by K.M. Vento
Having inner calm is a luxury when you are insanely busy and super stressed. (Hello wedding event season!) Oftentimes this luxury can quickly move into necessity as stress levels rise — threatening to disrupt not only your job performance, but also your health if the stress is ongoing. So here are a few easy ways to help you calm down fast when you are overwhelmed. An added benefit, if you are a private person, is that you can do these easily in a restroom, vehicle, or off in a side-hallway.
Don’t Forget To Breath
Sounds simple, right? Well, when your mind and body feel like they’re racing in the indy 500 of stress, you’re not taking in the full, deep, breaths you need to bring your speed back down to a comfortable pace. A 2017 study by the US National Library of Medicine found that, “diaphragmatic breathing could improve sustained attention, affect, and cortisol levels.”
So start bringing down those cortisol levels down by following these simple deep breathing exercises from the University of Michigan:
- Place one hand on your belly, one on your chest, and take a deep breath in through your nose.
- Then breathe out through your mouth, allowing your hand on your belly to help push the air out.
- Do this a minimum of three times, and maximum of ten.
- Don’t rush yourself! And take note of how you feel afterward.
Ground Yourself Using Your Senses
A great way to do this, is through the 5 senses mindfulness exercise.
The idea here is to focus on each of your five senses one-by-one, concentrating on what you notice in each. The goal is to get yourself out of your head, and into the present moment. Do this for one minute for each sense, or even ten seconds if you’re extremely pressed for time. Feel yourself begin to unwind.
Connect With Nature (If Even Digitally)
Ever dozed off to the soothing sounds of rain pattering on the roof, or felt your stress melt away as you walked along the beach, water lapping along the shore? Then you know the therapeutic effects that nature can have on your maxed out brain, and tension filled body. Research by colleagues at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, in Brighton, UK has shown natural sights and sounds activate the parasympathetic nervous system, bringing the body back to a state of equilibrium, and calming your body — allowing you to reach a place of restful relaxation.
So even if you can’t get away right now to your favorite lake, or conjure up a rainstorm to happen outside tonight while you sleep, you can still receive these benefits by listening to your favorite nature sounds, or by scrolling through your favorite nature photos.
You can try these sounds by Calmsounds, or this aptly named dreamy collection of photos by National Geographic, to help you find a sense of tranquility.
No matter how you choose to relax, these techniques can guide you to your own inner serenity, and give you a moment of respite, within all the craziness of your world.