How to Calm Yourself Down

Do you often get stressed and feel emotionally out of control? Do you find yourself spiraling down and have trouble pulling yourself out of this spiral? Here are three stress management techniques to help you when you are feeling overwhelmed.

One of the most effective techniques to calming yourself down is deep breathing.  Breathe in through your nose to the count of three. Count to three and then slowly exhale through your mouth like you’re blowing on something hot to cool it, again to the count of three. Continue with a few more deep breaths. If you begin to feel light-headed, pause and slow down your breathing.

Why does deep breathing help? Taking deep, cleansing breaths lowers blood pressure, pulse, and respiration rates. Additionally, it helps promote the release of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter, into the bloodstream. Many benefits for something that takes hardly a minute!

Another effective technique to calming yourself down is thought-stopping and thought-substituting. Your thoughts generate your emotions. If your thoughts are generating extremely unpleasant emotions that are taking control of you, you need to stop those thoughts. Arguing with yourself about how you are feeling and how you think you should be feeling very rarely works. Your mind is a master debater and can out-argue you nearly every time! The better course of action is to deliberately stop your thoughts. Once you start becoming upset, yell to yourself internally (unless you’re alone and can yell out loud), “Stop it!” or “Go away!” or “Next!” or even “Happy, happy, happy!” For some people, singing a song can stop those thoughts.

When you have shut down those negative thoughts, substitute a train of thought that is more pleasant for you. You may want to think about your favorite place, someone you love, music that you enjoy, or something that you find funny. The mind cannot hold two thoughts at the same time, so replace the negative chatter with something more positive. Crowd out those negative thoughts and notice that you begin to feel calmer.

A final technique for calming yourself down is to get support and share what you’re going through. Talk to a friend who will let you vent. If a friend is not available, then be a friend to yourself. Give yourself the support that a friend would give you. Talk positively to yourself and give yourself comforting and encouraging messages, such as “This is hard but you’re doing great!” or “You’ve done this before and you can do it again!”

The next time you feel overwhelmed, remember to breathe deeply; use thought-stopping and thought-substituting; and get support from others and yourself. Once you feel calmer, you will be in a better position to deal with whatever caused you to feel stressed in the first place.

A final note – these techniques are not just for instant stress relief.  Practice these stress management techniques in your daily life as well, and watch your overall stress level decrease!

 

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