching things up environmentally might be the trick to calm down negative thoughts and open you up towards new bursts of creativity. It’s not uncommon to hear musicians that go to a cabin in the woods to write their compositions or bloggers that enjoy writing in a coffee shop #justsaying.
6 Ways to Calm Down | Get Creative
When distressed we’re obviously over-focusing on something disturbing. So disturbing that it’s affecting your mood negatively… And frankly, you don’t deserve that. No-one does.
All the above suggestions focus one way or another on shifting that negative, dispiriting focus onto something else. Like your breath, your posture, your environment or even just observing what your senses are capable of picking up.
Number 6 on this list is yet another way to shift that attention to something else, in order to calm you down so you can handle whatever’s going on with a more settled down mind.
A great part of the stress you’re experiencing is because you don’t know how to express your discomfort. And therefore beautiful unicorns, we have art. Using your creativity as an outlet can truly work wonders. No-one needs to ‘understand’ it, this is for you.
You can dance or just listen to some soothing music. Make music yourself, or start doodling on a piece of paper. Coloring alone has proven to be of great benefit to calm down the mind. I’m sure you’ve heard of adult coloring books… haven’t you?
7 Ways to Calm Down | Body Scan
Tuning inwards. If, for whatever reason, you feel too uncomfortable to connect with something external (like going for a walk) doing a body scan might very well work for you. It’s one of those ways to calm that really works like a charm, as long as you truly commit to it!
Body scans help to tune in with your body as it is, you become aware of tension spots (forehead, jaw, back… to mention a few) and with some dedicated focus you can direct your body to relax and let go of tension in specific areas.
Many people do body scan’s as a part of their evening routine to fall asleep faster because it’s relaxing and calms them down so well. So why not give it a shot?
You can find many guided body scan meditations on YouTube or on popular meditation apps, such as Insight Timer.
8 Or Try Some of These Other Calming Tricks
Body scan might sound lovely, but you can’t just lay down on your desk at work now can you?
In that case, here a couple of other suggestions you should be able to do anywhere:
- Give yourself a (mindful) hand massage. Pressing with the thumb of one hand in the palm of the other hand. And then firmly (but with care) squeezing each finger separately. Don’t forget to do both hands!
- Coldwater compress. When feeling overwhelmed by an emotion splashing yourself with some cold water cools down and with that calms the system pretty well. If you can’t splash your face (make-up), run your wrists under the cold water for a couple of seconds and see if you can get a wet piece of cloth and lay that in your neck to cool down.
- Take a (cold) shower. Wash away the worries and stress. Relief guaranteed.
- Apply acupressure. No needles involved! Gently use the thumb and forefinger to massage the soft area between the thumb and index finger of the other hand or rub against you temples for some instant relief.
- Talk with or ask a hug from someone you love. Sometimes a hug is all you need, your friend won’t say no. A small talk, even if it’s just ”venting” can be helpful too, feel what you need.
These 8 points contain a bunch of loving suggestions of ways to calm down. What’s your go-to method to calm down, to shift to a more a serene self? We would love to hear, feel free to share it in the comments below 🙂