When You Need To Calm Down Quickly
Have you ever tried to tell a toddler in the throes of a tantrum to just calm down? Have you ever told this to yourself? Or, worse still, maybe someone has even dared say this to you in a heated moment? Of course, its an easy thing to say but a much harder thing to actually do .
When were in stressful situations, our bodies react accordingly. Our palms start to sweat. Our hearts race. Our blood pressure soars. Those are results of our bodys fight-or-flight reaction being activated. And while that biological response is helpful when it comes to escaping immediate danger or priming us to take down an attacker, its not as useful when the stressful situation at hand is being stuck in traffic.
Luckily, that stress response can be countered by a variety of ways to calm down, including several that we can do whenever and wherever. Theres no one answer as to how to calm someone down, but these are good places to start:
The above exercises are meant to help in moments of crisis, when you want to know how to calm yourself down and need an answer that can help bring a sense of focus and peace back into that present moment.
In the medium term, its a good idea to look at the situations you find yourself in that regularly lead you to feel acute stress. Are there habits of yours, people you interact with, or decisions you make that cause you to feel heightened stress and anxiety? What can you do to change that?
You May Be Having A Panic Attack
Feelings of anxiety are bad enough. So why cant you calm down, even after an initial fight-or-flight response? If symptoms of anxiety disorders continue and manifest into physical symptoms, you may be having a panic attack. Symptoms of a panic attack include:
- Hyperventilating and shortness of breath
- Accelerated heart rate
- Shivering or shaking
- A feeling of doom
If you frequently experience panic attacks, you might have panic disorder, a type of anxiety disorder. People with panic disorder may frequently worry about the next attack and avoid places or situations that may result in these physical symptoms.
What Fuels Our Fear Of Flying
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 6.5 percent of the U.S. population has aviophobia , and roughly 25 percent experience some sort of flying-related anxiety.
Some of the primary reasons some people are afraid to fly are a fear of crashing, a fear of being out of control, a fear of the unknown, a fear of heights, having lost a loved one in a plane crash and feeling claustrophobic, says Ora Nadrich, a certified mindfulness meditation instructor and life coach. Also, some people experience an overall sense of discomfort with the entire flying experience: airport procedures, crowds, turbulence, unappetizing food, cramped space and long flights.
Anxiety is fueled by irrational, worst case scenario thoughts, and confined spaces are breeding grounds for this process.
Unsettling news reports such as United Airlines personnel violently dragging a passenger off a flight, or American Airlines losing the ashes of a passengers daughter can exacerbate flying fears, as well.
Anxiety is fueled by irrational, worst case scenario thoughts, and confined spaces are opportunities for anxious thoughts, explained Dr. Kevin Gilliland, a licensed clinical psychologist and author of Struggle Well, Live Well. He added, Our anxious thoughts can be so powerful that they even activate our physical systems. That means our breathing becomes shallow, our chest gets tight, our palms get sweaty, we feel nauseated and maybe even lightheaded.
Recommended Reading: Is There Over The Counter Medicine For Anxiety
Make Sleep A Priority
How much sleep do you usually get? Getting enough sleep is crucial for physical and mental health.
Like most people, youre probably not getting enough sleep, says Greenwald. Start slowly going to bed earlier, little by little. First maybe ten minutes earlier than you normally do. Then twenty. Then half an hour. Then 45 minutes. Keep going until you find the time that gets you to bed early enough that youre fully rested by the time you get up.
Worrying Yourself Crazy These Tips Will Help You Live With Less Anxiety
Im a naturally anxious person, Ive been that way since I was a kid. I didnt like being separated from my mom, worried if she was late picking me up from somewhere, and stressed out about the monsters under the bed. As an adult, other than my specific fears of heights and tiny cramped spaces, I tend to be more of a run-of-the-mill general worrier.
A few years ago I attended a course at Harvards Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine, and was fascinated by the presentations from leading physicians and neuroscientists. They explained that an anxious disposition can be passed on from an anxious mother to her fetus. Its not just a genetic tendency if a mother is anxious during pregnancy that can directly impact the brain development of the fetus. Some of us are born anxious as a result. For those who have a better start, life can still be full of all kinds of anxiety-provoking events and circumstances. Thankfully, theres great hope for all worrywarts.
The faculty at the Harvard Medical School course demonstrated that deep-rooted tendencies toward anxiety could be physiologically and even anatomically reversed. Relaxation techniques, for example, when practiced regularly, can actually change the architecture of an anxious brain by shrinking the fear-mongering amygdala and strengthening the more rational, calm cortex.
Here are some of my favorite tools for maintaining calm and defusing worries:
Also Check: What The Bible Says About Anxiety
Tip : Talk About Your Worries
It may seem like a simplistic solution, but talking face to face with a trusted friend or family membersomeone who will listen to you without judging, criticizing, or continually being distractedis one of the most effective ways to calm your nervous system and diffuse anxiety. When your worries start spiraling, talking them over can make them seem far less threatening.
Keeping worries to yourself only causes them to build up until they seem overwhelming. But saying them out loud can often help you to make sense of what youre feeling and put things in perspective. If your fears are unwarranted, verbalizing them can expose them for what they areneedless worries. And if your fears are justified, sharing them with someone else can produce solutions that you may not have thought of alone.
Build a strong support system. Human beings are social creatures. Were not meant to live in isolation. But a strong support system doesnt necessarily mean a vast network of friends. Dont underestimate the benefit of a few people you can trust and count on to be there for you. And if you dont feel that you have anyone to confide in, its never too late to build new friendships.
Play The File It Game
The File It technique works particularly well if youre lying awake at night thinking of all the things you have to do or havent done, or if youre rehashing something that happened during the day.
These are the steps for performing this exercise:
The idea with this exercise is that youre taking a moment to name your triggers, examine them, and then consciously put them aside with a deadline to tackle them later. In other words, youre validating your own feelings and making a plan to deal with them, one by one, when its a better time.
Read Also: Does Anxiety Cause Anger Issues
Practice Deep Belly Breathing
You can practice deep breathing between classes, at lunch, or before and after school.
How To Calm Anxiety Tip # 1 Accept It
The first step in calming anxiety is accepting that youre anxious.
Its okay to be anxious anytime, and its especially understandable right now, in the midst of a global pandemic.
Often when people have anxiety, we judge ourselves by thinking things like, I shouldnt be anxious right now, Im overreacting, or even, Why cant I just calm down?
Remember that your anxiety is not a reflection of weakness.
It doesnt mean that youve done something to deserve it.
Anxiety is what it is, and its here right now.
Recommended Reading: How Fast Does Anxiety Meds Work
Heres How To Calm Down Using Belly Breathing:
1. Place one hand on your chest.
2. Place the other hand on your belly.
3. Breathe in through your nose, directing air to your belly as you feel your belly rise. Keep the hand on your chest still, in order to focus your breathing on your belly.
4. Repeat for 10 breaths.
Give it a try right now while you’re reading. You can do belly breathing when sitting, lying down, or standing up in fact, some recommend trying it in different positions throughout the day.
The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. And it’s there for you anytime, anywhere all youre doing is breathing, just differently.
Adopt A Calming Mantra
Loving mantras like I am safe and loved that can be repeated over and over can drown out fears, advises Satya Doyle Byock, MA, LPC, founder of Quarterlife. Pick one that feels reassuring to you like all is well or inhale calm, exhale worry and repeat it to yourself when you start to feel anxious. You can also write it down and hang it somewhere youll see it regularly for a little reminder.
Recommended Reading: Can Anxiety Cause Breathing Problems
Tip : Distinguish Between Solvable And Unsolvable Worries
Research shows that while youre worrying, you temporarily feel less anxious. Running over the problem in your head distracts you from your emotions and makes you feel like youre getting something accomplished. But worrying and problem solving are two very different things.
Problem solving involves evaluating a situation, coming up with concrete steps for dealing with it, and then putting the plan into action. Worrying, on the other hand, rarely leads to solutions. No matter how much time you spend dwelling on worst-case scenarios, youre no more prepared to deal with them should they actually happen.
Think About Something Funny
Visualize your favorite humorous moments, says Sultanoff. One where you laughed so hard you fell down and peed your pants. These can be real situations, or they can be situations you saw on sitcoms, in stories, jokes, or cartoons.
If its difficult for you to come up with something in the moment, try picking a couple of memories ahead of time, so you can go to them as soon as you start experiencing anxiety.
Like most mindfulness training, humor visualization takes you out of worrying about things that might happen in the future and focuses you back in your present circumstances, in the now.
It does a few other things too. You experience mirth, which is the uplifting reaction to humor, explains Sultanoff. You feel emotions such as joy, pleasure, or delight all powerful emotions that can help you reduce anxiety quickly.
And if youre able to make yourself laugh by remembering that funny moment, he says, humor visualization is even more effective.
When you laugh, you contract and expand muscles, which reduces physical anxiety, stress, and tension, he says.
Laughter also combats the production of cortisol levels in the body, he adds.
Read Also: How To Know If You Have Stress Or Anxiety
Get Your Sugar Levels Back Up
Ever notice how on edge you are when youre hungry? For that matter, ever notice how other people get when they are hungry? They cant make a decision and get snappy. They often just stare off into the distance. The body needs regular amounts of fuel, like every 2-3 hours.
Pack snacks and you will notice, just like I did, that your anxiety will subside. Its a pretty cool trick actually, and youll be able to help other people manage their anxiety once you get yours under control.
Through Deep Breathing We Become Alchemists And That Is Really What We Arewim Hof The Ice Man
If youre not focused on how to calm your body through slow, intentional belly-breathing, youre really missing out. Belly-breathing is free, you can do it anywhere and its easy! When you implement belly breathing, you start the day in a here-and-now state. Better yet, youre not wasting time worrying about the future or reliving the past.
Heres how to get started:
Fact Check Your Thoughts
People with anxiety often fixate on worst-case scenarios. To combat these worries, think about how realistic they are. Say youre nervous about a big presentation at work. Rather than think, Im going to bomb, for example, say, Im nervous, but Im prepared. Some things will go well, and some may not. Getting into a pattern of rethinking your fears helps train your brain to come up with a rational way to deal with your anxious thoughts.
Take A Noticing Nature Walk
Take a five-minute walk outside without your phone.
During this walk, look around and notice the tiniest leaf, the smallest insect, the subtlest cloud in the sky. Tuning into nature in a deep and all-encompassing way will naturally relax your body and give that churning mind a much-needed break, Trueblood states.
Read Also: What To Do If You Have Bad Anxiety
Why Do I Have Social Anxiety
If you have a lot of social anxiety in the moment, you might also be wondering why you have social anxiety in the first place.
The truth is that its probably a combination of a few different things.
We know that some people are genetically predisposed to having anxiety disorders like social anxiety disorder. This is because these types of illnesses do tend to run in the family.
But at the same time, your life experiences can also contribute to whether you develop social or performance anxiety.
Just like a bad experience with a dog as a child might make you afraid of dogs , a bad social or performance experience could sensitize you to having anxiety in those situations.
If you want to understand better the causes of your social anxiety, I go over all of this in my Social Anxiety Masterclass. I also talk about a variety of coping strategies that you can use to feel better.