Calming Strategies to Help You Relax
We all have moments when we feel more anxious, stressed, and worried than usual. When these negative thoughts enter your brain, it’s easy to give in and let them take over. But it’s up to you to keep them from spiraling out of control. You can do that by using some helpful techniques.
Here are 18 tricks to finding calmness right now.
1. Breathe deeply
Slow, deep breathing is one of the best ways to calm yourself when feeling anxious, depressed, or angry. Research has shown that this technique can lead to comfort and relaxation, make you feel more alert, and reduce symptoms of these conditions.
There are different deep breathing techniques that you can try. One popular option is box breathing, also called four-square breathing. Here’s how to do it:
- Sit in a comfortable position in a quiet space.
- Slowly exhale.
- Slowly inhale while counting to four.
- Hold your breath for a slow count of four.
- Slowly exhale for a count of four.
- Hold your breath for four counts before repeating.
2. Use logic to challenge your fears
You often start to feel intense anxiety and stress because of irrational thoughts. You might mean that you focus on the worst possible outcome or worry about many different things going wrong.
When you are feeling anxious, try to talk yourself out of it. Use logic to challenge your anxiety. Ask yourself questions like these:
- What’s the evidence that this is true?
- What’s the probability that what I’m worried about will happen? What’s the likelihood that it won’t happen?
- How will worrying about this help me?
- How would I handle the worst thing that could happen?
- What would I say to a friend worrying about this right now?
Once you answer these questions, you can start to think more positively. It will help you feel better and eliminate any negative feelings.
3. Move your body
Exercise is a great way to relax and clear your mind. You don’t need to do a challenging workout to get those benefits. Even just taking a walk or doing some yoga can help.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins. These make you feel good and help protect you from developing some mental health conditions. Exercise also reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Regular exercise can help reduce anxiety over time, but sometimes you need a quick mood boost. Going outside for a walk or running on the treadmill can help you feel better in the moment.
4. Chew gum
Chewing gum can help reduce anxiety. A small study from 2009 showed that people who chewed gum had better moods and felt less anxious. It is because chewing gum helps increase blood flow in your brain. The effects can be felt right away and last for a while.
The people who chewed gum also felt more awake and did better at multitasking than those who didn’t chew gum. Who knew that a tiny stick of gum could have so much power?
5. Take a bath
If you have a bathtub home, fill it with hot water and get in for a soak. Research suggests that people who bathe in hot water for 10 minutes each day have better mental and emotional health.
Warm water can help ease any sore and aching muscles. It also feels good, even if you have no sore muscles. It can help relieve anxiety and make you feel physically and emotionally calmer.
According to a 2010 study, taking baths can help you sleep better. It might make you feel calmer in the long term.
6. Go Outside
Research from 2002 suggests that getting sun can help release serotonin in your brain, improving your mood and leaving you feeling more at peace. Just make sure to put on sunscreen before going outside!
According to a 2020 research review, spending just 10 minutes outside can improve your mood, focus, blood pressure, and heart rate. Even if it’s cloudy, being surrounded by nature is still soothing.
7. Write it out
When you write down your anxious and worried thoughts, it can make you feel better. Journaling helps you healthily process emotions and figure out what you’re concerned about. That can help reduce anxiety levels.
In a study from 2009, college students who wrote about their emotions and opinions had less depression, anxiety, and stress after two months than students who only wrote without emotion.
8.Sit up straight
When you are sitting, think about how you are sitting. You might be slouching. You will feel more centered if you drop your shoulders and sit up straight.
A study from 2009 found that students are more likely to feel good about themselves when sitting upright. Sitting straight can give you more confidence, make you feel more energetic, and help relieve depression.
Sitting up straight and tall can help you take deep breaths, which will make you calmer. Dropping your shoulders will relax your muscles, which can help you feel better.
9. Listen to Music
A study from 2013 found that listening to music before a stressful situation can help you relax once the problem is over. It means you can control your stress and anxiety levels, even in challenging situations.
Soothing music or sounds (like classical music or crashing waves) can help keep your cortisol levels down and relax your mind. If you’re looking for instant relief, listening to something soothing might be the answer.
10. Think about what you’re thankful for
When you feel anxious or depressed, it can help you focus on what you’re grateful for. Research suggests that the best way to do this is to write a list of things you’re thankful for and then read it back to yourself.
It helps you focus on the good things in your life instead of the bad. It will push away the wrong things and help you calm down.
11. Close your eyes
When we feel anxious, our pupils get more extensive, and our faces tense up. You will feel better if you close your eyes and relax your facial muscles. It is a simple exercise that can help you calm down.
12. Play with your pet
There is a scientific reason why therapy animals are common. A study from 2002 found that people who own pets have lower heart rates and blood pressure levels. They are also able to manage stressful situations better.
Pets can also improve your mood and reduce stress. According to a 2019 study, interacting with your pet for just 10 minutes can significantly reduce the stress hormone cortisol.
13. Tense your toes and then relax them
To quickly relieve feelings of anxiety, try progressive muscle relaxation. It is when you gradually tense different muscle groups and then relax them. It is best to start with your toes and work your way up.
Some researchers believe that tensing and then relaxing specific muscle groups can help us become more aware of our bodies and the tight areas. It can leave us feeling more relaxed overall.
14. Completely relax your muscles
You can practice utter relaxation by sitting or lying comfortably and letting your muscles completely limp. It is called autogenic training.
While you relax, repeat short phrases in your mind like “My arms are heavy” or “I’m melting into the floor.” Channel intense feelings of heaviness, warmth, coolness, and calmness.
Take 10 or 15 minutes for yourself to relax. During this time, let any negative feelings disappear.
15. Watch something that makes you laugh
Laughter is the best medicine sometimes. A study from 2017 found that if you laugh regularly, you can lower your blood pressure over time and feel calmer.
Laughing can help reduce anxiety and make you feel better. It’s sometimes called laughter therapy.
16. Smell something calming
If you’re near flowers, take a whiff and feel less stressed. A study in 2015 found that people who touched and smelled plants felt less stressed. It’s a good idea to smell flowers you love because they will make you feel better.
If you don’t have any flowers nearby, try inhaling lavender oil. A study from 2017 suggested that lavender oil could effectively treat anxiety disorders and improve sleep for some people.
17. Focus on a mantra
Mantras can help you focus on more logical thoughts. It can help you step away from your anxiety and into a calmer headspace. A study in 2015 found that saying a single word silently to yourself can calm the same part of your brain that makes your mind wander.
You can also repeat a calming phrase to yourself, like “How important is this?” or “I can overcome anything,” to focus more on confronting that anxiety.
You don’t need to be an expert who meditates every day to feel the soothing effects of the practice. A study from 2018 found that even just one hour-long meditation session can significantly lower anxiety and stress levels.
You can download an app like Headspace or Calm to help you meditate in the comfort of your own home. Find a quiet space and sit comfortably with your eyes closed to feel calmer.
When It Might Be Something More
The tips listed above can help you calm down quickly at the moment. However, they are not long-term solutions for intense feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress.
Sometimes it is best to get help from a professional to learn how to prevent and manage these feelings. If left untreated, they can lead to more serious mental health issues.
Talk to a doctor if any of these things are true for you:
- You feel like your anxiety is happening a lot, and it is interfering with what you want to do.
- You feel like you have no control over your anxiety. It means that none of the above tips have helped you feel calmer.
- You’ve been using drugs or alcohol to cope with your anxiety.
- You’re feeling physical problems like pain in your stomach or a racing heart.
- You are feeling suicidal thoughts or behaviors. You can get help immediately by calling 911 or your local emergency number.